May 17, 2000

MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS

FROM: GARY SCHMITT

SUBJECT: Kosovo

The Senate may vote today on a provision in the FY2001 Military Construction Appropriations bill, which would mandate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Kosovo after July 1, 2001, unless Congress passes a joint resolution specifically authorizing their continued deployment. The principal sponsors of the measure are Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.VA) and John Warner (R-VA).

As the debate begins, I would like to draw your attention to the following editorial from Monday’s Washington Times (“Out of Kosovo?”). As the editorial observes, whatever the Senate’s complaints about the Clinton White House’s handling of the Balkans policy are, the solution is not to cut and run from Kosovo. “The real challenge for the Senate is to rise above these sorry facts and consider the principle.” Coming on the heels of the administration’s March decision to order NATO's commander-in-chief, then U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, not to use U.S. troops assigned to one sector to assist other NATO forces under the gun in adjacent areas, passage of the Bryd-Warner provision will only reaffirm to our allies and our enemies in Europe that U.S. leadership is increasingly a thing of the past and disengagement the growing norm.

Taking a pot shot at the Clinton White House may be great sport but it will be the next administration which will have to repair the damage done to U.S. credibility, the NATO alliance and security in Southeast Europe by this provision.