Skip to comments.Staying the course in Kosovo The Boston Globe By John F. Kerry / Saturday, April 17, 1999
Posted on 02/10/2004 5:50:45 AM PST by BigWaveBetty
The most enduring lesson of Vietnam - seared into me as a soldier - is that when the United States decides to employ force, it must have a clear national interest and objective, commit to doing whatever it takes to achieve that objective, and do so with debate and ultimately the consent of the American people.
No one can deny this nation's strong connection to the tragedy in Kosovo. We have committed 50 years and trillions of dollars protecting the security of Europe through the Marshall Plan, hundreds of thousands of American troops - a high-water mark of 500,000 - stationed in Europe since World War II, and our continued leadership in NATO. We must not allow Slobodan Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" to undermine our hard-fought peace or spill over into neighboring countries, precipitating the further destabilization of the region.
Broader national interests are at stake as well. There is cause enough for American intervention on the basis ofsecurity issues, our commitment to NATO, and overwhelming humanitarian needs. To shirk our responsibilities in a conflict we can win, in a region whose future is connected to American interests, would send a signal to dictators from Baghdad to Pyongyang that it doesn't take much to put the United States and the world on the run.
That is a dangerous possibility we cannot afford to risk. But more important, the United States and its NATO allies are working to preserve international law and a standard of civilized behavior shared by the vast majority of our neighbors and allies around the globe. [which will sink deeper into the cesspool of the ME radical if Saddam, Libya, Iran, Syria and an Afghanistan that was a terrorist mecca are ignored, contained or placated.]
Holocaust Rememberance Day this week offered a poignant reminder of the moral imperative of strong and decisive action taken before it is too late. The killing fields of Cambodia and the massacres in Rwanda areeven more recent evidence of the human price the world suffers when we avert our eyes from internationalatrocities.[Well, except when they're in Iraq, then it's ok according to JF'nK] We must not allow Kosovo to become another cause for collective guilt.
We must oppose the oppressive policies of the Milosevic regime: the displacement, pillaging, rape, and systematic murder of members of a clearly identifiable ethnic group, the Kosovo Albanians, carried out to preserve a despot's political power. NATO is standing as a firewall against "ethnic cleansing," barbarism, and the instability they create.
Our goals should remain limited and clear: to end Serbian assaults against the 750,000 ethnic Albanians displaced inside Kosovo and to create a secure environment that allows for the return of Kosovar refugees.These goals are just. We must do whatever it takes to achieve them. We must also make clear that we are nottrying to alter Kosovo's historical relationship to the Serbs; we have no quarrel with the Serb people; and we must not tie our future to the removal of Milosevic.
It is premature to debate whether we need ground troops or should deploy them. But the option never should have been taken off the table. American soldiers assume tremendous risks in serving this country, but those risks should not be intensified by the failure of political leaders to promise full commitment to victory. We have aresponsibility to make clear estimates of the costs, measure our strategic and logistical capacity to deploy ground troops, and prepare the rapid-lift capacity required to reach this potential next level of action in Kosovo.We need to be explicit about what this commitment entails, but we also must be unequivocal in our resolve to pursue the most effective strategy to achieve victory.
If success can only be achieved by use of American ground troops, we must be prepared to move forward following congressional authorization.
The conflict in Kosovo will not be won overnight or without loss. Still, we should ask ourselves whether we would prefer to be in our strategic position, or that of Milosevic. We are 19 nations strong, and international lawis on our side, fortified by the most powerful military in the world. Milosevic stands alone: His asset is his resolve. A lack of resolve is the only potential obstacle that could stand between NATO and success.
We must also forcefully pursue diplomacy to end the crisis. The truth is that the Rambouillet agreement was flawed. Insistence on a NATO ground presence combined with the uncertain future of the independence issuemay have been an impossible equation for any Serb leader. A renewed diplomatic effort, while the bombing continues, may succeed in creating a more acceptable international peacekeeping structure.
Kosovo is not another Vietnam - unless we decide to make it so, for lack of resolve or a willingness to submitto the terror of Milosevic and leave our humanitarian mission unfinished. There is no doubt that we have the military capacity to permit the Kosovar refugees to return to their homes and rebuild their lives in a safe environment. It is long past due that we explore every option to complete that mission.
Voted NO on allowing all necessary forces and other means in Kosovo. (May 1999)
Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo. (Mar 1999)
Voted NO on ending the Bosnian arms embargo. (Jul 1995)
After all, the claims of Serb "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" have been shown to be COMPLETELY FAKE.
Their opinion of our opinion on the subject? We're dismissed as warmongers.
More "unilateral" than the Iraq war, looks like.
The difference between then and now is Iraq is justified, Kosovo probably would have benefited from diplomacy.
We didn't have a cease fire with Kosovo that required the specific actions Iraq was bound to do at the end of the Gulf War. The two wars are far from the same threat to us and the Iraqi's had the added bonus of daily terror from Saddam.
Kerry says: to undermine our hard-fought peace or spill over into neighboring countries, precipitating the further destabilization of the region.
Kerry also says way back then: would send a signal to dictators from Baghdad to Pyongyang that it doesn't take much to put the United States and the world on the run.
You get the picture, Kerry wants it both ways and I was just pointing out another reason the man shouldn't even use the restroom at the White House.
I won't stoop to John F'n Kerry's level and declare the brave souls from those countries who helped, an illegitimate coalition.
It really doesn't matter that the right grumbled about Kosovo, in the end the clinton got his war and no I'm not going to argue whether that war was right or wrong.
You want examples of daily terror from Saddam? Happy to oblige.
BAGHDAD Pictures of dead Iraqis, with their necks slashed, their eyes gouged out and their genitals blackened, fill a bookshelf. Jail cells, with dried blood on the floor and rusted shackles bolted to the walls, line the corridors. And the screams of what could be imprisoned men in an underground detention center echo through air shafts and sewer pipes.
A civilian looks through secret police documents found in a building where Saddam's Baath Party had jail cells and interrogation chambers.
"This is the place where Saddam made people disappear," said an Iraqi soldier named Iyad Hussein, 37, describing Iraq's Military Intelligence Directorate in the northwestern suburb of Kadimiya. "It is a chamber of death."
The secrets of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror are beginning to emerge. Iraqi civilians who had longed feared speaking out about the alleged atrocities for fear of government retribution are revealing in detail what the Iraqi dictator and his regime inflicted on some of the country's 26 million people.
They paint a picture of arrests, killings and torture that have led human rights groups to condemn the Iraqi leader in the strongest terms. The groups have charged that tens of thousands of Iraqis, from Kurds in the north to Shiites in the south, were tortured and killed after Saddam seized power in 1979.
Most were arrested on charges ranging from criticizing the Iraqi leader to cooperating with the United States. Some Iraqis are already coming forward with tales of atrocities. Many allegedly were carried out here at the Military Intelligence Directorate.
"I was beaten, refrigerated naked and put underground for one year because I was a Shiite and Saddam is a Sunni," said Ali Kaddam Kardom, 37. He said he was arrested in the central city of Karbala on March 10, 2000. He returned to the facility in Baghdad this weekend, he said, to help rescue any Iraqis who still might be imprisoned there.
The Bush administration has said it would seek out evidence of the Saddam regime's covert programs from its efforts to enrich top officials as its citizens starved, to the development of banned weapons. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said rewards would be offered to individuals who provide information on biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs.
Rumsfeld also said that though Saddam appeared to be gone, "we still must capture, account for or otherwise deal" with him and senior Iraqi leaders.
Initially, U.S. forces will have to rely on testimony from survivors of Saddam's brutality because some of the key documentary evidence has disappeared, U.S. officials said. When U.S. forces entered the headquarters of the once-feared Iraqi Intelligence Service, across town from the Military Intelligence Directorate, they found the place had been cleaned out even before the Baghdad looters arrived, a U.S. intelligence official said Sunday. Looters have destroyed evidence at other government agencies.
Of interest to U.S. forces
These are the key areas under investigation by U.S. troops:
Banned weapons. Newspapers reported over the weekend that there were indications Iraqi officials were ordered to take files and computers home to prevent United Nations inspectors from finding incriminating evidence of banned weapons programs. A British newspaper, The Observer, said a reporter found handwritten notes at the offices of the intelligence service, indicating agents were briefed Nov. 18 about how to deal with U.N. teams. "It is not allowed for any officer to expand his answer beyond the limit of any question or to offer further details," the newspaper quoted the Arabic document as saying.
U.S. forces have not found conclusive proof that Iraq possessed chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, but thousands of sites remain to be searched, Army Gen. Tommy Franks told CNN in an interview at the U.S. Central Command's war headquarters in Qatar on Sunday. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in an interview with BBC television Sunday that the United States would find banned weapons in Iraq. "There's strong evidence and no question about the fact there are weapons of mass destruction," Powell said.
Terrorist tactics. U.S. Marines found 310 explosive-packed vests for suicide bombers at an unspecified location in Baghdad, U.S. military officials said Sunday. The cache, discovered Friday, included 160 vests that combined explosives with ball bearings, making them more lethal, Central Command said. CNN reported that the vests were found in a school. USA TODAY reported last week that a school had been used as a listening post by Iraqi intelligence agents.
Financial misdeeds. In his taped message last week to the Iraqi people, British Prime Minister Tony Blair accused Saddam of plundering Iraq's wealth. "While many of you live in poverty, they have lived lives of luxury," Blair said. "He became one of the richest men in the world his money stolen from you, the Iraqi people."
Sunday, looters storming the Al-Salam Presidential Palace on the Tigris River marveled bitterly at Saddam's life of luxury as they passed shards of crystal from chandeliers and shattered mirrors.
"Look how he lived when we couldn't even get bread," one man said.
Torture and executions. Reports of hidden dungeons where prisoners were subjected to torture and held without trial were surfacing inside and outside the capital over the weekend. In the southern city of Basra, Iraq's second-most-populous city with more than 1 million people, British army engineers brought in heavy digging equipment to look into locals' claims that prisoners were trapped in cells underneath the main police station.
U.S. forces also are finding documents that could lead intelligence officials to weapons sites or to new information on the already well-documented human rights abuses of Saddam's regime. The CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. military are sending document-exploitation teams to begin the laborious process of sifting through records, translating and interpreting them.
U.S. intelligence also is benefiting from information provided by Iraqis. "An awful lot of Iraqis are being cooperative," Rumsfeld said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press.
As U.S. forces entered the Iraqi capital here, hundreds of military intelligence officers fled the Directorate's headquarters. Apparently, they feared being captured or killed by the U.S. forces or beaten by Iraqis for decades of tortures and killings committed here.
Over the weekend, relatives of those arrested began arriving at the now-abandoned intelligence headquarters to inquire about loved ones. They brought pictures, birth certificates and dental records. It was the first time most had even approached the main gate, much less entered the site. Signs outside the headquarters read "Forbidden to enter under penalty of death."
Kardom, one of the former prisoners who came back, was kept in the facility's underground prison until March 10, records here show. He was charged with "religious incitement" against the government.
He denied any wrongdoing.
"Under Saddam, there were no rights of appeal," Kardom said. "I begged them to stop as they beat me. It only inspired them to beat me harder."
An Iraqi soldier, who according to the facility's records witnessed the beatings, said interrogators regularly used pliers to remove men's teeth, electric prods to shock men's genitals and drills to cut holes in their ankles.
In one instance, the soldier recalled, he witnessed a Kuwaiti soldier, who had been captured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, being forced to sit on a broken Pepsi bottle. The man was removed from the bottle only after it filled up with his blood, the soldier said. He said the man later died.
"I have seen interrogators break the heads of men with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds and rape wives in front of their husbands," said former Iraqi soldier Ali Iyad Kareen, 41.
He then revealed dozens of Polaroid pictures of beaten and dead Iraqis from the directorate's files.
The beatings continued until the last days of the old government. Iraqi Maj. Shakir Hamid, 33, and his two brothers said they were arrested March 5 by military intelligence police and charged with being informants for the CIA. They were released by sympathetic Iraqi soldiers last week, Hamid said.
He and his two brothers, Majeed and Shakeer, have cigarette burns on their wrists, the bottoms of their feet and their inner thighs. He pointed out dried blood stains on the cement floor of several jail cells. "The interrogators kept telling me, 'Admit it, you work for the Americans, don't you?' " Hamid said. "Under Saddam, you were found guilty whether or not there was any evidence against you."
Most of the five-story building has been demolished by U.S.-led airstrikes. Steel beams and parts of concrete walls cover the floors. Furniture, files and pictures have been burned beyond recognition.
Several other buildings on the grounds were left relatively intact. Inside one building, there were files with the names and pictures of Iraq's military intelligence officers. There also were pictures of prisoners, many of whom had been tortured and killed.
Former prisoners at the facility here said they were kept in an underground prison adjacent to a pumphouse and near the jail. It was built by the Yugoslav government. The men said the prison contained nearly 400 jail cells. Iraqi soldiers who worked at the site confirm their description.
U.S. Special Forces, however, investigated the site last week and said they found no evidence of a hidden prison there. Relatives of several missing Iraqis said the forces searched the basement of the main headquarters, not the site they had recommended.
Saturday, former prisoners and Iraqi soldiers said they heard screams of "help" from men who were still there. Several soldiers who tried to enter the underground prison through a manhole said they found the area flooded and doors locked. Kanan Alwan, 41, who worked in the facility's administrative office, said the intelligence officers of the facility programmed the prison's computers, which control the water flow, so that the water level would exceed the height of the prison doors.
"They are drowning in there, and there's nothing we can do for them," Alwan said. "The real criminals fled. But the innocents who probably did nothing wrong have been condemned to death."
It was impossible to confirm whether prisoners had been left to die underground. But family members of the suspected prisoners, Iraqi soldiers and local residents worked furiously Saturday in an effort to free the men. They tried to shut off the water, break down the doors with hammers and dig holes with shovels and sticks.
By 10 a.m. Sunday, the screams had stopped. Many of the family members broke down and cried. Others fainted in despair. Some just walked away in anger.
"Saddam may be gone, but his final act was to murder more of his own people," Alwan said. "Now I pray the murders will stop."
Contributing: John Diamond in Washington, wire reports Link
John Kerry was a soldier in Vietnam?
Well, I'll be danged.
Gee, I thought that the lesson to be learned from Vietnam was that, on a daily basis, American soldiers:
personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.
And that for that, we neede to pay reparations to the communists, agonize about our collective guilt, smoke a lot of dope, and so on.
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