More on the Wingnutosphere’s Whining

I just did a Lexis-Nexis search for articles printed in 1999 that contained comparisons of NATO’s bombing campaign in the Balkans to the war in Vietnam. Here is a sample of what I found:


In World War II, the German blitz forced England to surrender. The 1972 Christmas bombing of Hanoi toppled the communist regime and secured the independence of South Vietnam.

You missed that, didn’t you?

In reality, strategic bombing alone has never decided anything. Yet Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright still think they can bomb Slobodan Milosevic back to the conference table, as Lyndon Johnson used to say.

-Don Feder, Boston Herald Op-Ed, 4/14/99


This president is very deep into a mess. When and how will he get out of it? Lord only knows.

Standing outside the hotel where President Clinton addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors — intending to explain and lay philosophical groundwork for deeper involvement in Kosovo — some 500 protesters marched and shouted “No war, no bombs, no new Vietnam.”

Chill bumps pop up. This could very well be Clinton’s repeat of LBJ’s legacy, another war that is vaguely defined, escalating and indefinite. Already there are reports that 30,000 reservists will be called up, mostly pilots and support personnel needed to keep the planes in the air. But the escalation is already under way. The Apache helicopters, which qualify in my book as ground troops, should never have been committed without a congressional declaration of war.

-Jim Wooten, Atlanta Journal and Constitution op-ed, 4/18/99


Ohio Republicans were more skeptical of Clinton’s policies. Those who opposed bombing in the first place were divided on the best future course. Sen. George Voinovich said on the Senate floor that the “least objectionable plan” would be to keep bombing in hopes of reaching a settlement, while avoiding use of ground troops.

“I see a situation developing in the Balkans that could be just as brutal as that which developed in Vietnam,” Voinovich warned.

-Cleveland Plain Dealer, 4/14/99



-A Headline from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, 5/15/99


Within the new administration, the debate about what to do in Bosnia quickly polarized between two factions with very different historical memories. To use Albright’s phraseology, there was the “Vietnam group” and “the Munich group.” The Vietnam group was represented by Gen. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a Bush administration holdover. Determined to prevent U.S. troops from being sucked into another unwinnable war, Powell came up with a doctrine that sharply limited the president’s ability to use force in support of diplomacy. His model for a successful military operation was the 1991 Persian Gulf War: Don’t go in unless you have a specific set of military goals (the liberation of Kuwait, for example), and be prepared to deploy overwhelming military force to achieve them.

Washington Post, 5/16/99


President Clinton faces a legal deadline today for ending U.S. military operations against Yugoslavia and withdrawing U.S. troops. But don’t hold your breath waiting for him to comply — or for Congress to force him.

A post-Vietnam law intended to prevent presidents from stumbling into war without public support will be ignored once again.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After the nine-year Vietnam adventure in military gradualism produced 211,000 casualties, including 58,000 dead, and left the nation bitterly divided, Congress set out to assure it wouldn’t happen again. As the last U.S. troops left Vietnam, it set up a mechanism to force future presidents and Congresses to go to war together — presumably with a full-fledged national debate to build public approval — or not at all.

-USA Today, 5/25/99


Some say that NATO must not lose face, that maybe we should not be involved in a civil war in a sovereign nation but now that we are, we must win. One of the wise heads expressing that view on PBS’ “NewsHour” helped keep us in Vietnam an extra four years and then won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Lewis Dolinsky, San Francisco Chronicle. By all indications, this was a news feature.


What if Slobodan Milosevic doesn’t fold quickly? The Clinton administration is promising to make the air campaign long and devastating.

Will it work? History is not encouraging. And a host of awful scenarios come into play.

Hitler’s air campaign against Britain, which began with bombing and moved to missiles, only increased British resolve. When the tide shifted and the Allies plastered Germany, it still took ground troops to win the war. Massive bombing failed to bring North Vietnam to heel.

-USA Today, 3/24/99


President Clinton got the lessons-of-history game off to a bad start by telling the nation at first that both World War I and World War II began in the Balkans. That was simply untrue. World War II started over Czechoslovakia, which can only be considered Balkan in a Clintonian sense. While he was hyping some historical analogies, he and his policymakers ignored some others, which they are paying for now. […]

Clinton reads a lot of history, but he apparently skipped some important chapters. Discounting the need for ground troops fit the polls, but it was bad negotiating strategy and worse historical odds-making. It’s foolhardy to tip your hand to an adversary. The big lesson so far from this war is that the best all-purpose government answer is: “We don’t speculate on military contingencies.” Moreover, Clinton didn’t take full account of the military’s real 60-year record of strategic bombing, which is spotty. After World War II, the Pentagon commissioned the Strategic Bombing Survey, which found that Allied bombing contributed far less to victory over the Nazis than had been assumed. Two decades later, “carpet bombing” of North Vietnam did little to break Hanoi’s will. And we know how little effect bombing has had on Saddam Hussein. Air power is essential in war, but mostly in support of ground troops.

-Jonathan Alter, Newsweek, 4/12/99


Oh, oh, oh it’s a lovely war, begins the old verse. Ever since the Kosovo intervention started, commentators have noted that this is a liberal war. Its methods, for instance, are those pioneered by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam-“graduated escalation” and all that.

John O’Sullivan, National Review, 6/14/99


Robert McNamara helped prosecute the war in Vietnam, a conflict in which many of the issues raised anew in the Balkans–the effectiveness of air power, the cost to civilians, an unclear endgame–tragically played out over more than a decade. […]

NEWSWEEK: What of Kosovo reminds you of Vietnam?

MCNAMARA: We don’t have–and we’re not going to have–500,000 American soldiers at risk in Kosovo, which we did in Vietnam. We’re not going to have, in any scenario that I can visualize, 58,000 dead Americans in Kosovo as we did in Vietnam. And we’re not going to have 3.5 million enemy dead in Kosovo as were killed in Vietnam. So the order of magnitude is different. The similarities are there in the sense that we’re trying to use foreign military force in a very, very ambiguous environment to achieve political and military ends.

-Newsweek, 4/26/99


The distant war in Kosovo has become the first, perhaps defining issue. Why? The reasons range from planetary to partisan. Bill Clinton’s economic record is hard to attack, but world security seems to have deteriorated on his watch. Baby boomers remember Vietnam and dread repeating it. The foreshortened primary schedule in 2000 makes raising your profile–and your money–imperative right now. And the heir apparent–Al Gore–looked beatable even before Kosovo. Now the war threatens to immobilize him, and his foes want to tie him down by focusing on it.

-Howard Fineman, Newsweek, 4/26/99


Although the Kosovo war finally seemed over yesterday, most Americans were not celebrating with a party in Times Square. They remained wary, ambivalent, unsure and disconnected — as they have been from the start.

This was not a victory, many said. This was — what? There seemed, at this early stage of peace, no real sense of who won and what will happen next. Polls taken last weekend, as peace talks opened and then faltered, found that Americans were worried the engagement might have been a mistake; that the Yugoslav leadership could not be trusted; that Americans should not die as peacekeepers. In interviews around the nation yesterday, there was still no sense that a great battle has ended, but instead that a strategic-diplomatic sideshow was, maybe, over.

Many of those interviewed expressed worry about what the refugees from Kosovo will see when they return home and what they will do. Others feared the United States could become mired in the Balkans for years — “another Vietnam,” said one. There was ambivalence about the bombing and its toll on civilians. And there was a lot of wariness about whether peace will hold and whether Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will continue to threaten stability in the Balkans.

-Washington Post, 6/11/99


Ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday slammed President Clinton’s “pathetic” conduct of the crisis in the Balkans that, he said, is creating a “European Vietnam.”

-New York Daily News, 5/13/99


Now as Congress grapples with Kosovo, and Vietnam-era words and phrases like “quagmire” and “fighting with one hand tied behind the back” resonate once again, these Vietnam combat veterans in the Senate and two more — Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Charles S. Robb of Virginia — speak with the special authority of experience. But the vexing questions of this war have pulled them in different directions.

-New York Times, 4/23/99

You get the idea.

The point here is that Clinton didn’t cry and bitch because a bunch of people in the press and in the opposition party were being mean to him. Instead, he got results, as Milosevic surrendered four months after the start of the boming campaign. As Crazy Dolphin Lady would say, “he had a pair.” It’s too bad you can’t say the same thing about our current sissy-in-chief.

(Incidentally, I think Peggy should write a book called “Profiles in Men Who Have Pairs.” I’d buy it, at least.)


Comments: 10


To be fair, at the time I didn’t think the air campaign would achieve its objectives either and argued so vociferously. But a) that was because the objective wasn’t capturing land but preventing genocide on the ground, and b) I wanted ground troops to go in almost straight away, not total withdrawal.


To be fair, at the time I didn’t think the air campaign would achieve its objectives either and argued so vociferously.

Fair enough. But then again, no one called you “objectively pro-Milosevic” or accused you of providing aid and comfort to the Serbian military, did they?


Sorry, Brad, you’ve got it all wrong. First of all, none those fine patriotic individuals you mention would ever have questioned the motives and tactics of a sitting President in a time of war. Second, the MSM by definition worshipped the evil Philandering President Clinton, and so would never have written anything critical of him. Third, if by some bizarre accident anyone had been critical of Clinton’s actions, it would have emboldened Milosevic and the Serbs, and they would have won the war and conquered the rest of feeble pacifist Europe to boot.

So, what do you have to say to that, Mr. Smarty Brad Guy? You are obviously a flitty, chittering little Moonbat, as we don’t see Milosevic bestriding Europe like a mighty colossus, now do we? Ipso facto, give a dog a bone, I have demolished your feeble statements above, you Lunar Flying Rodent. Heh, indeed!


Woody- thank you for adequately parodying the quality of a typical warblogger argument.


I think Peggy should write a book called “Profiles in Men Who Have Pairs.”

I think you mean “Profiles in Men Who Have Au Pairs.”


hey now Brad, that parody was a lot more than “adequate”! of course he did fail to gratuitously use “strawman”.


This post reminds me of the time s.z. made fun of a wingnut email (Click on my homepage).


Say, now that ol’ Slobodan Milosevic has done us the great good favor of dropping dead, there’s a nice, executive jail cell available at the Hague. Why, minutes after they’re finished hosing it out, it’ll be ready for a new, executive prisoner. Who could this occupant be? Hmmm… there must be someone appropriate we could dig up and send over for trial….
Well, I’m sure I’ll think up a good candidate eventually!


“The Apache helicopters, which qualify in my book as ground troops…”

What are you willing to bet that his book won’t be reprinted by Regnery any time soon?


“The peaceful anti-war protesters, who qualify in my book as homicidal bomb-throwing anarchists…”

Hey, this literary device works quite well!


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