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Dubious Anniversary: Kosovo One Year Later, Cato Policy Analysis No. 373

Dubious Anniversary: Kosovo One Year Later, Cato Policy Analysis No. 373

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Published by Cato Institute
Executive Summary

One year after NATO ended its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, the Clinton administration's Kosovo policy is a conspicuous failure. Kosovo is now the scene of a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by NATO's erstwhile de facto ally, the Kosovo Liberation Army, an organization profoundly inimical to America's interests and professed values. The KLA is also currently fomenting an insurgency elsewhere in Serbia, which promises to destabilize the Balkans even further.

The Clinton administration has embarked on yet another multi-billion-dollar nation-building adventure, which many analysts suggest will entangle the U.S. military for a decade or longer. This situation could have been avoided. Because of its inept diplomacy and strategic miscalculation, the administration bears a large measure of responsibility for both Kosovo's humanitarian crisis a year ago and the KLA's postwar thuggery. It is now clear that the administration's claims of "horrific slaughter" and attempts at "genocide" by the Serbs were gross exaggerations designed to whip up support for intervention from a skeptical Congress and public.

Confronting Kosovo's depressing prospects, the administration consoles itself that, as President Clinton says, it "did the right thing in the right way" when it intervened. Even granting that doubtful premise, this is not enough to exonerate policymakers from their responsibility for the situation the United States confronts today. In the real world, policymakers are judged by the consequences of their actions, not by their intentions. The Kosovo war has not vindicated the administration's doctrine of "virtuous power." By waging an avoidable war, the Clinton administration has saddled the United States with a host of intractable problems
Executive Summary

One year after NATO ended its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, the Clinton administration's Kosovo policy is a conspicuous failure. Kosovo is now the scene of a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by NATO's erstwhile de facto ally, the Kosovo Liberation Army, an organization profoundly inimical to America's interests and professed values. The KLA is also currently fomenting an insurgency elsewhere in Serbia, which promises to destabilize the Balkans even further.

The Clinton administration has embarked on yet another multi-billion-dollar nation-building adventure, which many analysts suggest will entangle the U.S. military for a decade or longer. This situation could have been avoided. Because of its inept diplomacy and strategic miscalculation, the administration bears a large measure of responsibility for both Kosovo's humanitarian crisis a year ago and the KLA's postwar thuggery. It is now clear that the administration's claims of "horrific slaughter" and attempts at "genocide" by the Serbs were gross exaggerations designed to whip up support for intervention from a skeptical Congress and public.

Confronting Kosovo's depressing prospects, the administration consoles itself that, as President Clinton says, it "did the right thing in the right way" when it intervened. Even granting that doubtful premise, this is not enough to exonerate policymakers from their responsibility for the situation the United States confronts today. In the real world, policymakers are judged by the consequences of their actions, not by their intentions. The Kosovo war has not vindicated the administration's doctrine of "virtuous power." By waging an avoidable war, the Clinton administration has saddled the United States with a host of intractable problems

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Published by: Cato Institute on Mar 26, 2009
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One year after NATO ended its bombingcampaign against Yugoslavia, the Clintonadministration’s Kosovo policy is a conspicuousfailure. Kosovo is now the scene of a brutal eth-nic cleansing campaign carried out by NATO’serstwhile de facto ally, the Kosovo LiberationArmy, an organization profoundly inimical toAmerica’s interests and professed values. TheKLA is also currently fomenting an insurgencyelsewhere in Serbia, which promises to destabi-lize the Balkans even further.The Clinton administration has embarked onyet another multi-billion-dollar nation-buildingadventure, which many analysts suggest willentangle the U.S. military for a decade or longer.This situation could have been avoided. Becauseof its inept diplomacy and strategic miscalcula-tion, the administration bears a large measure of responsibility for both Kosovo’s humanitariancrisis a year ago and the KLA’s postwar thuggery.It is now clear that the administration’s claims of “horrific slaughter” and attempts at “genocide”by the Serbs were gross exaggerations designedto whip up support for intervention from a skep-tical Congress and public.Confronting Kosovo’s depressing prospects,the administration consoles itself that, asPresident Clinton says, it “did the right thingin the right way” when it intervened. Evengranting that doubtful premise, this is notenough to exonerate policymakers from theirresponsibility for the situation the UnitedStates confronts today. In the real world, poli-cymakers are judged by the consequences of their actions, not by their intentions. TheKosovo war has not vindicated the administra-tion’s doctrine of “virtuous power.” By wagingan avoidable war, the Clinton administrationhas saddled the United States with a host of intractable problems.
 Dubious Anniversary
Kosovo One Year Later 
by Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Christopher Layne is a visiting fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. Benjamin Schwarz is acorrespondent for the
Atlantic Monthly.
Executive Summary
No. 373June 10, 2000
 
Introduction
One year ago, NATO concluded 78 days of intense bombing against Yugoslavia. The U.S.-led campaign was the most aggressive test todate of the Clinton administration’s self-styled doctrine of “virtuous power”—thenotion that the United States should inter-vene in other countries’ internal conflictswhen American sensibilities are outraged.Although the United States and its allies wona military victory of sorts, Washington’sdeclared objectives of bringing stability to theBalkans and building multiethnic democracyin Kosovo have been conspicuous failures.That result was entirely foreseeable, and nowthe United States and its allies may well findthemselves pulled further into the quagmireas the Kosovo conflict enters a new phase: theUnited States and NATO are drifting towardarmed confrontation with their erstwhile ally,the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is stillbent on forging a “Greater Albania.”
The New Ethnic Cleansing
The bankruptcy of the Clinton adminis-tration’s Kosovo policy became obvious inthe weeks preceding the one-year anniversaryof the commencement of NATO’s bombing,but there were earlier signals as well.Foremost among them was the ongoingdeadly violence committed by ethnicAlbanians trying to expel the remaining non-Albanian populations from the province.
1
Ina December 1999 report, the Organizationfor Security and Cooperation in Europe con-cluded that the attacks on Serbs and othernon-Albanians were orchestrated by the sup-posedly disbanded KLA. According to thereport, which catalogs the human rights vio-lations committed in Kosovo from the time50,000 heavily armed NATO troops enteredKosovo until October 1999, ethnic violenceaimed at Serbs and other non-Albaniansincludedexecutions, abductions, torture, cruel,inhuman and degrading treatment,arbitrary arrests and attempts torestrict freedom of expression. Houseburnings, blockades restricting free-dom of movement, discriminatorytreatment in schools, hospitals,humanitarian aid distribution andother public services based on ethnicbackground, and forced evictionsfrom housing recall some of the worstpractices of Kosovo’s recent past. . . .In many of the cases . . . there are seri-ous indications that the perpetratorsof human rights violations are eithermembers of the former KLA, peoplepassing themselves off as members of the former KLA or members of otherarmed Albanian groups.
2
In March 2000 analysts at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group werereporting that, notwithstanding the Clintonadministration’s claims that the KLA haddemilitarized, the KLAin its various manifestations . . .remains a powerful and active ele-ment in almost every element of Kosovo life. . . . The KLA was neverrigidly structured, resembling morean association of clans than a hierar-chical military force. Some parts of the old KLA operate openly andessentially as before; others havebeen transformed; some new ele-ments have been added; and muchremains underground.
3
NATO’s Rationalizations
During the first two months of 2000,most of the trouble in Kosovo centered onthe northern town of Mitrovica—whereNATO peacekeepers were caught in the cross-fire between Serbs and ethnic Albanians.Among the incidents were a confrontationbetween rock-throwing Serbs and U.S. sol-diers and an ethnic Albanian–instigatedattack that wounded some two dozen Serbsand 16 French peacekeepers.
4
NATO secre-
2
Washington’sdeclared objec-tives of bringingstability to theBalkans andbuilding multi-ethnic democracyin Kosovo havebeen conspicuousfailures.
 
tary-general George Robertson minimizedthe relevance of the violence in Mitrovica byblithely pointing out that “the murder rate[in Kosovo] has declined from over 50 perweek in June 1999 to around five per week today.”
5
Similarly, NATO commander Gen.Wesley Clark asserted, “The level of violence[in Kosovo] has come down remarkably, andwhat remains is primarily organized crimeand family violence.”
6
Robertson and Clark,however, failed to point out that the murderrate has fallen precisely because Kosovo hasbeen virtually cleansed of non-Albanian mur-der targets. To put it another way, Robertsonand Clark point to Kosovo’s declining mur-der rate as evidence of NATO’s “success,”when in fact it is evidence of NATO’s failureto stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo’sminority populations.Outside Mitrovica, ethnic Albanian terrorattacks on Kosovo’s remaining Serbs havecontinued in an ongoing pattern of violencethat has been orchestrated by the KLA sincethe NATO bombing ended.
7
On at least twooccasions in February, UN authoritieswarned that violence by ethnic Albaniansagainst Serbs was increasing throughoutKosovo, and in March the UN warned thatKosovo’s new national guard, the KosovoProtection Corps—composed of former KLAguerrillas—was engaged in illegal activitiesand human rights abuses.
8
Disorder Spreading outside Kosovo
Even more troubling than the ongoingattacks on Kosovo’s Serbs is that the KLA isfomenting an insurgency across the provin-cial border, in Serbia’s predominantly ethnicAlbanian–inhabited Presevo valley—whichthe KLA calls “Eastern Kosovo.” In a disturb-ing replay of the strategy it used from early1998 until the NATO bombing campaigncommenced, the KLA is attacking Serbianpolicemen and civilians—and ethnicAlbanians loyal to Belgrade—in the hope of provoking Yugoslav authorities into aresponse that will incite the United Statesand NATO to resume the war withYugoslavia. (That ABC’s
World News Tonight 
recently reported the massing of Serbiantroops in “Yugoslav-held territory” without ahint about why they were gathering indicateshow well such a strategy works.) As a UN offi-cial in Kosovo said, the KLA is “hoping thatthe Serbs will retaliate with excessive forceagainst civilian populations and create awave of outrage and pressure on KFOR[NATO’s Kosovo Force] to respond.”
9
Belatedly awakening to the danger posedby the KLA’s cross-border insurgency, U.S.forces on March 16 raided the arms cachesand other logistical infrastructure used bythe KLA to sustain its operations withinSerbia.
10
In mid-April peacekeeping troops inKosovo arrested 12 ethnic Albanians oncharges of illegal possession of arms andother military materiel after the driver of atruck failed to stop when flagged down at acheckpoint. In the truck, peacekeepers found80 anti-tank mines, 40 hand grenades, andlarge quantities of guns and ammunition.
11
And in late April NATO peacekeepers arrest-ed four ethnic Albanians after a house searchin the town of Sedlare yielded hand grenades,AK-47 assault rifles, and ammunition.
12
Fourethnic Albanians were detained near thetown of Djakovica after peacekeepers discov-ered various weapons, ammunition, andexplosives.
13
Hoodwinking Washington
Notwithstanding the downward spiral of events in Kosovo, and the KLA’s role infomenting the instability, U.S. officials—notably Secretary of State MadeleineAlbright in a March 8 speech in Prague—havelabeled Belgrade the chief instigator of vio-lence in Kosovo. Clearly, the regime of Slobodan Milosevic is not an innocentbystander, but the KLA has indisputablybeen the heavy in Kosovo since NATO endedits bombing campaign. Exemplifying theClinton administration’s Alice-in-Wonder-land version of the situation, in her Praguespeech Albright blamed “extremists” on bothsides but exempted the KLA, which she
3
The KLA isfomenting aninsurgencyacross theprovincial bor-der, in Serbia’spredominantlyethnic AlbanianinhabitedPresevo valley.

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