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I don't know how you can "oust" a battalion of 200 men without threatening to fire on them.

Foreign Affairs - Compromised Command

In the immediate aftermath of the war, Clark responded to the Russians' seizure of the Pristina airfield by seeking to oust them. After his subordinate on the ground, British General Michael Jackson, told him, "I'm not starting World War III for you," London ordered Jackson not to comply with Clark's order to block the airfield's runways. The British action averted any potential crisis, something about which Clark was apparently not concerned. His attitude toward containing the Russian role was consistent with the general confidence about NATO's hegemony in Europe and America's hegemony in NATO that was implicit in the whole enterprise.

But even though Clark's prose reveals a sharp sensibility about most things, he has a tin ear for Russian interests. He reports how Russian General Viktor Barynkin told him during the Dayton negotiations, "We know what you Americans are up to. ... You are coming into Bosnia because it's in our part of Europe and you want to be there. And you say you will be gone in a year, but you won't be; you will stay." Clark reflected that the Russians "saw the peace plan in Cold War terms ... to establish spheres of influence," as if the Russians were hidebound reactionaries. Yet nothing that has happened in the six years since proves Barynkin wrong. What are the Balkans now if not an expanded sphere of influence for NATO -- one nudging Russia's front door?

The New Yorker's / Slate

Being "sure" of oneself is not quite the same as a compulsive snap judger who does things by whim, as when he threatened to open fire on Russian positions during one close call in the NATO campaign over Kosovo. Fred Kaplan

by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 03:07:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The second quote is by some wingnut commenter on Slate who later goes on to cite frontpagemag, not by Fred Kaplan.

On the first, I'll note that there were two events: an order by Clark to occupy the airport in advance of the Russians, and a later order by Clark to block the runways with tanks. Both were refused by Jackson. Russian air lifts were eventually held back by the US convincing the surrounding states to close their airspace. It's unclear to me where exactly the 'World War 3' quote comes in as the BBC gives a different picture.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 04:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clarke first ordered troops to race to get to the airport first - that would have shut the russians out.

Then Clarke ordered troops to block the runways to prevent landings - now since presumably the 200 Russian troop had taken the airport with the intention to use it, you couldn't block the runways without opposition from the Russian troops already there.

Then Clarke managed to close the airspace of neighbouring countries.

As for vladimir's

I don't know how you can "oust" a battalion of 200 men without threatening to fire on them.
you can lay siege to the airport and wait for the battallion to run out of supplies.

Now, this is all very strange considering that NATO and Russia were supposed to be on the same side here.
BBC News | EUROPE | Confrontation over Pristina airport

General Jackson tells the BBC: ''We were [looking at] a possibility....of confrontation with the Russian contingent which seemed to me probably not the right way to start off a relationship with Russians who were going to become part of my command.''

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 04:54:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To avoid getting bogged down in technicalities, the big picture is that the US wanted to provoke armed conflict with the Russians in Europe.
by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 05:05:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about that, but it certainly sounds like Clarke thought nothing of getting NATO troop into an aggressive standoff with Russian troops. He probably expected the Russians to back off but it was the Europeans under his command that had no stomach for that kind of thing.

As has been pointed out around here, the Russian perception of relationships with The West™ changed dramatically after the Kosovo campaign. During the 1990's they seem to actually have believed the US and its allies were genuinely interested in partnership. In addition, Bush started off being very friendly to Putin but after a couple of years Putin realised Bush wasn't to be trusted.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 05:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you are right, although I'm very sceptical of systematically pointing to individual "blunders" (Zimmerman, Christopher for Bosnia, Albright for Kosovo, Clark for the Airport incident, Ambassador Glaspie for in Iraq-Kuwait, etc.) instead of calling a dog a dog.
by vladimir on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 05:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In addition, Bush started off being very friendly to Putin but after a couple of years Putin realised Bush wasn't to be trusted.

yup, it's hard when you're looking into someone's soul to stop them looking right back at yours...

 putin has been restrained in his responses considering how bushco's behaviour has been one long windup.

he's right not to take bush at face value, apart from being much smarter, he is better placed to take advantage of current and coming events than bush, who has already won his place in notoriety as the most recalcitrant ignoramus ever to steal a country's vote.

...and then reduce everything he touches to gold, for his friends...

....to dust for everyone else

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 08:36:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US wanted to do that, you'd think they'd have sent some of their own ground forces into Kosovo, so that they'd be sure Clark's orders would be followed. They didn't because of domestic issues, problems with Congress turf battles and personal conflicts in the Pentagon and the Clinton administration.

Reality is just never that simple.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 20th, 2007 at 06:05:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you suggesting that the US military is run by a group of gung-ho generals over whom there is little or no civilian governance?
by vladimir on Fri Dec 21st, 2007 at 02:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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