Pat Buchanan at His Best:
On Kosovo

Jude Wanniski
October 6, 1998


Memo To:Fred Barnes, executive editor, The Weekly Standard
From: Jude Wanniski
Re:  Kosovo

Your argument on FoxNewsSunday with Tony Snow that we should be bombing the bad guys in Kosovo in response to their “genocide” is not as solid as I’ve seen from you in the past. First of all, I step back whenever I hear a political commentator talk about “genocide,” which is a term that is an exclusive with Hitler and Nazi Germany. You should be concerned about seeming too glib in backing your arguments for military action by the U.S. with “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” citations. The ethnic Albanians who comprise the Kosovo Liberation Army have in the very recent past been linked with atrocities against Serbs, but I heard no complaints from you about genocide.  I get very suspicious when I see a picture in the NYTimes of 18 dead bodies piled in a heap and editorialists writing about atrocities and genocide. I have not the slightest doubt that Serbs have been hacking away at ethnic Albanians, but I also have not the slightest doubt that the KLA has been doing the same with the Serbs who have had juridical sovereignty over Kosovo for more than a hundred years.

We went through this not too long ago, Fred, with huffing and puffing about “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, only to learn much later that the Bosnians had been committing world class atrocities against the Serbs and probably initiated the process. My suggestion to you is that you read Pat Buchanan’s Saturday column as I saw it in the NYPost. You and I have been shoulder-to-shoulder in the past in arguing against Pat’s economic protectionism, but I don’t think he is always wrong. And on Kosovo, I think he has a much more persuasive case than you have. It is, after all, clearly a civil war. It could be argued that Croatia had some claim to independence from Belgrade. It was a real stretch to say that Bosnia has a claim to independence. The idea that Kosovo deserves independence has no grounding in history. Pat Buchanan is absolutely right in comparing the conflict to the war between the states in the 1860s, which would put you on the side of those British politicians who wanted to send cruise missiles into Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on the grounds that freedom fighters here were committing genocide against the redcoats.

Please understand, Fred, that I’m not saying you are necessarily wrong about Kosovo, only that your analytical presentations have been paper thin. From past experience, I know you can do better. One of the things you might try is reading the Financial Times, instead of relying exclusively on the NYTimes and Washington Post. The FT is not happy with Milosovic, but at least their reports include the position of the Serbian government that cut in the other direction. Pat Buchanan Is correct in noting we should not be backing the rebels with military might, but should seek a diplomatic solution. NATO air strikes will do nothing but persuade the KLA that it need do nothing along those line. It was clearly a mistake for Milosevic to reduce Kosovo's autonomy within the federation. We should be pushing along those lines.