War in the Balkans: American Opinion - US backing for ground troops rises

IN FOLLOWING the new White House policy of almost daily appearances by the President to defend the Nato operation in Kosovo, Bill Clinton used the start of an address on China yesterday to repeat what has become the official mantra on Kosovo: no concessions; not now and not later.

Amid speculation about a US request to Russia to mediate and the imminent release of the captured US servicemen, Mr Clinton said: "We are determined to stay united and to persist until we prevail."

The truce proposed by the Yugoslav President was unacceptable: "It is not enough for Mr Milosevic to say his forces will cease fire in a Kosovo denied its freedom and devoid of its people ... He must withdraw his forces, let the refugees return, permit the deployment of an international security force."

As members of his immediate team are criticised for their handling of the crisis - not a day goes by without some disclosure about errors by the departments of state or defence, or the military - Mr Clinton ploughs on and his efforts seem to be paying off. His ratings for handling the operation have improved and opinion has hardened substantially: against Mr Milosevic, for the military action and for deployment of ground troops.

A Wall Street Journal poll showed 64 per cent approving "US and Nato air strikes". Asked if they would "favour or oppose sending US and Nato soldiers into Serbia if the Serbs continue to drive people out of Kosovo", 53 per cent said they would approve. When the question was put more starkly - would they approve sending US and Nato soldiers into Serbia if that was "the only way to stop the fighting" - the proportion rises to 73 per cent in favour. This is an almost 30 per cent increase in Americans who would support deployment of US ground troops since air strikes began. It brings the US much more into line with European - at least North European - opinion.

A similar shift has been seen among opinion-formers - policy advisers, academics, military experts and politicians. Determination to "finish the job", if necessary with ground troops, has escalated from hesitant acceptance that this might be the only option into a crescendo of support. The upshot is that Mr Clinton, who yesterday continued to insist through cabinet members that there were no plans to use grounds troops, could find himself contemplating a policy U-turn by popular - and congressional - acclaim.

If this happens, he will have to thank the disarray on the right. Aside from a small group of conservatives, led by Pat Buchanan, who have said from the outset that no US interests are at stake in Kosovo, the majority have twisted and turned through a series of misjudgements to the point where they are lined up, more or less, behind the toughest possible line on Slobodan Milosevic.

Accustomed to European enthusiasm for military action lagging behind that of the US, their first miscall was to misread European opinion and the appeal for Europe of a "values-led" war. "With leftist governments recently elected in several European countries," one said this week, "I thought they would be just learning to march, but I'd no idea we would be marching so soon."

And from another conservative: "It's surprising how solidly the Europeans have been in favour of this operation."

With the majority of Europeans and the White House in sync, the non-isolationist right splintered between those who harboured suspicions of any military action supported by Bill Clinton, the Vietnam War protester, and those who thought this Vietnam protester too soft on Mr Milosevic.

Then came the pictures of the refugees, and Senator Don Nickles, a senior Republican who had reportedly said he would not support military action until "the Serbs started massacring people", was embarrassed into saying he was quoted out of context. It is said he would now vote for ground troops and take the vast majority of Republicans into the lobby behind him.

Even a recent call by William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency and respected military strategist, to "Take Belgrade" does not faze them. "The only problem is that to save Kosovo we are positioned to the south, whereas you would have to take Belgrade from the north," was the one misgiving voiced by a group of right-wing defence experts this week.

Much may have gone wrong in the Nato operation for Kosovo but for Mr Clinton almost everything has gone right.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London