Austin Bay

Effective diplomacy to deter these war creators required coordinated action by the Western powers to demonstrate that "Europe and the UN stand for evolutionary rather then revolutionary change in the political order." However, " ... the European nations had done little more than kvetch and cajole the Serbs with rhetoric and threats of economic sanctions." Not much different from 2014, eh?

The 1991 essay's description of Serbia's creeping war also has 2014 echoes: "They attack, take a niche of Croatia, halt and wait for the international community's diplomatic rhetoric to subside. Then they attack again."

Putin has a strategic savvy Milosevic lacked. He also possesses nuclear weapons -- this is a major advantage. In 1994 Ukraine signed the Budapest Accord and gave up its nukes in exchange for territorial security assurances by Russia, the U.S. and Great Britain. In 2014, Putin's nuclear Russia ignored the Budapest Accord and seized no-nuke Ukraine's Crimea. Hey, peaceniks -- no nukes!

Though well-supplied with ammunition, Serbia had limited fuel reserves and no money. The Serb-Croat war stalemated; economic weakness contributed to the stalemate.

Shrewd Putin controls vast energy reserves on which his Ukrainian enemy and European critics depend. Last week, Russia jacked by the price it charges Ukraine for natural gas; one source reported the jack was 80 percent. Forget creeping? That's a gouging war of economic aggression.

The aftermath of the NATO's 1999 Kosovo War eventually drove Milosevic from power. He died, confronting war crimes charges. Kosovo, however, remains a cause celebre for many Serbian and Russian Slavs, including Putin.

Former KGB agent Putin, like Milosevic, has made the transition from red to brown, but much more successfully. In a speech delivered in Red Square on March 18, after the annexation of Crimea, Putin told an adoring crowd: "We have done a lot together, but we will do much more. So many tasks, but I'm sure we will overcome everything. Glory to Russia."

Greater Russia, led by its shrewd czar-commissar, is on the march.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
Be the first to read Austin Bay's column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.

©Creators Syndicate