Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
8Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Blunder in the Balkans: The Clinton Administration's Bungled War against Serbia, Cato Policy Analysis No. 345

Blunder in the Balkans: The Clinton Administration's Bungled War against Serbia, Cato Policy Analysis No. 345

Ratings: (0)|Views: 371|Likes:
Published by Cato Institute
Executive Summary

The Clinton administration has made one miscalculation after another in dealing with the Kosovo crisis. U.S. officials and their NATO colleagues never understood the historical and emotional importance of Kosovo to the Serbian people, believing instead that Belgrade's harsh repression of the ethnic Albanian secessionist movement in Kosovo merely reflected the will of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. The administration's foreign policy team mistakenly concluded that, under a threat of air strikes, the Yugoslav government would sign a dictated peace accord (the Rambouillet agreement) to be implemented by a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Even if Milosevic initially refused to sign the Rambouillet agreement, administration leaders believed that Belgrade would relent after a brief "demonstration" bombing campaign. Those calculations proved to be disastrously wrong.



President Clinton and his advisers justified their decision to use force with two arguments: that NATO bombing was needed to prevent a Serbian military offensive in Kosovo with attendant "ethnic cleansing," and that vigorous action was essential to prevent the Kosovo conflict from spilling over into neighboring states, thereby destabilizing the southern Balkans. Administration leaders also hoped that NATO pressure would undermine Milosevic's political power and embolden the democratic opposition in Serbia. The bombing campaign has been wholly counterproductive with regard to all three objectives.



Administration officials have committed miscalculations eerily reminiscent of faulty U.S. assumptions during the Vietnam War. Those mistakes include overestimating the effectiveness of air power; underestimating the willingness of the target government and population to fight for their homeland; and demonizing the opposing political leader, thus making a negotiated settlement more difficult.



Even if Belgrade finally capitulates, the adverse effects of the administration's actions already constitute a policy fiasco. Instability in the Balkans is far worse than before the bombing. Relations with Russia are now at their worst point since the darkest days of the Cold War. And the bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade has caused a serious rift in the Sino-American relationship. NATO's bombing campaign has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, the rest of Serbia, and neighboring countries. Good intentions alone cannot excuse the negative consequences of U.S. Kosovo policy.
Executive Summary

The Clinton administration has made one miscalculation after another in dealing with the Kosovo crisis. U.S. officials and their NATO colleagues never understood the historical and emotional importance of Kosovo to the Serbian people, believing instead that Belgrade's harsh repression of the ethnic Albanian secessionist movement in Kosovo merely reflected the will of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. The administration's foreign policy team mistakenly concluded that, under a threat of air strikes, the Yugoslav government would sign a dictated peace accord (the Rambouillet agreement) to be implemented by a NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo. Even if Milosevic initially refused to sign the Rambouillet agreement, administration leaders believed that Belgrade would relent after a brief "demonstration" bombing campaign. Those calculations proved to be disastrously wrong.



President Clinton and his advisers justified their decision to use force with two arguments: that NATO bombing was needed to prevent a Serbian military offensive in Kosovo with attendant "ethnic cleansing," and that vigorous action was essential to prevent the Kosovo conflict from spilling over into neighboring states, thereby destabilizing the southern Balkans. Administration leaders also hoped that NATO pressure would undermine Milosevic's political power and embolden the democratic opposition in Serbia. The bombing campaign has been wholly counterproductive with regard to all three objectives.



Administration officials have committed miscalculations eerily reminiscent of faulty U.S. assumptions during the Vietnam War. Those mistakes include overestimating the effectiveness of air power; underestimating the willingness of the target government and population to fight for their homeland; and demonizing the opposing political leader, thus making a negotiated settlement more difficult.



Even if Belgrade finally capitulates, the adverse effects of the administration's actions already constitute a policy fiasco. Instability in the Balkans is far worse than before the bombing. Relations with Russia are now at their worst point since the darkest days of the Cold War. And the bombing of China's embassy in Belgrade has caused a serious rift in the Sino-American relationship. NATO's bombing campaign has produced a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo, the rest of Serbia, and neighboring countries. Good intentions alone cannot excuse the negative consequences of U.S. Kosovo policy.

More info:

Published by: Cato Institute on Mar 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/10/2014

pdf

text

original

 
The Clinton administration has made onemiscalculation after another in dealing with theKosovo crisis. U.S. officials and their NATO col-leagues never understood the historical andemotional importance of Kosovo to the Serbianpeople, believing instead that Belgrade’s harshrepression of the ethnic Albanian secessionistmovement in Kosovo merely reflected the will of President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. Theadministrations foreign policy team mistakenlyconcluded that, under a threat of air strikes, theYugoslav government would sign a dictatedpeace accord (the Rambouillet agreement) to beimplemented by a NATO peacekeeping force inKosovo. Even if Milosevic initially refused to signthe Rambouillet agreement, administrationleaders believed that Belgrade would relent aftera brief “demonstration” bombing campaign.Those calculations proved to be disastrouslywrong.President Clinton and his advisers justifiedtheir decision to use force with two arguments:that NATO bombing was needed to prevent aSerbian military offensive in Kosovo withattendant “ethnic cleansing,” and that vigor-ous action was essential to prevent the Kosovoconflict from spilling over into neighboringstates, thereby destabilizing the southernBalkans. Administration leaders also hopedthat NATO pressure would undermineMilosevic’s political power and embolden thedemocratic opposition in Serbia. The bombingcampaign has been wholly counterproductivewith regard to all three objectives.Administration officials have committed mis-calculations eerily reminiscent of faulty U.S.assumptions during the Vietnam War. Thosemistakes include overestimating the effective-ness of air power; underestimating the willing-ness of the target government and population tofight for their homeland; and demonizing theopposing political leader, thus making a negoti-ated settlement more difficult.Even if Belgrade finally capitulates, theadverse effects of the administration’s actionsalready constitute a policy fiasco. Instability inthe Balkans is far worse than before the bomb-ing. Relations with Russia are now at their worstpoint since the darkest days of the Cold War.And the bombing of China’s embassy inBelgrade has caused a serious rift in the Sino-American relationship. NATO’s bombing cam-paign has produced a humanitarian catastrophein Kosovo, the rest of Serbia, and neighboringcountries. Good intentions alone cannot excusethe negative consequences of U.S. Kosovo policy.
 Blunder in the Balkans
The Clinton Administration’s BungleWar against Serbia
by Christopher Layne
Christopher Layne is a visiting scholar at the Center for International Studies at the University of SouthernCalifornia and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in Global Security.
Executive Summary
No. 345May 20, 1999
 
Introduction
It is impossible to foretell the ultimateoutcome of NATO’s first war. Nevertheless,it already is apparent that the Clintonadministration’s policy has failed in keyrespects. Instead of solving the humanitari-an crisis in Kosovo, the NATO air campaignhas greatly exacerbated it. Instead of pre-venting instability in the Balkans, NATO’sactions have worsened it. And, instead of weakening Yugoslav president SlobodanMilosevic’s hold on power, the NATO bom-bardment of Belgrade and other Yugoslavcities has solidified Serbian opinion behindhim and hardened Serbia’s resolve to resistthe alliance’s coercive strategy.The United States and NATO now findthemselves in a war that, however it ends,will leave the United States deeply entan-gled in the Balkans. At best, the UnitedStates and Western Europe will be left withthe long-term problems of resettlingrefugees, rebuilding war-shattered Kosovo,and propping up client states in Macedoniaand Albania.
1
It now seems highly likelythat, as a consequence of this conflict, a siz-able contingent of U.S. military forces willbe deployed, if only as peacekeepers, in andaround Kosovo far into the future. Atworst, the United States and NATO may yetstumble into a ground war with Yugoslavia.Against this backdrop, it is not too early toreview and assess the administration’sstrategy to date. The administration’s fail-ures bear crucially on whether the UnitedStates should escalate its military commit-ments and its war aims in this conflict.Two obvious questions about the admin-istrations policy must be asked: How did theUnited States become involved in this war?And why have things gone so badly duringthe first month and a half of the conflict?That the Clinton administration has blun-dered badly is apparent. The administrationexpected Belgrade would capitulate quicklyonce NATO bombing commenced. AndWashington had no backup plan in the eventthe air strikes failed to produce the expectedquick result. When asked by visiting Italianprime minister Massimo D’Alema whatwould happen if bombing did not forceBelgrade to back down and it instead steppedup its military campaign in Kosovo, PresidentClinton was reportedly unprepared toanswer. According to Italian sources, “Insteadof replying, he turned to his national securityadviser, Samuel R. Sandy’ Berger. After a brief hesitation, the sources said, Berger respond-ed: ‘We will continue the bombing.’”
2
Reflecting the prevailing view within theadministration on March 24—the first nightof hostilities—Secretary of State MadeleineAlbright declared, “I don’t see this as a long-term operation.”
3
Confronted with the failureof its bombing strategy, the administrationquickly changed its tune. Just 11 days afterproclaiming that the campaign against Serbiawould be over quicklyand confronted withthe failure of the NATO bombing to achieveits expected goal of forcing Belgrade to signthe Rambouillet accords—Albright, echoingthe new administration line, declared, “Wenever expected this to be over quickly.”
4
Theadministration’s claims that it expected themassive refugee flows that followed the startof the bombing, and that it expected the aeri-al campaign to be prolonged, were belied byits unpreparedness to deal with the refugeesand by the other hasty improvisations thatmarked the escalating bombardment of Yugoslavia.
5
Simply put, the Clinton admin-istration was unready to deal with the veryconsequences it
now
claims to have foreseen.
The Conflict in Kosovo:Background
Clinton administration officials seemedto have only the haziest understanding of theKosovo conflict’s historical or even near-termcontext.
6
President Clinton’s remark that theUnited States cannot stand by while peopleare driven from their homes just because of their religion or ethnicity reflects a lack of historical awareness. The liberal notion of 
2
The United Statesand NATO nowfind themselvesin a war that willleave the UnitedStates deeplyentangled in theBalkans.
 
“civic nationalism” ostensibly may prevail inthe United States, but in other parts of theworld—the Balkans are a prime example—religion, kinship, and ethnicity are the defin-ing elements of national and group identity.
7
In regions like the Balkans, passions, notAmerican notions of “rational choice,” arethe determinants of conflict. Before theUnited States is drawn even more deeply intothe Kosovo war, the conflict’s roots should beunderstood.Deeply rooted ethnic and religious ani-mosities are pervasive in the Balkans. Formore than half a millennium, the region hasbeen a fault line separating EuropeanChristendom from the Islamic world.
8
Theorigins of the current conflict go back to1389, when the Ottoman Empire defeated anarmy led by Serbian Prince Lazar at KosovoPolje, the Field of Blackbirds.
9
As a result of their defeat, the Serbs were subjected toOttoman rule until being granted indepen-dence by Europe’s great powers at the 1878Congress of Berlin. (It was not until theBalkan Wars, in 1912–13, that Serbia wrestedKosovo from the Ottoman Empire.) Over theintervening centuries, Kosovo Polje wastransformed into an epic tale of Serbian hero-ism, and the battle became the centerpiece of the national myth that sustained the Serbsduring their long subjugation to Ottomanrule. Kosovo was also seen by the Serbs as thecradle of their civilization and was (andremains) home to churches, monasteries, andother sites of great historical significance tothe Serbian nation.Untangling the grievances of rival Balkanpeoples is no easy task. Who did what towhom, and why, is not always clear, anddepending on the starting point, one arrivesat different answers. In this century, there isno doubt that the Serbs’ pent-up hatred of Muslim ethnic Albanians and Turks inKosovo found violent expression in theBalkan Wars. As one regional expert notes:The Balkan Wars were to set the prece-dent in this century for massive wavesof ethnic cleansing and the forcedmigrations of hundreds of thousandsof people. All the worst evils that werewitnessed in the former Yugoslaviabetween 1991 and 1995 were presentin the Balkan Wars, including large-scale massacres of civilians, thedestruction of whole towns, and thegross manipulation of the media.
10
After World War I, the new, Serb-dominatedYugoslav government followed a discrimina-tory policy toward Kosovo’s ethnicAlbanians. During World War II, which forYugoslavia was also a bloody civil war, manyethnic Albanians sought revenge against theSerbs by siding with the German and Italianoccupiers, and the Nazi SS was notably suc-cessful in recruiting troops from Kosovo’sethnic Albanian population. (The same wastrue of the Muslim population in Bosnia.)During the post–World War II rule of Marshal Josef Broz Tito, Yugoslavia’s latentethnic conflicts were suppressed. Tito, how-ever, tended to tilt against the Serbs when itcame to the distribution of power withinthe Yugoslavian federation. Specifically, inKosovo he largely allowed the ethnicAlbanians to remain in control, much tothe dismay of the Serbian population. In1974 Tito went even further and grantedenhanced autonomy to Kosovo, the popula-tion of which was increasingly comprised of ethnic Albanians.By the late 1980s, when SlobodanMilosevic launched his rise to power by play-ing the “Kosovo card,” an attempt to tapSerbian national sentiment, ethnic Albaniansmade up nearly 90 percent of the province’spopulation. On the eve of World War II, Serbshad accounted for more than 25 percent, andperhaps as much as 40 percent, of the popu-lation. Their declining numbers in Kosovoare explained by three factors. First, duringWorld War II, many Serbs were killed, andothers fled to escape retribution from ethnicAlbanians. Second, during the Tito period,many Serbs left Kosovo because they feltthemselves to be victims of discrimination bythe ethnic Albanian authorities running the
3
Untangling thegrievances of rivalBalkan peoples isno easy task. Whodid what towhom, and why, isnot always clear.

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->