“Please leave your threat after you hear the beep.” This was the message on Slobodan Milosevic’s answering machine as rendered by a French cartoonist back when Bosnia was being “ethnically cleansed.” The sorry point of this witticism finally became moot with NATO’s attack on Serbia this past spring—just as Belgrade readied to do to Kosovar Muslims what it had done elsewhere.
“Ethnic cleansing” trumps a lot of other considerations, at least for some of us on the left. Yet it is vexing (for me, anyway) to find part of the left more agitated about any use of American force than about a profoundly menaced population—and speaking as if there is nothing Milosevic could do that is not the fault of Washington. This is the internationalism of fools. Yes, there is always the caveat: “We don’t like Milosevic either, but there are so many like him around.” But not all bad guys and bad acts are the same; assimilate them all into the wickedness of the world and you merely relieve yourself of tough moral choices....
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