KOSOVO AND THE CHALLENGE OF HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION
Peace and Governance Programme
Selective Indignation, Collective Intervention, and International Citizenship
The United Nations University
and Ramesh Thakur
INTRODUCTION - LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Policy Brief: Lessons from the Kosovo Conflict
Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh Thakur
PART ONE - THE KOSOVO CRISIS
2. Kosovo in the Twentieth Century: A Historical Account
3. The Kosovo Conflict: A Perspective From Inside
4. The Closing of the Kosovo Cycle: Victimization Versus Responsibility
5. The Kosovo Conflict: The Balkans and the Southern Caucasus
George Khutsishvili and Albrecht Schnabel
PART TWO - THE MAJOR PLAYERS
6. The Costs of Victory: American Power and the Use of Force in the Contemporary Order
G. John Ikenberry
7. Russia: Reassessing National Interests
8. China: Whither World Order After Kosovo?
9. The Major European Allies: France, Germany and the United Kingdom
Simon Duke, Hans-Georg Ehrhart and Matthias Karádi
PART THREE - VIEWS FROM NATO ALLIES
10. The Nordic Countries: Whither the Wests Critical Conscience?
11. The Southern Flank: Italy, Greece, Turkey
12. Kosovo and the Case of the (Not So) Free Riders: Belgium, Canada, Portugal and
David Haglund and Allen Sens
13. The New Entrants: Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic
Péter Tálas and László Valki
PART FOUR - SELECTED INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES
14. The Muslim World: Uneasy Ambivalence
Ibrahim A. Karawan
15. Latin America: The Dilemmas of Intervention
16. South Africa: The Demand for Legitimate Multilateralism
17. India: An Uneasy Precedent
PART FIVE - CHALLENGES OF THE POST-WAR ORDER
18. NATO: From Collective Defence to Peace Enforcement
19. The United Nations System and the Kosovo Crisis
A.J.R. Groom and Paul Taylor
20. The Concept of Humanitarian Intervention Revisited
21. The Concept of Sovereignty Revisited
Alan M. James
PART SIX - OPINION, MEDIA, CIVIL SOCIETY
22. Analogies at War: The United States, the Conflict in Kosovo and the Uses of History
George C. Herring
23. Media Coverage of the War: An Empirical Assessment
24. Effective Indignation? Building Global Awareness, NGOs, and the Enforcement of
PART SEVEN - FORCE, DIPLOMACY AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
25. The Inevitability of Selective Response? Principles to Guide Urgent International
Lori Fisler Damrosch
26. The Split-Screen War: Kosovo and Changing Concepts of the Use of Force
27. Military History Overturned: Did Air Power Win the War?
28. Force, Diplomacy and Norms
29. Solidarity Versus Geostrategy: Kosovo and the Dilemmas of International Democratic
30. The Good International Citizen and the Crisis in Kosovo
The Kosovo conflict has the potential to redraw the landscape of international politics, with significant ramifications for the UN, major powers and
regional organizations as well as for the way in which we understand and interpret world
politics. Can the UN Security Council veto now effectively be circumvented to launch
selective enforcement operations? Can the humanitarian imperative be reconciled with the
principle of state sovereignty? What can we learn about the evolving contours of world
politics in the wake of the Kosovo conflict? We hope to be able to offer a meaningful
contribution to this continuing and important debate - a debate that is crucial to
our understanding of global politics at the beginning of this new century.
Within days after the beginning of NATO airstrikes over Kosovo, we
proposed to UNU to undertake a major study on the implications of NATOs involvement
in the Kosovo conflict. Our intent was to draw on some of the best scholarship available
to examine the Kosovo crisis from numerous perspectives - from the conflict-parties
and NATO allies, from the immediate region surrounding the conflict and further afield
- complemented by lessons for the longer term normative, operational and structural
consequences of the Kosovo crisis for world politics. The response was positive, and we
were given the means and support to bring together a group of 36 scholars and
practitioners to produce a systematic assessment of the Kosovo conflict and its
consequences for the changing contours of international society. In September 1999 all the
authors convened in Budapest, Hungary, to share and discuss their draft contributions. The
resulting book will be available in the summer of 2000 (Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh
Thakur, eds. Kosovo and the Challenge of Humanitarian Intervention: Selective
Indignation, Collective Action and International Citizenship. Tokyo, United Nations
This research brief is comprised of two main sections. The first
section (the Introduction) is a policy brief that has been distributed in similar form to
policy makers, analysts, and UN and Member State officials. As part of this effort,
several events - both at the UN and at academic institutions - have been
organized by the United Nations University to reach as large an audience as possible. The
second section (Parts One through Seven) of this publication features brief summaries of
all individual contributions to the project. Here, each author has attempted to focus on
the main issues, arguments and lessons, and - insofar as the contribution lends
itself to such - on specific recommendations for further study or action by national
and international policy makers. We hope that this research brief and the subsequent book
will stimulate thought and further discussion within both the policy-making and academic
We would like to acknowledge a number of individuals who have been instrumental in
making this research brief (and the separately distributed policy brief) possible: We
express our deep gratitude to Manfred Boemeke, Senior Dissemination Officer and
Head, United Nations University Press, and his colleague Sumiko Sudo
for producing the policy and research briefs. We are grateful to William Auckerman for
copyediting the draft manuscript. We thank Yoshie Sawada in the Peace and Governance
Programme for her support and assistance, and Jacques Fomerand and Mary-Esther Leung of
UNUs Office in North America for making it possible to share our findings with the
wider UN community at a symposium at UN Headquarters.
Tokyo, March 2000
Duska Anastasijevic is a staff writer for the independent weekly Vreme,
Belgrade, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Vladimir Baranovsky is Deputy Director at the Institute of World
Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences, and Professor at
the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Moscow, Russia.
Coral Bell is a visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defence
Studies Centre of the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
Nicola Butler is a senior analyst for the Acronym Institute,
London, United Kingdom.
Marie-Janine Calic is expert advisor to the special Coordinator of
the Stability Pact, Brussels, and a historian and political scientist at the German
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Ebenhausen, Germany.
Jean-Marc Coicaud is a Senior Academic Programme Officer in the
Peace and Governance Programme of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan.
Lori Fisler Damrosch is the Henry L. Moses Professor of
International Law and Organization at Columbia University, New York, USA.
Agon Demjaha is an adviser (and was the founding director) of the
Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, Pristina, Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Simon Duke is an Associate Professor at the European Institute of
Public Administration, Maastricht, Netherlands.
Hans-Georg Ehrhart is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for
Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), Hamburg, Germany.
Lawrence Freedman is Professor of War Studies at King's College,
London, United Kingdom.
Ray Funnell is retired Air Marshall of the Royal Australian Air
Felice Gaer is Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the
Advancement of Human Rights at the American Jewish Committee, New York, USA.
A.J.R. Groom is Professor of International Relations and Head of
the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Kent at
Canterbury, United Kingdom.
David Haglund is Director of the Centre for International Relations
and Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queens University, Kingston,
George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of History at the University
of Kentucky, Lexington, USA.
G. John Ikenberry is Professor of Political Science at the
University of Pennsylvania and Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution,
Alan M. James is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at
Keele University, Keele, United Kingdom.
Matthias Z. Karádi is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Peace
Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), Hamburg, Germany.
Ibrahim Karawan is Associate Professor of Political Science at the
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA.
George Khutsishvili is Founding Director of the International
Center on Conflict and Negotiation (ICCN) and Adjunct Professor of Peace and Conflict
Studies at Tbilisi State University and Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia.
Georgios Kostakos is Academic Adviser at the University of Athens
and Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).
Andrew Linklater is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of International
Politics at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom.
Steven Livingston is Associate Professor of Political Communication
and International Affairs, Director of the Political Communication Program, and Associate
Professor of International Affairs in the Elliot School of International Affairs at The
George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA.
James B.L. Mayall is Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International
Relations and Director of the Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge,
Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Bjřrn Mřller is Secretary General of the International Peace
Research Association, External Lecturer at the University of Copenhagen and Senior
Research Fellow at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI), Copenhagen, Denmark.
Satish Nambiar is a retired Lieutenant General of the Indian Army,
was the first Force Commander and Head of Mission of UNPROFOR in the former Yugoslavia,
and is currently Director of the United Service Institution of India.
Philip Nel is Professor of Political Science, Department Chair, and
Director of the Centre for International and Comparative Politics at the University of
Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Albrecht Schnabel is an Academic Programme Officer in the Peace and
Governance Programme of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan.
Allen Sens is a Sessional Instructor in the Department of Political
Science and a Research Fellow at the Institute for International Relations at the
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Mónica Serrano is Professor at the Centro de Estudios
Internacionales at El Colegio de México and Research Fellow at the Centre for
International Studies, Oxford University, United Kingdom.
Péter Tálas is Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of
Strategic and Defence Studies at the National Defence University in Budapest, Hungary.
Paul Taylor is Professor of International Relations and Chair of
the Department, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom.
Ramesh Thakur is Head of the Peace and Governance Programme and
Vice Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan.
László Valki is a Professor of International Law at the Eötvös
Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary.
Zhang Yunling is a Professor of International Economics and
Director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Institute of Japanese Studies, and
the APEC Policy Research Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS), Beijing,
INTRODUCTION - LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS top
1. Policy Brief: Lessons from the Kosovo Conflict top
Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh Thakur
The Roots of the Conflict: History and Politics
- Competing constructions of history have served to perpetuate a climate of hatred between
the ethnic Serb and Albanian communities and triggered the spiral of conflict. Each side
has maintained a perception of history as an oscillating domination by one or the other
side, and each claims exclusive rights and sovereignty over the same piece of land.
A Very Slow Response from the International Community
- The recent conflict mainly resulted from the deliberate and strategic policies of
Serbias ruling elites, which had the short-term goal of securing the continuation of
their own power and shoring up the existing power structure that had been showing signs of
decay since the mid-1980s.
- Although an explosion of the Kosovo powder keg was often predicted, international
efforts to contain the conflict were modest and hesitant. Later, faced with brutal and
rapidly escalating hostilities, the international community reacted in a confused manner.
NATOs Decision to Intervene
- The international community was reminded that the Dayton Agreement, which had ended the
wars in Bosnia, did not put a lid on instability, ethnic competition, conflicting
territorial claims, underdevelopment and poverty in the region. Moreover, this has taught
us about the important roles that need to be played in the region by non-military
organizations - in particular, the European Union, the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations.
- Action by the UN Security Council would have been blocked by Russian and Chinese
opposition to military intervention in Kosovo. The Uniting for Peace Resolution was not
invoked to seek authorization from the UN General Assembly. Rather, NATO unilaterally
decided to intervene. The choice of NATO as the vehicle for intervention in Kosovo
suggests that this was a European response to a European problem
and would not
necessarily presage comparable action anywhere outside Europe.
- What was at stake was not only the fate of the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. It
was also the standing and reputation of the major democratic countries involved in the
NATO operation, and the credibility of NATO itself. Ultimately, it was a matter of setting
the tone for the years to come, with full understanding of the implications that these
decisions and actions could have on the future of the international system.
- Fundamental policy differences between the NATO allies led to a "lowest common
denominator" approach to achieving military objectives. Air strikes did not prevent
widespread atrocities against civilians on the ground in Kosovo or the mass exodus of
refugees into neighboring countries.
- The war over Kosovo was, in general, an unproblematic conflict for the small powers
among NATOs allies, because its status as a "humanitarian war" made it
easy to justify to political leaders (if not always to their publics). Despite mixed
public and official responses, the new NATO entrants proved to be loyal, and the
established members showed firm solidarity.
Critical Reactions from the International Community
- American leadership in the campaign was striking. While Americas constructive
participation is indispensable to the international communitys search for solutions
to problems of security, justice, economic growth and political governance, it can be
profoundly worrisome to try to cooperate with a large and potentially unpredictable
superpower that is itself uncertain of how much global leadership it wants to provide.
World order and Pax Americana are roughly the same thing today. But American hegemony
- regardless of how open, benign and enlightened it might be - is a poor
substitute for a more inclusive, institutionalized and widely agreed upon international
- The developments of the Kosovo conflict have distinctly influenced Russias
perception of its relations with the outside world in a more fundamental way than most
other events during the last decade. Any possible arguments that NATO might become a
stability-provider for Europe have lost validity for Russia.
- China worries that what happened in Yugoslavia yesterday may occur in Asia, especially
in China, tomorrow. The problem of a strong power (or powers) using force against a weak
one (or ones) based on its (their) own "values" will only create disorder. China
supports a multipolar world order; while China does not want to challenge or compete with
US superiority, it rejects US domination or hegemony.
- Many of those in Islamic countries who supported the NATO operation because the Muslims
in Kosovo might ultimately benefit from it, now argue that the Alliance committed
strategic mistakes in carrying out its military operations. These mistakes include not
intervening earlier, refusing to deploy ground troops to put a decisive end to the
conflict, and not anticipating Milosevics resort to evicting hundreds of thousands
of Muslims from Kosovo.
- The South African government, reflecting the positions of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
and Organization of African Unity (OAU) in particular, wanted to make clear that
unilateral intervention, no matter how noble the pretext, is not acceptable. A broad,
non-discriminatory multilateralism (in all issue areas, including security and trade)
remains the best safeguard that the developing world has against unilateral misuse of
power by the strong.
Sanctions Dont Work
- Many developing countries fear that the international community runs the danger of
becoming hostage to the machinations of a few privileged and powerful countries. Moves are
already afoot to seek common positions, if not alignments, and for a restructuring of the
United Nations Security Council. Many developing countries may feel compelled to move
towards ensuring greater security for themselves through acquisition of more weaponry.
There is almost total unanimity in India, for example, that the country needs to
strengthen itself militarily to the extent that there can be no scope for any outside
interference in affairs on the subcontinent.
Precluding the Use of Ground Forces was Ill-advised
- Whatever the justification in other contexts, if the objective is the relief of
suffering in - and the democratization of - the targeted society, sanctions are
a grotesquely inappropriate instrument of policy.
Media Coverage Bolstered Public Support
- In the Kosovo context, excluding the deployment of ground forces from the beginning was
a serious mistake. Uncertainty about the possible use of ground forces should have been
preserved, and in future interventions a principle of ambiguity should be respected.
NGOs Were Torn Between Humanitarianism and the Use of Force
- Pictures of refugees tended to bolster US and European public support for the military
action, while pictures of collateral damage - the death of civilians by errant NATO
bombs - undermined support for the bombing. However, concern for "mistakes"
was balanced by concern for the plight of ethnic Albanian refugees. More than any other
factor, the constant stream of refugees and reports of Serbian atrocities tended to
bolster support for the war.
The Prospects for Stability in Kosovo Are Grim
- By and large, calls for use of force came from relatively few NGOs, with the most public
appeals coming from NGOs located outside the region. NGO positions on the use of force
reflected the legal and moral norms they devote themselves to upholding and enforcing
globally, and an aversion to the use of violence in settling international disputes. Far
from being "selective indignation," their actions reflected efforts to implement
global norms universally, with an impact that could instead be termed "effective
- If the age-old divide between the two communities in Kosovo was widened by the
imposition of absolute Serbian rule in 1990, the atrocities committed by the Serbian
regime during the NATO campaign appear to have broken all bonds beyond repair.
- The Albanian political leadership and a major part of Kosovos population continue
to insist on independence. The historical dream of creating a unified pan-Albanian state
is still persistent.
- There is a worrying lack of a long-term plan for implementing a settlement in Kosovo.
The application of a double standard for ethnic Albanians ("all victims") and
Serbs ("all perpetrators") has made it almost impossible to implement Resolution
1244, whose aim was to respect the territorial integrity of the FRY (with Kosovo as a
- Neither the Rambouillet Accords nor UN Security Council Resolution 1244 clarify the
future status of Kosovo. The lack of agreement on the future territorial status of Kosovo
makes the task of the UNMIK more difficult, further confuses both Serbs and Albanians and
leaves space for self-serving misinterpretations and propaganda.
- Peace support operations in Kosovo, along with Bosnia-Herzegovina, now look set to
continue indefinitely. NATO expended huge military and political resources on a relatively
small region, and yet the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia are still far from resolved.
Military power alone has not been sufficient, and other skills and expertise will be
needed if reconciliation and reconstruction are to proceed in the Balkans.
Unless Serbian Society Embraces Democracy
- The current situation in Kosovo can only be an interim solution - in the form of an
open-ended protectorate. It is clear that the only lasting solution is a political
settlement that reconciles legitimate ethnic Albanian interests about the future of the
province and long-term peace with Serbia.
NATOs War Has Brought Southeastern Europe Back into the Spotlight
- If the cycle of self-victimization is ever to be broken, t he grassroots democracy that
has again begun to emerge throughout Serbia needs to adopt a more responsible perception
of Serbias history and national identity. For this to happen, Serbs must start
building truly democratic institutions which will be prepared to examine not only the
effects of Milosevics rule, but also the reason for his continued political success.
Only then will Serbia create the conditions for its return to the society of states and
re-establish friendly relations with its neighbors, Kosovo included.
- NATOs war in and over Kosovo and the subsequently increased international presence
in the region have brought much needed attention to the Southeast European region. The new
momentum for peace, security and stability in the Balkans should embrace as well the
Military Power Was Used Poorly
- It is time that Southeast European countries address their problems as a community and
as a region, and deal with conflicts and state misbehaviour and failure (as in the case of
Serbia) by themselves, particularly if they want to avoid continued great power
intervention. Regional integration, confidence building, early warning, conflict
prevention and development should be main foreign policy goals throughout Southeastern
Europe, both within the Balkans and the Southern Caucasus as well as between those two
NATO Acting Without the UN Sets a Dangerous Precedent
- In the Kosovo conflict, military power was not used well. This, in turn, was the result
of the fact that, in the main, senior politicians and those who advise them have not
studied the military and the power they deploy; they neither understand military power nor
appreciate the difficulties associated with its use, and consequently err in using it.
This situation must be corrected. Too many precious resources are wasted, too much
devastation occurs and, most importantly of all, too many lives are lost because those
entrusted with making decisions on using military power have neither the knowledge nor the
skill to do so wisely.
Or Does It?
- A dangerous precedent has been set in the Balkans, whereby NATO takes action with UN
backing when possible, but without it if Alliance members think it necessary.
Principled Responses? Most Likely Not
- Although comparable circumstance may not be lacking, for political and strategic reasons
operations along the lines of those in Kosovo may not often be embarked upon in the
immediate future. This will further delay the widespread acknowledgment of a reshaped
norm. The Kosovo crisis has undoubtedly introduced some change into the wider world, but
- A code of rules governing intervention would be likely in the early 21st
century to limit rather than help effective and responsible action on the part of the
international community. The charge of double standards is inevitable. Nevertheless, the
creation and strengthening of humanitarian norms in the medium and long term is a
- Any attempt to get general agreements among governments about the principles which
should govern intervention through Security Council Resolutions would be
counter-productive at this time. Intervention in present circumstances has to depend upon
a conjunction of the various overlapping interests of states and a common perception of
the relevance in particular instances of moral principles. Agreement in advance on general
rules governing when intervention could take place would be very difficult to achieve,
unless on the basis of a minimum common denominator that would make it more difficult even
in cases of gross violations of basic standards.
A Dilemma for the International Citizen
- It may not be feasible to expect to achieve anything like principled responses at the
international level in the foreseeable future, at least where the issue concerns military
intervention to enforce international law. It may be inevitable, possibly even preferable,
for responses to international crises to unfold selectively, when those who have the
capability to respond also have motivations for undertaking the burdens of intervention.
Scarce resources may need to be allocated in accordance with the preferences and values of
those who are committing the resources. Such interventions could well prove more effective
than unrealistically altruistic ones.
- The good international citizen faces a painful dilemma. To respect sovereignty is to be
complicit in human rights violations; to rely on economic sanctions and diplomatic
pressure - and to argue that the UN Security Council must give its consent to
humanitarian war - risks accusations of failing to act decisively against violent
regimes. Yet to use force unilaterally risks accusations of violating international law
and of setting unfortunate precedents.
- Perhaps the dilemma can be overcome by trying to promote an international consensus
about the point at which a state forfeits its sovereignty, and by efforts to remove the
Great Power veto in exceptional circumstances so that the support of a majority of the
Great Powers is all that is required to permit states to engage in humanitarian war.
Without such international agreements, good international citizens may be tempted -
and may come under pressure from their domestic populations - to go it alone. While
it is hard to condemn them if they do, it is also hard to support their efforts other than
in the most extreme of circumstances and with the assumption that the use of force will
not cause more problems than it solves.
PART ONE - THE KOSOVO CRISIS top
2. Kosovo in the Twentieth Century: A Historical Account top
Although an explosion of the Kosovo powder keg had often been
predicted, international efforts to contain the conflict were modest. It was not until the
emergence of the first violent clashes in late 1997 that major international actors put
the issue high on their political agenda. Faced with a brutal and quickly escalating war,
the international community was unable to cope. Although countless international
organizations, national governments and special envoys attempted to mediate between the
parties, this was done mainly on a half-hearted and contradictory basis.
On 24 September 1997, the International Contact Group for the first
time voiced their concern over tensions in Kosovo and issued an appeal for negotiations.
They established a new working group on this issue and sent a delegation to the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). This delegation urged Belgrade to (i) initiate a
"peaceful dialogue" with Pristina, (ii) allow an OSCE-led observer mission to
Kosovo, Sandshak and Vojvodina, (iii) accept international mediation, and (iv) grant a
"special status" to Kosovo. Belgrade, however, declared that Kosovo was an
internal affair and nobody elses business, and rejected these proposals. In its
Moscow declaration of 25 February 1998, the Contact Group declared that any solution on
special status would be acceptable, as long as both sides were in agreement.
In response to the escalation of violence in March 1998, the UN
Security Council imposed an arms embargo as well as economic and diplomatic sanctions
against the FRY, calling for a "real dialogue" between the conflicting parties.
As the fighting continued, displacing several tens of thousands of people, NATO in June
1998 stepped up its military presence in neighboring Macedonia and Albania and started to
threaten Belgrade with air strikes. It was not until September, however, that NATO issued
an Activation Warning (ACTWARN) for an air campaign in the FRY.
In its resolution 1199 of 23 September 1998, the UN Security Council
called for an immediate cease-fire, withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces,
complete access for humanitarian organizations, and cooperation on the investigation of
war crimes in Kosovo. Although the resolution did not explicitly threaten the use of
"all necessary means," NATO interpreted this as a legitimization for the use of
military force against the FRY. By this time, the UNHCR estimated that there were about
After an ultimatum issued by NATO, Yugoslav President Slobodan
Milosevic and US special envoy Richard Holbrooke agreed on 12 October 1998 on a partial
withdrawal of the Serbian military forces and deployment of an OSCE verification mission
of 2,000 unarmed personnel. Although the situation calmed down in view of the approaching
winter, a number of serious clashes between Yugoslav forces and Kosovo Liberation Army
(KLA) fighters were reported before the informal cease fire broke down around Christmas.
In view of the new escalatory spiral, on 6 February 1999 the Contact
Group pressured the conflicting parties into negotiations on the legal status of Kosovo.
In the Rambouillet meetings, the Contact Group presented a proposal for an interim
agreement based on its decisions of 29 January 1999, providing for a large degree of
self-government and an international implementation force. Whereas the Albanian delegation
could finally be convinced to approve the proposal, Belgrade continued to reject the
agreement for fear of foreign interference in its internal affairs.
On 24 March 1999, NATO started an air campaign against the FRY. The
campaign aimed to force the Serbian side to accept the Rambouillet agreement and, thus, to
prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe. NATO expected that it would take only a few
days to bring the Belgrade government to the fold. Instead, the military operation
continued for 11 weeks before the war came to an end. Serbian military and paramilitary
forces reacted with extreme violence against KLA fighters and the ethnic Albanian civilian
population. Altogether, more than 800,000 people were displaced and thousands killed.
After the G-8 states had agreed on the text for a UN Security Council
Resolution that was also acceptable to the FRY, on 9 June 1999 representatives of the
Yugoslav military and NATO concluded a military-technical agreement on the withdrawal of
Yugoslav troops from Kosovo. This ended the war. On the basis of Resolution 1244 of 10
June 1999 and the report of the Secretary General of 12 June (S/1999/672), the NATO-led
Kosovo Force (KFOR) established its presence in the war-torn province. The UN, in
cooperation with numerous international organizations, began to build up a civil
From the beginning, the United Nations Mission In Kosovo (UNMIK) was
confronted with a number of serious problems. Many lessons from the Bosnia peace operation
were neglected, such as a unified civil-military and integrated command structure. In
addition, KFOR was unable to prevent the expulsion of more than 250,000 non-Albanians,
mainly Serbs and Roma, by the KLA. UNMIK is suffering from a severe financial crisis
caused by Member State governments who, as often before, were willing to fund a war, but
not the necessary reconstruction and peace-building efforts. Last but not least, the
constitutional political status of Kosovo, which formally remains an integral part of the
FRY, is de facto still undefined. The Albanian political leadership and a major part of
Kosovos population continue to insist on independence. The historical dream of
creating a unified pan-Albanian state is still persistent.
3. The Kosovo Conflict: A Perspective From Inside top
The roots of the Kosovo conflict date to the beginning of the 20th
century. During this century-long period, two realities - an Albanian reality and a
Serbian reality - have been created, based more or less on different and
contradictory interpretations of history.
The dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and the abolition of the
autonomy of Kosovo in 1989 escalated the conflict to a new level: Kosovo became a de
facto Serbian colony where ethnic Albanians (representing 90 per cent of Kosovos
population) were ruled by the Serbs, who represented less than 10 per cent of the
provinces population. Albanians created parallel state institutions that, in
reality, had the objective of establishing local and sovereign authority. The Kosovo
Albanians hoped that the international community would support their cause and reward
their peaceful resistance to Serb oppression. Despite many warnings that the conflict in
Kosovo would escalate to an open armed conflict, the international community failed to
implement a workable conflict prevention strategy and instead focused much more on the
management and containment of the escalating conflict rather than on a sustainable
While the Dayton Agreement retroactively rewarded the armed struggle of
the Bosnian Muslims and Serbs (each getting their own territory and political structures),
the hopes of Kosovo Albanians receded into an indefinite future, thus triggering the
emergence of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The appearance of the KLA and the actions of
Serbian police and military forces caused the first human catastrophe in the summer of
1998. When, on 15 January 1999, 45 ethnic Albanians were massacred in Racak, the
international community decided that it was finally time to act.
A peace conference in Rambouillet, France, was organized for February,
and both the Albanian and the Yugoslav delegations agreed to participate. The Albanian
delegation insisted on a referendum on independence after an interim period, while the
Serbian delegation resisted the prospects of a NATO presence in the province and eventual
independence for Kosovo. After the Albanian delegation unilaterally signed the peace deal,
NATO decided to move forward with air strikes against Yugoslavia. Although without the
mandate of the Security Council, at least in the opinion of the Albanians NATO was
conducting a just war, a war that was the only credible response by the international
community to address the crisis in Kosovo. On the other hand, for Serbs the NATO strikes
were illegal and an act of aggression against their sovereign country. Whatever the truth,
it should be remembered that even if NATOs real aims were not of a humanitarian
nature, it was Milosevic who gave them a good excuse for such an action.
After almost three months of bombing, a military-technical agreement
between NATO and Yugoslavia was signed, and on 12 June 1999 KFOR, the international
security forces with NATO at its core, were deployed throughout Kosovo. After finding many
of their friends and relatives murdered and their houses burned, numerous returning ethnic
Albanian refugees began to take revenge on the remaining Serb population, prompting them
to flee Kosovo. While these acts of revenge on behalf of Albanians should not come as a
surprise, the reprisals against innocent Serbian and Roma civilians are in no way
justifiable. Moreover, they are very damaging to the reputation and the cause of the
The many remaining problems make present day Kosovo rather chaotic. The
province experiences constant armed incidents because of the possession of considerable
amounts of weaponry on both sides, the political landscape is fragmented, the number of
international and local police forces is insufficient, and much of the infrastructure has
been heavily destroyed. Towns like Prizren and Peja have been practically deserted by the
Serbs, and the towns of Mitrovica and Rahovec are divided along ethnic lines. Moreover, it
is clear that it will take a long time for Kosovo to rebuild its democratic institutions.
The current situation in Kosovo can only be an interim solution -
in the form of an open-ended protectorate. Due to the high level of animosity between the
ethnic Albanian and Serb communities, long-term solutions are simply unrealistic at this
point. Neither the Rambouillet Accords nor UN Security Council Resolution 1244 clarify the
future status of Kosovo. While offering some comfort in not having to deal with the hot
issue of the future territorial status immediately, this makes the task of the UNMIK more
difficult, further confuses both Serbs and Albanians, and leaves space for self-serving
misinterpretations and propaganda. Various options about the future status of Kosovo need
to be considered, although it is clear that the only lasting solution is a political
settlement that reconciles legitimate ethnic Albanian interests about the future of the
province and long-term peace with Serbia.
4. The Closing of the Kosovo Cycle: Victimization Versus Responsibility top
The origin of the ethnic rivalry in Kosovo is a contentious issue. The
lines of division do not only follow the Albanian-Serbian polarity; they are also apparent
within each community. For example, Serbs and Albanians both identify the same territory
as their "historic homeland." Radicals on both sides tend to locate the roots of
their enmity even before the Ottoman rule. As Ernest Renan so appropriately notes,
"getting its history wrong is part of being a nation."
In the Kosovo case, erroneous perceptions of history have served to
perpetuate hatred between the two communities and indeed triggered the spiral of conflict.
Kosovo, of course, is not Bosnia, where cordial inter-ethnic relations thrived for
centuries before the bonds were broken by brutal violence and ethnic cleansing.
Nonetheless, while co-existence in Kosovo was a reality long before it was transformed
into total confrontation, the forces behind the creation of historical perceptions were so
divergent that each side began to see itself as a victim of the other.
The conflict resulted from the deliberate and strategic policies of
Serbias ruling elites, which had the short-term goal of securing the continuation of
their own power and shoring up the existing power structure that had been showing signs of
decay since the mid-1980s. Nationalism served as the vehicle for achieving this goal and,
moreover, was used to justify political interests and tactics. It was a deliberate
strategy by the Serbian leadership to create the conflict, as the Kosovo issue was
essential to the successful emergence of populism in Serbia and the rule of Slobodan
Milosevic - a rule that has gone virtually unchallenged for more than ten years. The
role of Serbian intellectuals and the media in generating a security dilemma and hatred
between the two communities also deserves particular mention.
If the age-old divide between the two communities in Kosovo was widened
by the imposition of absolute Serbian rule in 1990, the atrocities committed by the
Serbian regime during the NATO campaign appear to have broken all bonds beyond repair. The
Serbian regime has emerged bloodied but unbowed. The military defeat was not total,
allowing Milosevic to use his uncanny skill at turning defeat into personal victory. He
could, moreover, now boast that his tiny nation had stood up against the worlds most
powerful military alliance. He also had new examples to demonstrate the victimization of
Serbs. The ethnic Albanians, too, have gained additional exemplification of their status
as victims, as that same powerful military alliance came to their rescue on moral and
The process of self-victimization was developed and consolidated by
nationalist myth-making and propaganda. Because of the traditional lack of contact between
the two communities, this propaganda was very effective, playing, as it did, on the
misconceptions of both Serb and Albanian publics. The different languages and cultures of
the two peoples certainly played an important role in the fact that ethnic Albanians and
Serbs shared little, other than the territory they occupied. If this was true in the early
days of their cohabitation, little was done to improve mutual understanding. Each side
insisted on a perception of history as an oscillating domination by one or the other side,
and each claimed exclusive rights and sovereignty over the same piece of land. When these
interests came into conflict, the Kosovo knot began to tighten to the point where the only
possible solution seemed to be to cut through it; the time had passed when it could be
unraveled. This is not to say, however, that the conflict resulted from the clash of two
nationalisms: this would obscure the differences in their activities.
For almost a decade, the Serbian nationalist movement held power over
the territory and, more importantly, showed its readiness to inflict death and human
suffering in demonstrating that power. The Serbian national consciousness still has
problems in linking cause to effect in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. It will therefore
not be surprising if some time is needed before it is reconciled to the fact that Serbian
sovereignty over Kosovo no longer exists. It can be reclaimed only by the use of force,
but - given the current economic and military power of Serbia on the one hand and the
strength of the KFOR ground troops in the province on the other - this scenario is
the least likely.
Thus, the grassroots democracy which has again begun to emerge
throughout Serbia since the latest military adventures of the Milosevic regime ended in
defeat needs to adopt a more responsible perception of Serbia's history and national
identity if the cycle of self-victimization is ever to be broken. For this to happen,
Serbs must start building truly democratic institutions which are prepared to examine not
only the effects of Milosevics rule, but also the reason for his continued political
success. Only then will Serbia create the conditions for its return to the society of
states and re-establish friendly relations with its neighbors, Kosovo included.
5. The Kosovo Conflict: The Balkans and the Southern Caucasus top
George Khutsishvili and Albrecht Schnabel
The conflicts between Serbia and Kosovo, and between NATO and the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, have caused mixed reactions among countries and peoples
throughout Southeastern Europe. While the Balkan countries were directly affected by the
conflict, the Southern Caucasian countries of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan seem at
first to be too removed from the Balkans to be affected by the conflict in Kosovo.
However, they do consider themselves part of Europe, part of the greater Southeast
European subregion and future members of Europes regional organizations and greater
Throughout the region, reactions have ranged from strong support for
either NATO or Serb actions to equally strong opposition. The reasons for such varied
responses can be found in every countrys and societys ethnic, religious or
political proximity to the conflicting parties and, in particular, in these
countries aspirations to join NATO and/or other Western political and economic
While Orthodox states close to Yugoslavia were less enthusiastic about
NATOs reaction, those close to the Kosovo Albanians were supportive. However, Muslim
communities with close affinity to the Kosovo Albanians (such as Turkey and Azerbaijan),
but with separatist minority struggles of their own, had a different issue to worry about:
Would support of NATO action not undermine their own efforts to keep separatist minority
groups at bay?
While there was disagreement over the means and ends of NATO action,
the Alliance was generally supported, as most states are desperately seeking NATO
membership. The EU, OSCE and the UN were perceived to be subordinate regional and
international organizations vis-ŕ-vis NATO. NATOs actions have been a mixed
blessing to the region as a whole. The Balkans has been further destabilized by refugee
movements, a devastated and unstable Kosovo with strong international security presence,
and a politically and economically much weakened Yugoslavia (whose GDP has slipped below
that of Albania).
In the Southern Caucasus, various minority separatist groups, most
prominently in Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia, have been encouraged by the international
(NATO) communitys apparent willingness to support the cause of independence against
a perceived oppressive regime (although Karabakh and Armenia were careful not to
contradict Russias position too loudly). For the titular nations in the Southern
Caucasus, this has not been without problems: Loyalty to NATO (either as an existing or
aspiring member) clearly conflicts with the Alliances perceived new role as the
protector of separatist minorities rights and interests. Once politicians and the
public realized that NATO was in fact assisting a separatist movement, enthusiasm for NATO
actions subsided. However, that was never expressed in open complaints or disagreements
over NATO actions, but rather in more subdued calls than usual for NATOs physical
and political presence in the region.
However, NATOs war in and over Kosovo and the subsequently
increased international presence in the region have brought much needed attention to the
Southeast European region. The international community was reminded that the Dayton
Agreement, which had ended the wars in Bosnia, has not put a lid on instability, ethnic
competition, conflicting territorial claims, underdevelopment and poverty in the region.
Moreover, it has also reminded us of the important roles that need to be played in the
region by non-military organizations - in particular, the European Union, the OSCE
and the United Nations. The EUs subsequent attempt to reinvigorate its plans for a
Southeast European Stability Pact, symbolized with a summit in Sarajevo, are indications
of this possible attempt to re-commit the European Union to the region.
There are other positive developments for the region that have come out
of the NATO war in Yugoslavia. The anti-Serb stance of the international community has
reinforced the message that the West does not necessarily limit itself to the protection
and defense of non-Muslim communities. The FRY has been weakened to a point where it is no
longer a major player in the region; Bosnian integration may benefit from that.
Particularly, the aftermath of the war and Kosovo Albanian atrocities against Serbs have
shown that there are no "good guys" and "bad guys" in the Balkans;
both Serbs and Albanians can be victims or perpetrators.
The war and the unstable aftermath of NATOs actions in Kosovo
have shown (again) that the Balkans is more often than not at the mercy of great power
interests. It is time that Southeast European countries address their problems as a
community, as a region, and deal with conflicts and state misbehaviour and failure (as in
the case of Serbia) by themselves, particularly if they want to avoid great power
intervention. The region has to be careful in engaging NATO or other military and
non-military organizations in the region. Once response mechanisms/dynamics/expectations
are triggered in these organizations, external involvement may take on its own dynamic
- one that may easily turn out to be counterproductive for the peace and security
needs of the region.
What may have been useful for the Kosovo Albanians may not at all apply
in the Southern Caucasian context. It remains to be seen if any of the renewed attention
directed at the Balkans will be extended to address the latent and protracted conflicts in
the Southern Caucasus (and the Caucasus as a whole), or if that region will continue its
existence at the margins of interest by the European and international communities.
A number of policy recommendations arise from this discussion: Under a
new government, Serbia should be encouraged to rejoin the Southeast European and European
communities of states and regional and subregional organizations. An alienated Serbia
should be avoided. The demonization of the Serbs also should be avoided. However, the
current Serb leadership should be discredited and internationally sanctioned. Only a new
leadership committed to democracy, cultural tolerance, and regional integration and power
sharing should be supported by the outside world.
The new momentum for peace, security and stability in the Balkans
should embrace as well the Southern Caucasus. The Southern Caucasus must be included in a
Southeast European Stability Pact. Community building between Christian and Muslim
communities should be a high priority (and could set standards worldwide). Regional
integration, confidence building, early warning and conflict prevention, and development
should be main foreign policy goals throughout Southeastern Europe, both within the
Balkans and the Southern Caucasus, and between those two regions.
PART TWO - THE MAJOR PLAYERS top
6. The Costs of Victory: American Power and the Use of Force in the
Contemporary Order top
G. John Ikenberry
The end of the Cold War did not provide the sort of historical break
- as occurred in 1815, 1919, and 1945 - to gather world leaders together to
discuss first principles and new institutions. The current system is a patchwork, and it
is clearly at risk. On the specific issue of humanitarian intervention, the two extreme
alternatives - either American unilateral intervention or a UN Security
Council-sanctioned intervention - seem increasingly difficult to sustain on a
consistent basis. The alternative is either a series of regionally-based security forces
that have the local legitimacy and capacity to act in various contingencies, or some sort
of ad hoc coalition of the willing. Kosovo makes it clear that the world community
needs to find a way to raise basic questions and find ways to reorganize the mix of
international norms, international institutions, great power interests and American power.
Three trends of the post-Cold War international order are most
important. The first is the rise of humanitarian and human rights standards. These are
norms of democracy and human rights that the United States and other states have invoked
in seeking to legitimate the current liberal world order.
The second is the transformation of NATO. The NATO governments have
articulated a new identity for the alliance after the Cold War: it is to be a grouping of
like-minded democratic states with an interest in the wider stability of the region. This
ties NATO power and purpose to states on the periphery of Europe and to actions and
contingencies unrelated to the territorial defense of member states. This shift in NATO
probably helped facilitate the end of the Cold War and allowed its members to preserve the
alliance, but it also unsettles the wider Eurasian neighborhood.
Finally, the international distribution of power has become radically
unipolar. The United States has become the only serious world military power. This
unprecedented asymmetry in power as a mere fact of international life is increasingly
quite provocative. The war in Kosovo did more than anything else in recent years to
underscore this new reality, revealing even Europes inferiority in military
capacity. If history is a guide, other states have reason to fear concentrated and
unrestrained power. It invites resentment and ultimately a balance-of-power reaction.
Two dilemmas emerge from these trends. First, American constructive
participation is indispensable to the international communitys search for solutions
to problems of security, justice, economic growth and political governance, but it is
profoundly worrisome to try to cooperate with a large and potentially unpredictable
superpower that is itself uncertain of how much global leadership it wants to provide.
Second, the absence of new institutional agreements after the Cold War
to guide the international community in upholding standards of human rights and
humanitarian justice has meant that informal governance mechanisms have been followed.
Most of these involve working with and through American power and diplomacy; world order
and Pax Americana are roughly the same thing today. But American hegemony -
regardless of how open, benign and enlightened it might be - is a poor substitute for
a more inclusive, institutionalized, and agreed-upon international order.
The post-Cold War international order is a mix of contradictory shifts
and unsettled roles and expectations. American power is both a useful tool and a
provocative obstacle to the stable and legitimate functioning of the system. It sits on
top of a fragile foundation. American power is vital if the international community is to
act - whether in Europe through NATO or elsewhere in the world through the UN
While the rest of the world worries about the potential aggressiveness
and unilateralism of American power, the American people are more inclined to question
whether that power should be used at all. The result is a situation in which a political
chain runs from a humanitarian disaster in a remote part of the world through Washington,
D.C., and out to a farm in Iowa, where the American president is forced to go and make the
case that it is worth American casualties to uphold abstract principles and world weary
7. Russia: Reassessing National Interests top
The developments of the Kosovo conflict have distinctly influenced
Russias perception of its relations with the outside world in a more fundamental way
than most other events during the last decade. The ongoing re-assessment of Russias
national interests in light of the Kosovo crisis may have a considerable impact on
Russias evolving foreign and security policy.
The concrete regional aspects of Russias interests associated
with the Kosovo crisis have a relatively low profile. The "ethno-religious
solidarity" with the Serbs had a certain emotional impact on Russias political
scene, but this factor does not play a crucial role and is deliberately downplayed by the
official authorities. More significant are the moral grounds of Russias sympathy
towards Yugoslavia, which is regarded as the victim of aggression and pressure from
powerful nations. The issue of establishing a "union" with Yugoslavia, although
widely debated in the country, has little prospect of being translated into practical
policy. However, Russia considers that its political presence in the region is an
important goal and has realistic chances to be achieved.
Russia is deeply concerned with a possibility that "the Kosovo
pattern" might be applied to Russia itself or to its immediate environment. This
alarmism reflects the widely spread uncertainty with respect to the territorial integrity
of the country, with Chechnya being of special relevance to Russias perceptions of
the developments in and around Kosovo. An eventual external involvement into the conflict
zones in Russias post-Soviet environment is another matter of concern.
The developments around Kosovo, as viewed by Russia, point to the
evolution of a "NATO-centred" Europe. The "Kosovo phenomenon"
has contributed to the consolidation of Russias anti-NATO stand more than the
three-year long campaign against the enlargement of NATO. Any possible arguments that NATO
might become a stability-provider for Europe have lost validity for Russia. It seems in
the interest of Russia to reduce considerably its relations with NATO, without however
breaking them irreversibly. At the same time, Russia hopes that the Kosovo crisis will
promote the self-identification among Europeans, their alienation from the USA and their
interest towards "extra-NATO" patterns (such as the OSCE).
The global implications of the developments around Kosovo represent the
most serious concern for Russia. Russia feels that the international law and UN-based
international order is collapsing, while its substitute might relegate Russia to the
sidelines of global developments. Preventing this collapse becomes Russias major
interest in the international arena. Also, Russia may become tempted to look for partners
outside the "Euro-Atlantic" zone (and eventually among the anti-Western
regimes). A serious reassessment of the use of force (becoming "less
unjustifiable") and increased attention to military preparations may also follow the
There were considerable domestic aspects in Russias assessment
of, and reaction to, the crisis of Kosovo. The military operation of NATO in Yugoslavia is
broadly perceived as discrediting democratic values (to the extent that they are
associated with Western countries). Furthermore, the developments in and around Kosovo
have provoked a real identity crisis among domestic pro-Western groups, while society at
large is becoming increasingly sceptical about arguments in favour of cooperative
relations with the West. At the same time, the consolidating effect of the Kosovo crisis
on the Russian domestic scene should not be exaggerated; the prospect of building an
anti-Western coalition based on the broad condemnation of NATOs actions, and
advocated by national-patriotic forces, does not seem realistic.
All these factors have shaped the practical policy of Russia's
government, which seems to follow three basic guidelines: First, to articulate a strong
negative attitude towards NATO's policy with respect to Kosovo and to manifest Russia's
readiness to oppose its consequences; in particular, Russia has announced its intention to
reconsider a number of key elements in its military security policy. Second, to prevent a
dramatic collapse of relations with the West, in particular by avoiding direct
confrontation (which could be caused, for instance, by military assistance to Belgrade).
Third, to capitalize on the role of mediator, on promoting peaceful solutions to the
crisis and on making Russia's involvement indispensable to all involved parties. Indeed,
the Kosovo crisis has unexpectedly added weight to Russia's international role.
Comments in Russia about the performance of NATO-led conflict
settlement in Kosovo are becoming increasingly sceptical. In particular, they point to a
failure to provide effective security protection for the Serb minority in Kosovo. There is
a growing belief that this greatly undermines NATOs claim that the intervention had
been motivated by human rights considerations. Russias other grievances are focused
on inadequate implementation of various provisions of UN Security Council resolution 1244.
This would endanger Russias efforts to re-channel the settlement to the UN.
8. China: Whither World Order After Kosovo? top
The NATO bombing campaign in Serbia, and especially the bombing of the
Chinese embassy in Belgrade, shocked the Chinese. It was the first time that a regional
organization attacked a sovereign state without the authorization of the United Nations,
making - among many others - an embassy a military target. If this so-called
collective intervention in a sovereign state becomes legitimate, it provides a carte
blanche to powerful countries to use force, or threaten to use force, to make other
countries change their domestic policies, governments or political systems. China worries
that what happened in Yugoslavia yesterday may occur in Asia, especially in China,
NATOs action against Yugoslavia raises many questions, including
the legitimacy of waging war on a sovereign state, the core principles of international
relations and the credibility of the United Nations. Peace for the new century will rest
on maintaining international rules and laws passed by the UN members, while respecting
state sovereignty and equality. The danger of a "new interventionism" based on
power may lead to more violence and a new arms race, and thus an even more unstable and
The end of the Cold War left the US as the only world superpower. The
danger of this unipolar world order is that it enables the US to impose its will on other
countries. In launching air strikes on Yugoslavia, US-led NATO acted without the authority
of the UN, setting a dangerous precedent in interfering in the internal affairs of a
sovereign state. The problem of this "preemption" of using force by a strong
power (or powers) against a weak one (or ones) based on its (their) own "values"
will only create disorder. China supports a multipolar world order. China does not want to
challenge or compete with US superiority, but rejects a US domination or hegemony.
NATOs action in Kosovo is supported by a doctrine of "new
interventionism," which is based on a seemingly "new justice." However, who
judges on "the cost of violence," who conducts the intervention - and in
what kind of way? With a military intervention in a sovereign state, US-led NATO attempted
to rewrite international law based on its own rules. This enforced order does not ensure
the peace in the region.
It is clear that China, as a rising power, worries about US domination
or hegemony As a socialist country, furthermore, it is anxious about possibly imposed
Western values backed by "collective intervention." However, what worries China
most is the situation in the Asia-Pacific region. China is mostly worried about a US-led
coalition in Asia against China. The US-led NATO action in the Balkans re-alarmed China
that there is a real danger for its security. China suspects an American regional
strategy. In addition to its military presence and a strengthened US-Japan alliance, the
US has increasingly expanded or strengthened its bilateral military ties with many
countries surrounding China.
Of course, this does not mean that China will take an overall hostile
or confrontational policy to the US and its allies. China needs a long-term peaceful
environment to develop itself. It remembers well the lesson of the collapse of the former
Soviet Union, which could not compete with the military superiority of the US. But China
believes that it can play a positive role in checking American hegemony and in moving
towards a fair international order.
China has proposed a "new security concept" based on the
above principles. In the Asia-Pacific security cooperation, China supports a positive role
of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Security cooperation with Russia and Central Asian
countries also reflects Chinas efforts to offer a different model from that of the
Western allies. However, it seems that the US and Japan do not trust such a "soft
As for the role of the UN, it has expanded and strengthened since the
end of the Cold War in peacekeeping and intervention in internal conflicts. But its
credibility was questioned when NATO launched the air strike on Yugoslavia. China made
great efforts to hand the issue back to the UN. China does not reject all kinds of
intervention. However, China insists that an intervention must be based on rules and
authorized by the UN Security Council. Any new rule-making must be done by the
international community with fair participation (or support) of all community members, not
just a few countries. The "new interventionism doctrine" cannot be permitted to
condition evolving principles of international relations.
The Kosovo crisis reflects a new danger threatening world stability and
security. The fundamental reason why China so strongly opposed NATOs bombing is to
insist on the principles for a fair and stable world order.
9. The Major European Allies: France, Germany and the United Kingdom top
Simon Duke, Hans-Georg Ehrhart and Matthias Karádi
The basic issue raised in this and other chapters concerns the recourse
to military means as a way of addressing political, economic and social problems, and the
effects on regional and international security and stability.
For the three major European allies, the Kosovo crisis raised more
questions than answers. Hans-Georg Ehrhart observes that there was initial French
disappointment with the failure of its various conflict prevention efforts, chiefly
revolving around diplomatic intercession. Matthias Karádis section on Germany
points to the remarkable indeed, historic role it played during and after
the crisis. Simon Duke, discussing the United Kingdom, observes that the vigorous
leadership role played by the Blair government had the more general aim of securing
Britains leadership role in Europe on questions of security and defence.
The internal political significance of their respective roles lies in
the groundswell of support for (a still ill-defined) autonomous European crisis management
capability. As such, the relevance of Kosovo may lie primarily in its role as a catalyst
towards the design and implementation of a Common European Security and Defence Policy
(ESDP). The military significance of their roles in Operation Allied Force was
overshadowed by the U.S. role which, in turn, had the twofold effect of masking many of
the differences between the European allies and putting into stark relief the practical
manifestations of what it will mean to implement ESDP.
The policy-relevant lessons and suggestions that arise from the study
may be split into two sets: those that arise for regional security and those that pertain
to more general issues of international security.
- The need for a seamless web: The three cases highlighted reflect a more general problem
that exists at the regional level. In this case the difficulty of linking the EUs
efforts at preventive diplomacy with economic leverage (targeted sanctions) and the threat
or actual use of military force (through the WEU or NATO) was apparent. In short, the
inability of the three main European powers to link these aspects into a credible conflict
prevention/management strategy was a major shortcoming that, arguably, has spurred on
efforts to create a genuine ESDI and, in the EU context, ESDP;
- Conflict Prevention: The "Kosovo effect" has seen an increasing emphasis being
placed upon crisis prevention by senior EU officials. Crisis prevention, however, is not
officially a Petersburg task, although it could be argued that it is implicitly included
in the Treaty on European Union. Explicit mention of it in the treatys revision and
further plans for how it might be implemented in practice are necessary;
- Implementing Europes desire for autonomous capacities: A number of significant
developments during and after NATOs military operations in Kosovo sharpened general
awareness of the urgent need for regional crisis response capacities. France, Germany and
the United Kingdom led the call for a Common European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
It is with regard to the response to that call and how to implement ESDP that opinions
diverge amongst the European allies as well as with Washington;
- Future relations with the U.S.: In spite of the contributions made by France, Germany
and the United Kingdom, all pale in comparison to those of the United States. The stakes
in Kosovo would have been very high for the Europeans in case of autonomous intervention
in terms of the individual contributions that would have been required - this would
have meant an additional 1,000-plus aircraft and 5,000 to 6,000 additional military
personnel. Two questions arise from this observation: First, political rhetoric aside, are
the European allies willing to make such an investment? And second, what happens if the
U.S. chooses not be involved the next time?
General international issues
- Intra-regional congestion: The overarching U.S. role was matched in institutional terms
by that of NATO. The role of the Alliance raises the important issue of what relations
will emerge between the EU-WEU (and the ESDP) and NATO, as well as with the OSCE and the
Council of Europe. The risk of institutional turf battles must be avoided.
- Relations between the UN and regional security bodies: The Kosovo crisis and indeed the
crises in Europe of the last five years in Europe, Africa and Asia have illustrated the
profound limitations of the regulatory system built up around the UN and a number of
regional organizations (OAS, OAU, OSCE, NATO, etc.). The general paucity of any means of
intervention other than those made available to the various organizations by Member
States, and the frequent absence of appropriate command and control structures, has meant
that more often than not such crises are addressed by means of unilateral action (or
"coalitions of the willing," as they are commonly referred to). The power
structures in the region eventually showed a concerted response in Kosovo, a barely
perceptible one in Africa, a hesitant one in Asia (Indonesia and East Timor) and a muddled
response to Chechnya;
- Watering-down of principles of international law: Legal principles were used in Kosovo
(and elsewhere) to suit the circumstances and were used as "political weapons."
This can only weaken their effectiveness and will make any subsequent appeal to them,
especially by Western countries, suspect;
- Knock-on effects for crisis management: The "Kosovo effect" is already being
felt in the Russian Federation in connection with Chechnya. No UN agency has been
authorized to move into the area resulting, once again, to underline the peripheral role
that the UN is increasingly playing in international disputes. On the one hand, the UN is
faced with chronic resource problems where there is a demand for UN assistance and, on the
other, being sidelined when a regional power chooses to unilaterally or bilaterally apply
pressure or force;
PART THREE - VIEWS FROM NATO ALLIES top
- Territorial Integrity: France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with the other NATO
allies, showed a worrying lack of a long-term plan for implementing a settlement in
Kosovo. The application of a double-standard for ethnic Albanians ("all
victims") and Serbs ("all perpetrators") has made it almost impossible to
implement Resolution 1244, whose aim was to respect the territorial integrity of the FRY
(with Kosovo as a constituent element). Since the principle of territorial integrity is at
the centre of the international system, political solutions may be extremely hard to
arrive at, and the interim might demand a sustained military presence with ad hoc
10. The Nordic Countries: Whither the Wests Critical Conscience? top
The Nordic countries have a number of features in common, such as a
fairly high standard of living, a "welfare state" form of capitalism, and stable
democracy. All of them score high on a scale of "internationalism," in the sense
that they pay their dues to the United Nations, contribute significantly to UN
peacekeeping and similar operations, and allocate a high percentage of their wealth to
development aid. On all these counts they score much higher than, for instance, the United
States, which leads only in terms of military expenditures.
This shared orientation notwithstanding, the five Nordic countries
differed throughout the Cold War in terms of alignment. Denmark, Norway and Iceland have
been members of NATO since its foundation, whereas Sweden and Finland have been neutral
and/or non-aligned. The end of the Cold War has both caused and coincided with rather
profound changes in this pattern:
- While there are no immediate prospects of Sweden or Finland joining NATO, both are
cooperating quite closely with it under the auspices of the Partnership for Peace Program
as well as in other contexts;
- Both have joined the European Union, and even done so without the reluctance and
reservations of the old member, Denmark. Both are thus closer to the Western European
Union (without actually being members) than is Denmark;
- While remaining outside the EU, even Norway has closer ties to the WEU than has Denmark;
Paradoxically, the declining need for US security guarantees after the
collapse of the Soviet Union has been accompanied by growing support for US policies by
Denmark and Norway, even when this has entailed breaches of international law. The turning
point became the February 1998 Iraqi crisis, where both countries pledged support for an
attack against Iraq that was not authorized by any UN mandate. Having thus lost their
"virginity" in thought, if not in deed, the step to real action in the case of
the FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) seemed less significant. The relatively unified
position of the Nordic countries in the United Nations was thereby shattered. This
disagreement notwithstanding, Nordic cooperation has continued, both in terms of joint
statements and in terms of military cooperation, e.g., in SFOR (Stabilization Force) in
- Denmark has abandoned its political dissent and become a totally "loyal"
member of NATO, thereby resembling Norway.
During the entire period of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, all
three Nordic NATO members were unanimous in their support of NATO policy. Until 1998,
however, they were able to do so without abandoning their traditional adherence to UN
rules. Perhaps as a consequence thereof, the nineties saw an almost unprecedented domestic
consensus on these policies, as well as on security politics in general. The
"centre" simply grew to encompass almost the entire political spectrum, leaving
only the rather insignificant right and left wings in dissenting positions. As far as
Yugoslavia was concerned, it also helped that the problems calling for action were
immediately appealing to Denmark, with its long-standing emphasis on human rights
When the focus of attention during 1998 shifted from Bosnia to Kosovo,
Denmark adopted a "follow the leader" position, and showed no hesitation when it
came to issuing threats against the FRY. On 8 October 1998 a decision was passed by
Parliament to contribute to "a NATO deployment in the western Balkans" with four
F-16 aircraft plus reserves and 115 personnel. As a consequence of this decision, the
aircraft were dispatched to Italy and the authority to use them was transferred to the
NATO command chain - as yet another contribution to the NATOs "diplomacy
After this decision had been taken, the entire matter was almost
completely de-politicized. No real political decision was thus ever taken to launch the
attack, even though this constituted a complete departure from long-standing policies. The
Danish military contribution to NATOs war mainly consisted of four F-16 aircraft
plus one reserve, to which were added, from April onwards, an additional four aircraft,
and 150 troops for AFOR (Albania Force) from April.
Throughout the war, most of Denmarks military contribution was
for support functions rather than actual combat. However, on 26 May 1999 Danish pilots
dropped their first-ever bombs on a sovereign state. Even though the bombing campaign was
so obviously not achieving its aims, there was little parliamentary debate on the
alternatives, such as the use of ground troops. Perhaps surprisingly, 70 per cent of the
otherwise peaceful Danish population supported the war - even to the point of
favoring the use of ground forces.
Throughout the war there was massive sympathy with the victims, which
was also reflected in the substantial humanitarian aid granted, both through government
and NGO channels. In addition to the security political debate, there was a heated debate
on whether or not to accept Kosovar refugees (and perhaps Serbian deserters) and, if so,
how many and under what conditions. On this issue the former "centre versus the
extremes" division of opinion was transformed into a rather traditional left-right
spectrum. The further to the left, the greater the willingness to welcome refugees, while
the reluctance to accept refugees grew towards the right (xenophobic) end of the spectrum.
The end result became that Denmark accepted a small number of 1,500 temporary refugees
(later increased to 3,000), most of whom never actually arrived.
After the war, Denmark has pledged to commit around 850 troops for
KFOR, to be deployed in the northwestern part of Kosovo under French command, mostly drawn
from the Danish contribution to SFOR in Bosnia.
Norways attitude and behaviour throughout the crisis and war have
closely resembled those of Denmark. In January 1999, six F-16 aircraft were dispatched to
Italy. During the war, the following contributions were envisaged:
For obvious reasons, Icelands contribution to the NATO war has
been mainly rhetorical, as the country possesses no armed forces that it might have
contributed. It did, however, politically support its NATO allies.
- 81 personnel for the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre, located in Macedonia;
- a contribution the Extraction force;
- six F-16 aircraft, with a total of 180 personnel; and
- a C-130 transport airport allocated to the evacuation of refugees.
Throughout the crises, the two (no longer quite so) neutral Nordic
states were actively involved, albeit not in the same way as the NATO members (if
only because they were never asked to participate in the war against the FRY).
Finlands reaction to NATOs attack was muted, but supportive. However, while
there had previously been a certain interest in exploring the option of joining NATO,
support for the Western Alliance in the public declined significantly to a fourth or even
a fifth of the population during the war. Some of the opposition parties, including the
Centre Party, also expressed reservations against particular features of the war.
During the war, Finland contributed:
Sweden was significantly less supportive of the NATO war than Finland.
This was not so much because of a different assessment of the situation in Kosovo, or of
the desirability of a solution along the lines of the Rambouillet draft, as it was due to
concerns for international law.
- humanitarian aid, as well temporary refuge, for a small number of refugees;
- President Ahtisaaris work as EU envoy to work out the peace agreement with
President Milosevic; and
- the promise to contribute troops for (what became) KFOR, after a UN mandate had been
After the war, Sweden has sent a mechanized battalion (around 800
troops) to KFOR - but reduced its presence in SFOR correspondingly - in addition
to a promise to send 50 policemen to assist in the establishment of a local police force,
and 40 observers to the OSCE mission. As a reflection of the (at most) lukewarm support
for NATOs handling of the Kosovo crisis, Sweden has subsequently proposed the
establishment of an independent commission under the auspices of the UN to investigate
what happened before, during and after the war.
11. The Southern Flank: Italy, Greece, Turkey top
Unlike countries situated away from a crisis area, which can afford a
highly moral and principled stance (at least in terms of proclamations), neighboring
countries are obliged to formulate their positions by considering more mundane factors,
such as potential refugee flows; historical, ethnic, religious and other ties to the
conflicting parties; similar situations that might affect them; or, the stability of the
region. The end result is that the latter countries may adopt more balanced approaches,
which may well entail many elements in common, despite often different starting points and
diverse broader interests and considerations.
The existence of a sole superpower in the world today and the perceived
necessity to maintain good relations with it plays a significant role in shaping the
official outward attitudes of countries and in mitigating public reactions within them.
This is the case despite often fundamental reservations - if not regarding the goals
of an action, then at least regarding the tactics adopted by "the international
community" vis-ŕ-vis a certain conflict.
Unlike what one might have expected, the Italy, Greece and Turkey
behaved in an overall restrained and responsible way, not trying to take undue advantage
of developments in the region. Having said that, each country certainly attempted to place
itself in a favourable position vis-ŕ-vis the post-conflict political and economic
Smaller countries feel the need to support multilateral institutions of
broad membership and collective decision-making, where they are given a say vis-ŕ-vis
issues that could otherwise be decided upon by an elite group of powerful actors or even
by the hegemon alone without broader consultations. In that sense, all three countries, to
a lesser or greater extent, proposed peaceful ways out of the crisis and welcomed the
eventual return of the Kosovo issue to the legitimate United Nations framework through
Security Council resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999.
Turkeys firm attachment to the United States and NATO was
vindicated by the predominant role of the two and the simultaneous affirmation of the
continuing weakness of the European Union. Turkey will continue to sell itself as a loyal
member and regional headman for the superpower and NATO, expecting to benefit in terms of
political concessions from neighbouring countries (including Greece), securing its
internal front (including both the Kurdish and Islamic questions) from outside
interference and reaping economic and political benefits from the exploitation of Caspian
oil reserves and its overall strategic location.
Greece tries to keep a middle ground, externally but also domestically,
between a U.S.-centred new international order and a more traditional one based on
long-established principles. It needs the support of NATO and the superpower in its
relations with Turkey, particularly in the context of the disputes over the Aegean and the
Cyprus problem. It realizes that a settlement not based on international law may lead to
the closure of these questions to its disadvantage. At the same time Greece tries to
balance the transAtlantic and the European orientation by favouring a more assertive
European common foreign and security policy with itself as the regional hub for
Southeastern Europe. At least one immediate benefit that seems to have accrued to Greece
from the Kosovo crisis is the designation of Thessaloniki as the seat of the EU Balkan
Reconstruction Organization, although with strong operational offices in Pristina and
It was important to Italy to assert itself as a major power, second to
the superpower but more or less on an equal basis with the other European heavyweights. It
will continue its efforts to play a protagonistic role in both major forums, the EU and
NATO, as well as in the United Nations. The appointment of ex-Prime Minister Prodi to
serve as President of the new European Commission is expected to give Italy a higher
profile on the European stage. Moreover, the country will continue to pursue its own
regional policies, through Albania but also through a political and economic presence in
other countries of Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean.
12. Kosovo and the Case of the (Not So) Free Riders:
Belgium, Canada, Portugal and Spain top
David Haglund and Allen Sens
The war over Kosovo was, in general, an unproblematic conflict for this
set of small powers (Belgium, Canada, Portugal and Spain) because its status as a
"humanitarian" war made it easy to justify to political leaders (if not always
to their publics) while the inability of NATO to have avoided involvement made the war
seem strategically necessary. Not surprisingly, little overt appeal was made by the
smaller allies to that strategic rationale for the war, nor was it essential for it to
have been made, such was the resonance of the humanitarian claim. Nevertheless, the
strategic pull was real, for all the allies understood the necessity of preserving
alliance solidarity and credibility, while for the three European allies the war became a
test case for greater European defence cooperation. For these four allies, with varying
degrees of qualification, Kosovo was even a "good" war - one of the few
such they are likely to know.
Belgium: Belgiums declared support for NATO action
rested on two foundations: the proximity of the crisis and attendant fears that it could
spread, and the humanitarian disaster that was beginning to unfold in an eerie replay of
the Bosnian war several years earlier. Equally important was the felt need to show
solidarity with the major European allies, for purposes related to the furthering of
integration in Europe. Publicly, however, the Belgian government rationalized its
involvement in NATO action against Serbia largely on humanitarian grounds. In parliament,
the Socialists, Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, and Liberals were broadly
supportive of NATO actions. This broad consensus was mirrored in Belgian public opinion,
with the majority of Belgians supporting the air campaign against Serbia. Twelve Belgian
F-16 fighters were engaged in the air campaign against Serbia, although not in strategic
bombing. Belgium also committed 1,100 personnel to KFOR for a period of one year.
Canada: As did the other allies, small or otherwise,
Canada saw the war very much as a humanitarian conflict. And like the other allies, it
also had some strategic (if unstated) interests at stake, associated with the need to
preserve the credibility of the alliance. As in other alliance capitals, in Ottawa policy
makers and opinion shapers stressed the humanitarian aspects of the war. Indeed, Canada
and its foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, figured among the vanguard of the
"humanitarian hawks," and for some weeks during the wars initial phase,
Canada was out front of the United States and alongside of Britain in suggesting that a
ground offensive might yet be necessary.
Canada played a role in the air war, commensurate with that of France
and Britain and quite unlike that of the other "smaller" allies. It could do
this because it had what most of the other (non-U.S.) allied air forces lacked:
precision-guided missiles (PGMs) capable of being unleashed from the 18 CF-18
fighter-bombers deployed in theatre. NATO flew more than 27,000 sorties (strikes and
otherwise) during Operation Allied Force; of that total, Canadian aircraft accounted for
678 (in what Canada termed Operation Echo). Although the number of aircraft Canada
contributed was roughly comparable to that supplied by several other allies, operationally
Canada was much more important than most, with the obvious exception of the U.S. Air Force
(USAF). The latter supplied 715 of Operation Allied Forces 912 aircraft, and flew
the lions share of the sorties. But Canadas pilots, because they had the PGMs
and also because of their high level of training and their high interoperability with the
USAF, flew nearly 10 per cent of all strike sorties during Operation Allied Force. As
well, the overwhelming number of strike "packages" sent over Serbian skies were
led either by Americans or Canadians.
Portugal: Portugal's response to the Kosovo crisis was
similar to the "communautaire" approach adopted by Belgium. Although not
directly threatened by the violence within Serbia, the countrys leaders evinced
concerns that the conflict could spread. As in the other countries surveyed, no appeal was
made to overt strategic rationales for action; rather, obligations to the alliance and
Europe, as well as the humanitarian imperative, were cited in justification of NATO
action. Public opinion was less supportive of the war than in Belgium and Canada (although
more so than in Spain). The lack of a UN mandate was a matter of considerable debate in
Portugal, with the government insisting that Kosovo was not to be seen as precedent
Portugals initial contribution to the NATO air campaign was three
F-16 aircraft. Portugals contribution to Joint Guardian is a battalion of some 300
personnel. In light of the crisis response nature of NATO military requirements, Portugal
had begun to restructure its military in 1998 with the development of a capacity to
contribute to NATOs rapid reaction forces was deemed a "first priority."
Nevertheless, the size and capacities of the Portuguese military will ensure that
Portuguese pursuit of "communautaire" strategies in NATO will be limited to
political and diplomatic support of alliance initiatives, backed by a token contribution
of military assets to coalition efforts.
Spain: Kosovo affected Spain as it did the other
"smaller" allies. Madrid saw in the crisis a humanitarian challenge that simply
had to be addressed - all the more so if the vision of a more coherent "Europe
of defence" was ever to become a reality. But Spaniards proved more reluctant than
their leaders to back the air war. In fact, Spain was among the allies in which public
opinion waxed least enthusiastic about bombing the Serbs. Partly this has to do with the
countrys recent (and lugubrious) military history, from the civil war of the 1930s
to the long period of rule by General Francisco Franco. Partly it may have something to do
with Spains own internal political difficulties, which have made it one of the more
sensitive allied countries when it comes to allegations about separatists resorting to
"terrorism" to achieve their aims.
Although Spanish leaders preferred to stress the countrys
involvement with the refugee crisis, in response to which generous contributions were
made, Spains was one of the handful of allied air forces to take part in strategic
bombing. The countrys F-18s (equipped with laser-guided bombs) were in on the first
wave of attacks on 24 March 1999 and had flown, by early June, some 200 sorties, of which
160 were strike sorties. Militarily, for a country with an armed force some three times
the size of Canadas, Spain seems to have refined the art of "burden
sharing" in a fairly cost-effective manner, doing more than Portugal and Belgium but
less than Canada. It eventually committed eight of its F-18s to Operation Allied Force,
and also allowed US military aircraft on the way to Serbia to use bases on Spanish soil.
13. The New Entrants: Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic top
Péter Tálas and László Valki
Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO just twelve days
before air strikes against Yugoslavia began - although, originally, the accession was
planned to take place in April 1999 at the Washington Summit. Nevertheless, the attitude
of these countries regarding the air strikes was not determined by whether or not they
were members on 24 March, but by the fact that all three were desirous of joining the
North Atlantic Alliance, and thus the West, since the early nineties. In other words, they
wanted to rejoin the community of states they had been separated from by history.
Naturally, their attitudes showed some difference in the details.
Hungary:As far as Hungary was concerned, the government
consistently supported the air campaign against Yugoslavia and took an active part by
opening its airspace and airfields to NATO aircraft. Opposition parties and majority
public opinion also approved of the NATO operation. Geographically, Hungarys
position was very important. It had common borders with Yugoslavia, and - since the
Dayton Peace Accord - a military base and airfield in the southern part of the
country, at Taszár, has been providing logistical support for the IFOR/SFOR operations.
In October 1998, NATO had requested permission to use Hungarian airspace, and in March
1999 it extended its request to the use of the Hungarian airfields as well.
Later, a debate evolved in the Hungarian press among leading Hungarian
intellectuals about the legitimacy and efficiency of the NATO air strikes. Another debate
evolved in connection with the use of ground forces. In response to the lack of success of
the first three weeks of air strikes, there was growing speculation in the Western media
that the war could not be ended without the use of ground forces. Its geographical
position would have made Hungary most suitable for launching a ground invasion. Hungarian
military leaders also thought that a ground attack was inevitable and that it would have
to be launched from Hungary. But neither the government or the opposition supported such a
plan. Leading politicians declared that Hungary could undertake only such commitments that
would not endanger the lives of ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina.
The preparation of a ground force invasion would have taken several
weeks, giving Milosevic sufficient time to deploy his special police units against ethnic
Hungarians who did not have an armed organization like the KLA to defend them. Foreign
Minister János Martonyi said that it was not in Yugoslavias interest to extend the
conflict to Hungary. Hungary had no desire to participate in a military action, but would
participate in a possible peacekeeping mission. Leading NATO politicians considered this
acceptable; it had always been the Alliances position that directly neighboring
states did not have to take part in military operations. In fact, such participation would
even be counterproductive, since it entails the possibility of a direct armed conflict and
consequently a dangerous escalation of the fighting. Interestingly enough, according to
many observers, in the end Milosevic gave in because he thought that he would not be able
to face a ground force attack.
Poland: Amongst the three new member states, Poland had
the greatest public support for joining the Alliance. This support slipped only slightly
during the NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia. Polish officials were among the first to
suggest the bombardment of Serb TV and radio stations in order to crush Milosevics
propaganda machine. Moreover they were determined in principle to support the idea of
supplementing air strikes with land operations. No request was made to Warsaw for the use
of Polish airspace, nor were the Poles asked to participate in the maritime blockade
The consistent policy adopted by the Warsaw government did not match
the views of the political elite and the Polish public. On the contrary, the Kosovo
conflict deeply divided the public and politicians (the latter without regard to party
affiliation). However, the NATO air campaign was generally favored by the moderates of the
political spectrum, no matter whether they were on the left or on the right. These are the
political groups that will likely govern Poland in various political constellations during
the years to come.
Czech Republic: Amongst the new members of NATO, the
Czech Republic featured the noisiest and most spectacular debate about NATOs air
campaign. Greece and the Czech Republic were the only NATO members that, although having
granted their votes, demonstrated views of open dissent. The government approved the
opening of Czech airspace and airfields to allied military aircraft as late as on 6 April.
In spite of the fact that all political parties promised their support to the proposal of
the government, it was passed by Parliament only after five hours of stormy debate (with
145 representatives out of 181 present in support of the vote). Direct participation in
possible land operations was a non-issue, since the government strongly opposed the idea
of a ground attack. It would have limited the involvement of Czech troops only to the
defence and aid of Albanian refugees.
PART FOUR - SELECTED INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVES top
14. The Muslim World: Uneasy Ambivalence top
Ibrahim A. Karawan
In Muslim countries, as in many other parts of the world, the conflict
in Kosovo was followed not only with considerable attention, but also with the belief that
it was far from being just one more conflict to be added to the ethnic conflicts that
proliferated after the end of the Cold War. Even more than the war in Bosnia, the Kosovo
conflict has been seen as a defining moment or a critical juncture, the importance of
which would ultimately transcend the immediate setting, or the winners as well as losers
in that conflict.
Analysts and opinion makers alerted the attentive public in many Muslim
countries to the importance of grasping and understanding the "lessons of
Kosovo" in anticipation of political trends that are going to unfold necessarily in
the future - or so they argued. Clearly, the proclaimed "lessons of Kosovo"
were not the same according to various schools of thought. As in other regions of the
world, the events of Kosovo became an arena of sharp contention over the very meaning of
international interactions, the real intentions of major international actors, and the
relationship between "what is" and "what ought to be" in our very
rapidly changing international politics.
A diversity of interests and perspectives has characterized the
political perceptions and policy positions of Muslim countries. These countries in fact
could not or would not do much to influence the outcome of the conflict. They also failed
to develop a consensus on the Kosovo war or put an agreed-upon label on the conflict in
Kosovo for various reasons.
Thus, knowing that a specific country is Muslim or that its population
has a Muslim majority does not give us adequate answers to questions about its likely
positions on a matter like Kosovo. Despite the repeated talk during the last quarter of a
century about the growth of Islam as a transnational movement at the expense of
territorial states, the fact that Muslims continue to live within the boundaries of
nation-states does indeed matter. Hence, one can identify the diversity of the positions
and policies of these Muslim countries despite their shared and broad sympathy with some
other Muslims in distress.
Many of those in Islamic countries who supported the NATO operation on
the grounds that the Muslims in Kosovo might ultimately benefit from it, argue that the
Alliance committed strategic mistakes in carrying out its military operations. This made
their support indeed a qualified one. These mistakes included not intervening earlier, the
refusal to deploy ground troops to put a decisive end to the conflict, and not
anticipating Milosevics resort to the eviction of hundreds of thousands of Muslims
Beyond that, a leading newspaper in Bahrain condemned the recurrence of
cases in which the NATO military machine failed to distinguish between the combatants and
noncombatants at a high cost in human life of innocent civilians in Serbia. NATO promises
about surgical strikes and that the civilian population in Serbia would not be affected by
the heavy bombardment and firing of missiles turned out to be false. In essence, those who
adopted that perspective believed that supporting the Muslims in Kosovo should not entail
justifying the killing of many innocent human beings, whether they were Serbs or not. As
al-Ayam put it, "whoever sends fighters and missiles against civilians in Yugoslavia
cannot be any less evil and barbaric than Milosevic."
In some Muslim societies in which similar arguments have been
expressed, the comparison between the American actions against Yugoslavia and against Iraq
was central in shaping such views. According to these arguments, in both Iraq and
Yugoslavia many innocent civilians who did not have any means of influencing the policy
choices of their authoritarian leaders have suffered on a very large scale from the
combined effects of the devastating military strikes and of the economic embargo.
According to that perspective, part of the U.S. strategic objective was to use the Kosovo
conflict to further test new generations of sophisticated weapons or military doctrine and
to demonstrate its vast preponderance of power in order to intimidate potential
challengers to its worldwide influence in the future.
15. Latin America: The Dilemmas of Intervention top
This examination of different responses in Latin America to the Kosovo
crisis finds parallels with the wider tension between state interests and human rights,
which has led observers to characterize the UN Charter as a "dynamic
Different responses to the crisis developed both in a context dominated
by changing legal and political interpretations of the right of intervention, and in the
context of democratic and humanitarian crises. Thus the declaration issued by the Rio
Group on 25 March 1999, one day after NATOs bombing began, needs to be seen as an
attempt to reconcile respect for human rights and state sovereignty.
In Latin America, responses to NATOs military intervention in
Yugoslavia did not follow a uniform pattern. Reactions in the region varied from moderate
support to open opposition. At one end of the spectrum, Argentina and Chile made clear
their concern about NATOs decision and its dismissal of the UN, but their responses
did seek to reconcile sovereignty and respect for human rights. For Argentina in
particular, NATOs actions were not openly construed as illegitimate. Brazils
more moderate approach was explicable by its traditional emphasis on
"universalism" and multilateralism, and its more cautious stand vis-ŕ-vis the
loosening-up of the principle of non-intervention in the region. At the other end of the
spectrum, we find Mexico. Fearful of autonomist threats at home, the Mexican government
privileged Yugoslavias territorial integrity and rigidly opposed NATOs resort
to military force.
Entangled within the different responses lie a series of factors, among
which domestic political circumstances and wider regional trends are the most important.
The different dynamics unleashed by the transition to democracy and the restoration of
democratic civilian supremacy have strongly influenced the positions of different
countries in the changing legal context for intervention and the external protection of
democracy. It is, in fact, possible to analyze the various responses to the Kosovo crisis
in terms of this regional quest.
16. South Africa: The Demand for Legitimate Multilateralism top
The official South African reaction to the Kosovo crisis was
even-handed, favouring none of the sides to the conflict. However, the frequency and
intensity of SA reactions to NATO bombings were striking, and are in need of some
explanation. Given its leadership position in many multilateral bodies (SADC, UNCTAD, NAM,
and others), South Africa could be expected to respond prominently. The emphasis placed on
the inappropriateness of NATOs actions, and the emphasis on the UN Security Council
as the sole legitimate forum to deal with matters of humanitarian intervention, are
striking in official declarations by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Three possible "selfish" reasons exist for these two
emphases: Firstly, through these declarations, South Africa wanted to atone for its own
involvement in a non-UNSC-sanctioned humanitarian intervention (Lesotho, September 1998),
that went somewhat awry. Secondly, emphasizing the primary role of the UNSC would shift
responsibility for dealing with African crises to the UNSC, and would thus relieve South
Africa of some of the pressure it is experiencing as one of the designated "conflict
managers" in sub-Saharan Africa. Thirdly, the South African government, reflecting
the position of the OAU in particular, wanted to make clear that unilateral intervention,
no matter how noble the pretext, is not acceptable.
This last reason reflects a broader commitment to broad multilateralism
(as distinct from the narrow multilateralism practiced by NATO) by the NAM, in general,
and by its current chair, South Africa, in particular. Such a broad, non-discriminatory
multilateralism (in all issue areas, including security and trade) remains the best
safeguard that the developing world has against unilateral misuse of power by the strong.
Hopefully, the denouement of the Kosovo crisis will lead to a re-commitment to this
normative vision of global politics.
17. India: An Uneasy Precedent top
It appears that, as the world enters the new millennium, the spectre of
the United Nations becoming a toothless and impotent organization is looming large over
us. The main reason for this depressing outlook is the recent experience of NATO
intervention in Kosovo. The merits of the respective stands of the belligerents
notwithstanding, the manner in which the United Nations was totally ignored and bypassed,
the arrogant violation of all international treaty norms, transgression of state
sovereignty, the indiscriminate destruction of civilian infrastructure and the killing of
innocent civilians, by a regional organization comprising most of the developed countries
of the Western world, has given cause for deep disquiet about the future of this august
Events in the Balkans in the early nineties were only marginally
monitored or followed in India. This was primarily because the country was then
preoccupied with domestic and regional commitments, such as dealing with terrorist
activity in the states of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Assam, and with the operations of
the Indian Peacekeeping Force in Sri Lanka. Even so, analysts of the Balkan situation find
it incomprehensible that the USA and Western Europe did not apply their efforts to seeking
a resolution of the Kosovo situation during the deliberations at Dayton. This is the
reason for the scepticism of the strategic community in India, in so far as the evident
Western bias against the Serbs is concerned.
However, when NATO resorted to air strikes and bombing in Yugoslavia on
24 March 1999, there was unequivocal condemnation in India, both from the Government and
outside. The unilateral action was viewed as a flagrant violation of all international
norms, against the provisions of the United Nations Charter, and seen as direct and
unprovoked aggression. NATO intervention in Kosovo raises a number of issues that merit
scrutiny and analysis in the context of what the future holds for the developing world.
The humanitarian dimension is sad and depressing; but notwithstanding the efforts of the
ubiquitous Western media, the responsibility for the extent of the humanitarian crisis
rests on NATO. The legal and ethical positions in regard to the sovereignty and integrity
of a state are a matter of concern. The possibility of the extension of NATOs area
of operations is disturbing. The irony is that it is quite obvious that the operation was
an unprofessional miscalculation of some politicians and diplomats; it could not have been
the preferred option of NATOs military planners.
The prime movers of the utterly inexcusable operation had drawn all the
wrong lessons from what had transpired during the conflict in Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina. At that time, there were Croatian and Muslim troops (trained and
equipped by the U.S.) to exploit the air operations with operations on the ground. The
apprehension of most countries is that the primacy of the UN Security Council in the
maintenance of international peace and security is being totally compromised. And finally,
the message that the developing countries are reading is that they should place as the
heads of the governments in their countries only such persons as are acceptable to those
who intend to run the world. If they fail to do so, they will be deprived of assistance
from international organizations, and subjected to sanctions and, possibly, bombings.
The international community cannot and must not allow itself to become
hostage to the machinations of a few privileged and powerful countries. Moves are already
afoot to seek common positions, if not alignments, and for a restructuring of the United
Nations Security Council. Many developing countries may feel compelled to move towards
ensuring greater security for themselves, and self-reliance through acquisition of more
weaponry. There is almost total unanimity in India that the country needs to strengthen
itself militarily to the extent that there can be no scope for any interference in the
affairs on the subcontinent.
PART FIVE - CHALLENGES OF THE POST-WAR ORDER top
18. NATO: From Collective Defence to Peace Enforcement top
Since the end of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) has transformed itself from an organization concerned principally with collective
defence and deterrence of the Soviet Union into a powerful player in the field of
peace-keeping and peace enforcement in Europe.
The North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 was originally designed to provide
for the common defence of the US, Canada and their Western European allies. The Treaty
spells out the geographical boundaries of Alliance territory and emphasizes the
"primary responsibility of the [UN] Security Council for the maintenance of
international peace and security." Despite this, in the war over Kosovo NATO carried
out its largest and most complex military operation to date, against a sovereign state
that posed no direct threat to Alliance territory, outside Alliance borders, and without
the backing of the UN Security Council.
NATO represented its strategy in Kosovo as "diplomacy backed by
credible force." US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright highlighted this
combination of diplomacy and force as one of the "basic principles" leading to
the successful conclusion of NATOs bombing of Serbia. NATOs stated objectives
were to halt or avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and to support international
efforts to secure Yugoslav agreement to an interim political settlement. Military strategy
was therefore presented as being necessary to disrupt the violent attacks being committed
by the Serb Army and Special Police Forces.
The principal Alliance objective of achieving a political agreement
with the Belgrade authorities, including the withdrawal of Serb military forces from
Kosovo and the introduction of a multinational implementation force, KFOR, was achieved.
Air strikes did not, however, have the quick and decisive deterrent effect on the
Milosevic regime that NATO expected. Speaking at the time, Representative Porter Goss,
Chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, said the effect of air strikes was that
"instead of caving in, Milosevic struck back harder and more ruthlessly against the
The length of the air campaign had the effect of pushing NATO cohesion
to the limits, putting particular pressure on countries such as Italy and Greece where
public opposition to the air strikes was high. According to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Strobe Talbott, had Milosevic not conceded on 3 June, "there would have been
increasing difficulty within the alliance in preserving the solidarity and the resolve of
At a political level, NATO unity was tested by differences of opinion
about questions such as whether to use ground forces, the possibility of boarding ships in
the Adriatic to enforce the maritime blockade of Yugoslavia, and the bombing of
"phase 3" targets such as communications facilities and supply stores. At
particular stages, Italy, Germany and Greece advocated a pause in the bombing to allow for
greater diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict. In contrast, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair insisted that there would be "no halt" to the bombing until
NATOs objectives had been met. NATO military strategy was also restricted by U.S.
concerns not to risk a domestic political backlash, including actions that could endanger
American military forces.
Fundamental policy differences between the Allies led to a "lowest
common denominator" approach to achieving military objectives. Although high-altitude
bombing appears to have delivered Alliance objectives without Allied casualties, its
success in destroying Serb military forces is open to question. Highprofile targeting
errors, such as the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, the bombings of Serb and
Kosovar Albanian civilians, and the missiles that landed outside Yugoslavia, have raised
doubts about the effectiveness of the air campaign.
Although NATO forces escaped with minimal loss of life, the impact of
the air strikes on civilian life in Yugoslavia has been severe. However, air strikes did
not prevent widespread atrocities against civilians on the ground in Kosovo or the mass
exodus of refugees into neighbouring countries. At best, NATO was unable to halt the
humanitarian catastrophe until it was too late for many Kosovar Albanians. At worst, the
transition from OSCE monitoring to NATO air strikes precipitated a greater disaster for
those left in Kosovo.
Despite NATOs decision in March 1999 to go ahead with Operation
Allied Force without a Security Council resolution, the question of acting without UN
backing is still controversial within the Alliance. Although the U.S. domestic debate is
still hostile to an enhanced role for the UN, the result of the Kosovo operation for many
of NATOs European members has been to increase their concerns about the implications
of acting without UN backing.
A dangerous precedent has been set in the Balkans, whereby NATO takes
action with UN backing when possible, but without it if Alliance members think it
necessary. Although the U.S. does not wish to set any geographical limits on NATOs
sphere of influence, most of NATOs European members would prefer to limit future
NATO operations to within Europe. Even in Europe, the war in Chechnya demonstrates how
difficult it would be for NATO to conduct operations similar to Operation Allied Force in
regions where there may be more politically at stake.
With the beginning of air strikes against Yugoslavia, NATOs
post-Cold War relationship with Russia reached a new low. Talks in the NATO-Russia
Permanent Joint Council were brought to a halt. Russias parliament put ratification
of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty on hold. At the height of the conflict, the
Russian Foreign Ministry also alleged that NATO had violated the Conventional Forces in
Europe (CFE) Treaty in Albania and Macedonia.
The bombing of Yugoslavia may also have a negative impact on the wider
nuclear non-proliferation regime. At the 1999 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting, a number of diplomats speculated privately on
whether NATO would have bombed Belgrade if Yugoslavia possessed nuclear capabilities.
NATO presents the outcome of Operation Allied Force as vindicating
Alliance peace enforcement strategy. The high-tech, televised demonstrations gave a large
boost to the aerospace industry, which argues that with superior air power, the Alliance
has imposed its will with minimal casualties on its own side.
Kosovo has given impetus to European Union plans for a more integrated
defence policy, whilst also increasing pressure for NATO enlargement.
The post-war situation in Kosovo indicates that NATO is still far from
achieving its goal of bringing peace and stability to a multi-ethnic Kosovo. The
communities in Kosovo are as polarized as ever, traumatized by air strikes and widespread
atrocities. Both communities are still heavily armed. As a result of the air strikes, the
different elements of KFOR are no longer seen as impartial peacekeepers. Many Serbs
believe that NATO is biased against them, while all now lack confidence in the
Alliances ability to protect them. Meanwhile, ethnic Albanians have made clear that
since Russia opposed Allied air strikes, they see the Russian contingent in KFOR as biased
Peace-support operations in Kosovo, along with Bosnia-Herzegovina, now
look set to continue indefinitely. The costs and risks of such a long-term operation will
put NATO under further strain, especially in areas such as maintaining Alliance cohesion
and keeping all Allies committed.
Divisions are emerging between the Allies over the level of
independence that should be given to Kosovar Albanians in the long term. The U.S. and EU
are divided on the issue of who should pay for reconstruction, with the result that
efforts to rebuild the region have been slow getting started. The scale and cost of the
NATO operations in the Balkans limits Alliance capability to operate elsewhere,
reinforcing the position of NATO members who want to see the Alliance restricted to
operations within Europe.
NATO expended huge military and political resources on a relatively
small region, and yet the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia are still far from resolved.
Military power alone has not been sufficient, and other skills and expertise will be
needed if reconciliation and reconstruction are to proceed in the Balkans.
As NATO reviews its strategy in the aftermath of Operation Allied
Force, it must give greater priority to rebuilding its relationship with the United
Nations, so that future peace support operations are genuinely carried out in the
interests of, and with the support of, the international community.
19. The United Nations System and the Kosovo Crisis top
A.J.R. Groom and Paul Taylor
A number of important lessons need to be learned from the UNs
involvement in the Kosovo crisis.
Any attempt to get general agreements among governments about the
principles that should govern intervention through Security Council Resolutions would be
counterproductive at this time. Intervention in present circumstances has to depend upon a
conjunction of the various overlapping interests of states, and a common perception of the
relevance in particular instances of moral principles. Agreement in advance on general
rules governing when intervention could take place would be very difficult to achieve,
unless on the basis of a minimum common denominator that would make it more difficult even
in cases of gross violations of basic standards. A code of rules governing intervention
would be likely in the early 21st century to limit rather than help effective
and responsible action on the part of the international community. The charge of double
standards is inevitable. But the creation of and strengthening of humanitarian norms in
the medium and long term is a practical goal.
Obtaining explicit wording in Security Council resolutions is a
worthwhile long-term goal. But for the time being, the most positive development is that
Security Council resolutions are based on a growing consensus about coded messages in the
form of wordings such as "all necessary measures" (SC678 Nov. 1990 on the Iraq
invasion of Kuwait). This is because some states will only agree to action if the form of
words does not appear to be strengthening a norm of intervention and creating a precedent.
The tone of the language, its focus and the appeals made to states in the Kosovo
resolutions (1160, 1190 and 1203) provided some measure of justification for the action.
In recent years, forcible interventions have rarely if ever been authorized by the SC in
There could be significant refinement of the process of conducting
intervention. Crises can get out of control when diplomatic momentum leads to losing
control of the process. For instance, in the case of the Kosovo crisis, there was no
anticipation of the failure of Rambouillet; no plan B had been agreed upon regarding
alternatives if the form of military force chosen failed to achieve its ends. Similarly,
the Serb authorities were demonized collectively, making it more difficult to deploy
sophisticated diplomacy against the Serbs - mixing carrots and sticks - before
the NATO strikes.
Future interventions should avoid a premature commitment to a
particular form of military action. In the Kosovo context, excluding ground forces from
the beginning was a serious mistake, which was recognized by the senior military
authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Uncertainty about the possible use of ground forces
should have been preserved, and in future interventions a principle of ambiguity should be
Governments should also be careful about taking false lessons from
history. Much reference was made to the Dayton context in the earlier phases of the crisis
in ex-Yugoslavia. But that of Iraq may have been more appropriate, in that Milosevic did
not simply respond to the use of NATO air power at the time of Dayton, but also to the use
of ground forces, especially in Krajina. For some reason, the role of ground forces in the
earlier phase of the crisis was ignored, in part because of an over-cautious attitude
about the possible risks to military personnel and the likely public response. The result
of this caution was the death of more civilians and fewer military.
It is dangerous to base action on axiomatic principles without
reflection. Insisting on no partition, no independence, enforced multi-ethnicity, and no
questioning of borders imposed constraints on the possibilities of compromise. Finding a
way forward was made more difficult rather than eased.
UNHCR should have its capacity for effective and rapid response
improved. It should have more warehoused stores and human resources in reserve and in
ample supply. The model should be that of the military, in the sense of a capacity in
There can be no environmental or economic reconstruction without
including Serbia. The Milosevic regime still has a number of cards to play, and a worst
case analysis would be an "Iraqization" of Serbia.
The work of the UN in the post-war situation requires a difficult
coordination of political and military factors as well as efficient cooperation between
the UN, the UNHCR, the EU and OSCE. This is a uniquely complex set of requirements, and
highly demanding in terms of coordination between discrete institutions. The greatest
amount of attention possible should be given to ensuring effective coordination, and the
mistakes in coordination in earlier phases of the crisis have to be avoided. Above all the
UN system should be seen to be effective and neutral - two goals that must be
reconciled despite the difficulty of doing so.
But if the UN is seen as an obstacle to the independence of the
Kosovars, its task will become very difficult, especially that of KFOR. The UN must
respect the Albanians wish to achieve self-determination. The insistence on keeping
Kosovo in Serbia in accordance with the goal of protecting the state of Federal
Yugoslavia, as indicated in SC1203 and 1244, is a mistake.
It is unlikely that the resources required for a proper post-conflict
engagement in Kosovo will be forthcoming in the light of experience in other such crises.
The average product of Consolidated Funding appeals instigated by DHNA/OCHA was less than
30 per cent by the late 1990s. Every effort should be made to anticipate likely shortfalls
in funding, to be inventive in seeking alternative sources and to be realistic about
20. The Concept of Humanitarian Intervention Revisited top
Intervention in liberal international theory. The last decade of
the twentieth century opened and closed with major international interventions. There were
striking differences between Operation Desert Storm, which forced Saddam Hussein to
withdraw Iraqi forces from Kuwait, and the NATO operation against Yugoslavia, which forced
Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw Serbian forces from Kosovo. But there were also
similarities. The main contrast is between an operation that had the unanimous support of
the Security Council, and all but one of the regional states, and one that was deeply
unpopular outside the NATO alliance itself. The similarity lies in the failure of the
Western powers to obtain Security Council support for Chapter VII action in respect of the
humanitarian aspects of the two crises.
It is now widely accepted that the major threat to international peace
and security stems from civil conflicts that overflow state boundaries and are accompanied
by the massive abuse of human rights. So why has humanitarian intervention proved so
problematic? The answer to this question is partly a reflection of the negative experience
of such interventions in the 1990s. But it is also a consequence of the philosophical
foundations of international society, which appear to rule it out. Despite the record of
the past decade, it remains in doubt whether humanitarian intervention is consistent with
the prevailing norms of international relations.
The problem arises because the modern international system has been
constructed on the basis of the principle of sovereignty, which remains the cornerstone of
international law and diplomacy. Traditional international society was a self-help system.
The formula cuius regio eius religio, the ancestor of the modern non-interference
principle, outlawed religious war but was otherwise highly permissive. Until 1919,
governments were free to pursue their interests by any means, up to and including
territorial conquest. Humanitarian considerations seldom, if ever, entered into the
From the mid-19th century, liberal thinkers faced a dilemma:
namely, how to uphold the system that protects the freedom of all states against the
predatory ambitions of the most powerful, without allowing tyrants as well as democrats to
claim its protection. J.S. Mill constructed a liberal defence of intervention in cases
where the destitution of the target population could be shown to be the responsibility of
the intervening power. But responsibility has not been much used in arguments about
humanitarian intervention. Since 1989, the question has been discussed, on the one hand,
in terms of the penalties that should follow if governments fail to uphold the fundamental
human rights of their citizens and, on the other, of the recognition that massive abuse of
these rights may, on occasion, justify a breach of the non-interference principle.
However, the latter cannot be specified in advance.
Humanitarian intervention in the 1990s. Which of these positions
will prevail remains unclear. Prior to the Kosovo crisis, the experience of UN
intervention suggested that where peace-keeping operations followed rather than
accompanied a political settlement, UN forces were able to reinforce the work of the
humanitarian agencies and contribute to political stabilization. In other cases -
those that involved coercive intervention in the conventional sense - it probably had
more negative than positive results. Experience in the former Yugoslavia convinced the
major powers that there was no Chapter Six-and-a-Half solution, a halfway house between
peacekeeping and enforcement. The failure was political, not humanitarian; lives were
saved, but those targeted were not persuaded to change their objectives. This led, on the
one hand, to a refusal to confront the Rwandan genocide and, on the other, to the
emergence of a doctrine of limited liability under which the West would only involve
itself in civil conflicts where time limits could be set in advance and an exit strategy
established at the outset.
The decline of Security Council activism seemed to confirm the view
that the end of the Cold War had not fundamentally modified the constitutional order of
international society. The West took the lead in promoting human rights and democratic
values, but their willingness to intervene in support of these values remained highly
selective, particularly where their own interests were not directly involved. Nonetheless,
Kosovo (and East Timor) reopened the debate over the legitimacy of humanitarian
A review of the legal arguments for and against the NATO operation is
inconclusive. Even if the legal evolutionist argument is accepted, formidable practical
obstacles remain. This argument holds that a right (indeed a duty) of humanitarian
intervention is established wherever it can be unambiguously shown that a government can
no longer claim to be the exclusive representative of either the whole or a part of the
population over which it claims authority. But this argument will only convince if the
interventions carried out in its name prove effective.
- Policy implications. The overall analysis of this study points to three areas in
which there is clearly a need for policy-related research and debate. In different ways,
they all relate to the issue of responsibility and the importance of ensuring that
decisions to intervene are taken not merely on the basis of the best possible
intelligence, but with proper regard to the technical and political requirements of the
operation. In Kosovo, professional opinion on the dangers of relying on air power alone
should not have been discounted for so long. In East Timor, the UN should not have
embarked on preparation for a plebiscite before addressing the issue of the army-trained
militias who were determined to wreck it.
The instruments of coercion: In order to trigger Chapter VII intervention -
or, for that matter, intervention by a group of states acting, as NATO claimed to be
doing, legally but outside the UN - it has become axiomatic to preface the use of
force by the imposition of sanctions. Whatever the justification for their use in other
contexts, if the objective is the relief of suffering and the democratization of the
targeted society, they are a grotesquely inappropriate instrument. Defenders of sanctions
tend to invoke the idea of "fine tuning," but the onus is on them to show how
this can be achieved.
The logic and time-scale of humanitarian intervention: The relief of suffering
is an end in itself, but intervention will only be able to claim success if stability is
restored. This hardly seems compatible with exit strategies announced in advance. The
implications of an emerging system of UN trusteeships (whatever they may be called in
practice) needs further study. It seems unlikely that the objectives of these operations
can be achieved without a corps of trained administrative personnel. Given the diversity
of conditions in which they must work, this may seem an unachievable proposal. But it does
underline the need to check the present tendency to will the ends but not the means, by
presenting governments earlier rather than later with the best possible estimate of costs
The UN/regional division of labour. There may be practical
considerations that favour relying, in the first instance, on regional organizations to
orchestrate the international response to humanitarian catastrophe. But there is no
intrinsic reason why the problems of intervention in civil conflicts should be any
different, or more tractable, just because local rather than distant powers do the
intervening. It follows that ways need to be explored for ensuring that regional
intervention does not merely mask the pursuit of particular interests by the most powerful
21. The Concept of Sovereignty Revisited top
Alan M. James
Two connected-but-distinct meanings attached to sovereignty must be
distinguished: sovereignty meaning "sovereign status," and sovereignty meaning
"sovereign rights." The former refers to the condition that a territorial entity
must enjoy for it to be eligible to engage in normal international relations. It consists
of constitutional independence. The latter refers to those legal rights attached to
entities that have sovereign status, such as the right to exercise jurisdiction within
their domains - a right protected by the duty placed on other states not to intervene
in the internal affairs of their fellows. Sovereign rights are therefore a consequence of
sovereign status. But whereas sovereign status is, in principle, either possessed or not,
the exercise of sovereign rights may be curtailed. This may happen either through a state
agreeing not to use certain rights, or by other states using force to prevent some of
those rights being used.
Yugoslavias sovereign status has not been affected by the events
relating to Kosovo. But its sovereign rights have been massively infringed by NATOs
various aerial measures and by the de facto imposition of an international
administration in Kosovo. This statement is advanced on the level of fact. (Whether the
events to which it refers were lawful or unlawful is a separate issue.) The question to
which, in the present context, the statement leads is whether states should be rather less
sanguine about the ability to behave as they wish within their borders without any real
danger of being physically called to account. The answer is both no and yes.
The negative response flows from the difficulties and costs of
intervention. The requisite military tools will probably be considerable; their employment
will have a heavy financial implication; and there will almost certainly be considerable
worry about the human costs that might be suffered by the interveners. Then, too, the use
of force in this way may well entail significant diplomatic costs. For these reasons, it
is likely that physical intervention will continue to be hugely easier to urge than to
On the other hand, Kosovo can hardly fail to make an indelible mark on
the context of legal ideas within which it is likely that the norm of non-intervention
will undergo a reformulation at the hands of some publicists and politicians. The revised
version will probably add clarity and weight to the assertion that the forceful
infringement of a states sovereign right of domestic jurisdiction is permitted in
response the gross breach of human rights. That version may not be over-enthusiastically
received in all quarters, so that general agreement that it has in fact become part of
customary international law will probably be, at least, delayed. However, states will in
future be aware that the right of domestic jurisdiction has lost at least a little of its
previously hallowed character, and become a bit more conditional on a better standard of
For their part, possible interveners will have greater confidence in
their legal right to throw a bridge over the moat of sovereign rights, behind which the
domestic affairs of states have traditionally been sheltered. Therefore, even without the
comfort and encouragement of a generally accepted revision of the non-intervention norm,
there is a greater possibility of Kosovo-type action being taken if roughly similar
Although comparable circumstance may not be lacking, for political and
strategic reasons operations along Kosovo lines may not often be embarked upon in the
immediate future, which will further delay the widespread acknowledgment of a reshaped
norm. The Kosovo crisis has undoubtedly introduced some change into the wider world -
but not much.
PART SIX - OPINION, MEDIA, CIVIL SOCIETY top
22. Analogies at War: The United States, the Conflict in Kosovo and the
Uses of History top
George C. Herring
This study looked at the historical analogy by U.S. policymakers in the
war in Kosovo in the context of the larger questions raised by the value of historical
metaphor and analogy in decision-making. It makes several major points.
First, the heavy reliance on historical analogy in the war in Kosovo
should come as no surprise since in all of Americas recent wars, history has played
a key role in determining policy choices and selling the policies chosen. The perceived
"lessons" of World War I led to passage of the Neutrality Acts by Congress in
the 1930s, and the lessons of the 1930s in turn decisively influenced the U.S.
determination to stop Communist aggression in the 1950s and 1960s. As Munich and
appeasement became watchwords for policy makers in the Cold War era, so also Vietnam
became the watchword for the 1970s and 1980s, with policy makers and the public alike
remaining wary of repeating that debacle. Those scholars who have studied this phenomenon
conclude that, more often than not, history is used badly in choosing and justifying
policies. Analogies are at best inexact, and reliance on them is as likely to mislead as
Another point is that those American leaders who initiated and waged
the war in Kosovo, like their predecessors in earlier wars, relied heavily on history to
justify and sell their policies. From World War II, they claimed to learn the dangers of
appeasing aggression and developed fears of another Holocaust, and therefore they
determined to stop Serb aggression in Kosovo. Members of the Vietnam generation, President
Bill Clinton and his top advisers were also wary of another Vietnam and, hence, determined
to do everything possible to avoid a "quagmire." Thus from the outset they took
a firm stand against the use of ground troops and relied on air power.
Many of Clintons critics also drew on history to challenge his
policies. Those who questioned the reliance on air power pointed to the limitations in the
Battle of Britain and in Vietnam. Other critics like Senator John McCain warned that
Vietnams central lesson was that partial measures did not work and that, once at
war, the only choice was to go all out for victory.
This brief survey of the role of the analogy in the Kosovo conflict
concluded that history was no better used here than in previous wars. The analogies from
which the lessons were drawn were far from precise. The Europe of 1939 was not the Europe
of 1999. Slobodan Milosevic was not Hitler and, as bad as they were, Serb atrocities in
Kosovo did not match the Holocaust. Airpower worked better than most expected, but it did
not win the quick victory Clinton anticipated, and it had substantial human costs, giving
Milosevic the opportunity and pretext to drive the Kosovars from their homeland. There is
evidence to suggest that the American public is more willing to accept casualties than
policy makers believed, and Clintons fears drawn from memories of Vietnam seem to
have been exaggerated.
One can offer some modest suggestions for ways history might better be
used by policymakers (without the slightest confidence that they would have much effect.)
The one valid lesson of history might be to view all historical lessons with a healthy
skepticism. "The chief use of history," James Bryce once observed, "is to
deliver us from plausible historical analogy." If nothing else, decision makers,
journalists, and the interested public might use history to better understand how
contemporary problems came into being and better comprehend their internal dynamics.
Rather than employing false and misleading analogies, they might also use history to
enlighten themselves about areas and people with whom they most deal.
Rather than predict outcomes, history should alert us to the
unexpected. "Instead of telling us that certain conditions can be shown from past
experience to lead to certain assured consequences," historian George Elton once
wrote, "history forever demonstrates the unexpectedness of the event and so instills
a proper skepticism in the face of all those vast and universal claims."
23. Media Coverage of the War: An Empirical Assessment top
What are the policy implications of global media, particularly
regarding the war in Yugoslavia in 1999? The fundamental requirement for a serviceable
reply to this question is the employment of a proper analytical framework. We identify
three phases or types of media effects on policy:
- Agenda setting: By focusing on some conflicts and human rights problems (and not
others), media coverage of humanitarian crises or other dramatic stories pressures policy
makers to respond.
- Catalyst: Global real-time media speeds diplomacy and decision-making.
It is the third media effect on policy that interests us the most. It
assumes publics will not support a war when the effects of it are served up to them on
their television screens. Emotionally compelling pictures carried by CNN and other media
undermine public support for policy objectives. Ergo, those who wish to inhibit war would
be well advised to encourage media coverage, particularly of the carnage of war.
- Impediment: Emotionally compelling coverage of war tends to undermine public support
for the continuation of hostilities.
This logic failed in Yugoslavia. The American and most European publics
supported the war, despite compelling pictures of the consequence of bombing Yugoslav
cities. In our analysis, we find countervailing trends: Pictures of refugees tended to
bolster U.S. and European public support for the military action, while pictures of
collateral damage - the death of civilians by errant NATO bombs - undermined
support for the bombing. Of 23,000 bombs and missiles launched, at least twenty went
astray, according to NATO and the Pentagon.
Not surprisingly, the May 7 bombing of the Chinese Embassy received the
most coverage of all NATO bombing mistakes. In total, CNN offered at least 414 stories
about NATO bomb and missile mistakes, or about 12 percent of all CNN coverage of the war
in Kosovo. These stories were not, however, the most memorable for American audiences.
This is seen in the results of a Roper Center survey question that
asked, "Thinking about the news coverage of the situation in Yugoslavia, which
pictures and stories have caught your attention most?" In mid-April, respondents were
clearly not as moved by stories concerning NATO bombing mistakes as they were concerning
the plight of ethnic Albanian refugees and the victims of violence in Kosovo:
A second ordering of attention ("What other pictures or stories
most caught your eye?") produced the following results.
- Pictures and stories about the refugees leaving Kosovo 30%
- Pictures and stories about the air attacks and damage in Serbia 8%
- Pictures and stories about the victims of violence in Kosovo 24%
- Pictures and stories about the three captured U.S. soldiers 35%
Only 8 per cent of the respondents mentioned the air attacks as a first
response, and 15 per cent as a second response. The highest response rate was for the
three captured American soldiers. Taken together, pictures and stories of refugees and
victims of violence in Kosovo accounted for 5 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, of
total public recall.
- Pictures and stories about the refugees leaving Kosovo 26%
- Pictures and stories about the air attacks and damage in Serbia 15%
- Pictures and stories about the victims of violence in Kosovo 25%
- Pictures and stories about the three captured U.S. soldiers 29%
When asked toward the end of the first week of bombing whether Serbian
attacks on civilians in Kosovo were serious enough to justify the air strikes, 65 per cent
said they were. Nearly 70 per cent blamed Serbia for the refugees plight.
Furthermore, by the end of the first week in April, 58 per cent of the public responded
that the Kosovo refugee situation made them "more likely to support Allied military
action." This represents a fairly stable, broad-based level of American public
support for the air campaign, and a clear assignment of blame for the situation and
sympathy for the Albanians.
What about European reactions to the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia?
Available polling data indicate robust European public support - with some exception
- during the opening weeks of the bombing and missile campaign. A multination survey
conducted by the United States Information Agency between March 25 and April 17 is
noteworthy: In response to the question, "Do you support or oppose NATOs
decision to carry out air and missile attacks against Serb military installations?"
respondents in Denmark expressed the strongest support at 74 per cent. All surveyed
countries but Italy expressed majority support for the attacks. Italy was evenly divided
on the question, with 47 per cent both for and against the attacks.
Concern for "mistakes" was balanced by concern for the plight
of Albanian refugees. More than any other factor, the constant stream of refugees and
reports of Serbian atrocities tended to bolster support for the war. According to one
national survey, by the end of April, 61 per cent of the American public supported the
In conclusion, some observers, official and unofficial, Yugoslav and
American, expected media coverage of collateral damage to undermine American and Western
European support for the bombing campaign. In Yugoslavia, this assumption led to overt
efforts to encourage media coverage of bomb damage caused by NATO. Despite coverage of
errant NATO bomb damage, there was only slight evidence of a policy impediment effect. The
presence of a countervailing story line - the ethnic Albanian refugees - negated
the effect of NATO errors.
24. Effective Indignation?
Building Global Awareness, NGOs, and the Enforcement of Norms top
The energy, activism, moral commitment, information and services
stemming from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been a vital factor in the
response to the crisis in Kosovo. Many of the groups were locally based, having been
developed as part of the alternative social and political structures established by
Kosovar Albanians over the past decade. Quite a few were based abroad, but active in the
region for some time. In addition to their utilitarian actions, assisting local
populations, the voices of NGOs interjected into the policy debates have often changed the
international climate regarding the crisis - building a community of concern that has
increasingly pressed for greater international involvement in the crisis. Far from being
"selective indignation," their actions reflect efforts to implement global norms
universally, with an impact that could instead be termed "effective
While calls for international involvement in the crisis were common,
many NGOs left the precise actions they sought undefined, whereas others have gone so far
as to call for the use of force. Several NGOs (such as the Vienna-based International
Helsinki Federation, working with local Balkan affiliates) insisted that the Security
Council endorse any move towards using armed force, taking a legalistic approach opposed
to international armed intervention without the UN Security Councils approval.
Others (such as the Brussels-based International Crisis Group or Boston-based Physicians
for Human Rights) did not cite the UNs role as a necessary prerequisite to deploying
armed force. Instead, they addressed the conflict from a moralistic perspective, seeing an
urgent need for intervention and the use of force to protect human beings, end atrocious
violations of human rights, provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and prevent
genocide. Their views reflect an increasing tendency in the international community
towards two forms of intervention: protecting human rights where they are being trampled,
and intervening in humanitarian emergencies to save lives.
However, there were also many NGOs who stopped short of calling for
armed force, while speaking out for some ill-defined form of international action to aid
or protect the Kosovar Albanian civilian population. (Human Rights Watch is perhaps the
most visible example of the latter, although many humanitarian organizations such as
Medecins sans Frontieres or Mercy Corps fall into this category.) Their indeterminate
response on the issue of force reflects a general reluctance of humanitarian (and even
many human rights) organizations to call publicly for the use of violence or armed force
in international affairs or domestic life. Many of the organizations active in the NGO
sector were firmly committed to non-violence and, while recognizing the need to "do
something," were not prepared institutionally to call for the use of violence.
Instead, they called for strict observance of and compliance with the law -
emphasizing international humanitarian and human rights laws governing treatment of
Many NGOs worked together in this crisis, sharing information, forming
coalitions, emphasizing common concerns and proposing new strategies. NGOs offered
independent information, early warning, and proposals about the protection of civilians
that were often picked up by governments and international bodies as the conflict
Several NGO tactics in the Kosovo crisis are noteworthy, including: (1)
exposing the killings and other abuses (e.g., the humanitarian blockade), thereby
"mobilizing shame"; (2) communicating with decision makers, and often helping
set the agendas of governments, international organizations and the media (Among the
issues pushed most effectively by NGOs were the humanitarian blockade, Serbian
humanitarian centers, Serbian atrocities against ethnic Albanian civilians, the need to
prevent (and respond to) genocide, the need for human rights monitoring and protection
strategies in the field, and NATOs use of cluster bombs.); and (3) delivering
services from, food aid and medical assistance, on the one hand, to conveying information
from local NGOs, on the other.
In summary, the NGO sector influenced, in particular, the information
available to international actors; the timing of responses; the content of Security
Council resolutions on humanitarian and human rights matters; the decision to send
Ambassador Holbrooke to seek the October 98 agreement; the inclusion of a strong human
rights presence in KVM; the Rambouillet negotiations; an emphasis on access for
humanitarian assistance and protection of civilians; and demands for the war crimes
tribunal to have access and be present.
One cannot contend that the NGO community played a decisive role in
influencing the actual decision to employ force. While there were continuing demands from
the NGO sector for "international action," and there was abundant evidence of
atrocious behaviour by Serb forces in Kosovo, there was far less clarity and unity among
NGOs on whether to use force. By and large, calls for use of force came from relatively
few NGOs, with the most public appeals coming from NGOs located outside the region. NGO
positions on the use of force reflected the legal and moral norms they devote themselves
to upholding and enforcing globally, and an aversion to the use of violence in settling
PART SEVEN - FORCE, DIPLOMACY AND THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY top
25. The Inevitability of Selective Response?
Principles to Guide Urgent International Action top
Lori Fisler Damrosch
Is it possible to develop criteria - or even guidelines - for
international intervention in crisis situations? Can we then come closer to
"principled" response, in the dual sense of corresponding to fundamental
moral-legal norms and of treating like cases alike?
Concern with principle and principled application are critical if the
system of international relations is to evolve beyond mere state interest and power
politics toward fulfillment of the aspiration for the rule of law. Critics of
international law complain that a system can hardly qualify as "law" when its
rules are enforced only selectively and only in accordance with the preferences of great
powers (or of the United States as todays preeminent world power). Such criticisms
have been directed against the military intervention in Kosovo. It has been argued
frequently that the interveners have ignored other, at least equally egregious, violations
of human rights and humanitarian law, or that the intervening states (some of them,
anyway) are not free from culpability for oppression of their own ethnic minorities or
from complicity in genocidal conduct or war crimes.
In some domestic societies, it might be a constitutional requirement
(or, at least, an aspiration reflected in law) that the state protect all segments of
society fairly, without favoring the rich or privileged sectors in the allocation of
police forces or other essential services. Similarly, arguments can be mustered in the
discourse of international law to support a moral imperative for states (and, by
extrapolation, the international community) to provide protection on the basis of
substantive justice and equality. Those who urge a "duty to intervene" seek to
shift the terms of debate from the self-interest of the intervenors to a higher moral
plane, in which a common morality prevails over mere interests.
In this far-from-ideal world, it may not be feasible to expect to
achieve anything like principled responses at the international level in the foreseeable
future, at least where the issue concerns military intervention to enforce international
law. It may be inevitable, possibly even preferable, for responses to international crises
to unfold selectively, when those who have the capability to respond also have motivations
for undertaking the burdens of intervention. Scarce resources may need to be allocated in
accordance with the preferences and values of those who are committing the resources. Such
interventions could well prove more effective than unrealistically altruistic ones.
The choice of NATO as the vehicle for intervention in Kosovo indicates
that this was a European response to a European problem, and would not necessarily
prefigure comparable action anywhere outside Europe. Political leaders in the NATO
countries stressed the singularity of the situation rather than its generalizability.
Logistical factors (e.g., the proximity of military bases to the theater of conflict)
could not necessarily be replicated for crises in other regions, even if
"objective" criteria (such as scale of loss of life, or magnitude of violations
of international law) were otherwise equal or even more exigent. The domestic political
support required to sustain the costs or risks of any significant intervention is unlikely
to be forthcoming in the absence of a perception of interest.
This is not to say that we should abandon an aspiration for principled
response to international crises, but simply to acknowledge that for the foreseeable
future selectivity may be inevitable - and more morally justifiable than doing
nothing or doing too little.
26. The Split-Screen War: Kosovo and Changing Concepts of the Use of
The strategic debate in the West for much of the 1990s was shaped by
the 1991 Gulf War. The United States believed that it had hit upon a form of precise,
focused warfare, dependent upon "information dominance," appropriate to the new
conditions of the post-Cold War world. It was possible to render opponents helpless quite
quickly without great sacrifice being required by the American people. The experience of
the Gulf War, and the sense that information technology was still in its infancy,
encouraged talk of a "revolution in military affairs."
One reason for caution was that potential opponents, who were well
aware of the American advantages in the relevant technology and of Iraqs fate,
understood the dangers of engaging the United States in conventional warfare. A prudent
opponent would search for forms of warfare that played to American weakness, notably what
was presumed to be an immobilizing fear of substantial casualties at home and abroad. The
fright caused by Iraqs use of Scud missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia and the
diversion of effort resulting from attempts, largely ineffectual, to mitigate this threat
was taken as a warning of what might be achieved with a more advanced capability. The
prominence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraqi plans encouraged the analysis of how
they might be used against Western forces and societies, and encouraged measures to
prevent their fabrication by other states and even non-state groups.
The importance of this concern can be gauged in the readiness of the
United States and Britain to sustain the sanctions regime against Iraq and mount air raids
specifically designed to enforce UN resolutions on Iraqi biological, chemical and nuclear
capabilities. This culminated in operation Desert Fox of December 1998, when a number of
facilities were attacked out of frustration with Iraqi non-compliance. Another indication
of American concern was an attack on a supposed clandestine chemical weapons factory in
the Sudan in August 1998, following a terrorist outrage against the American embassy in
Nairobi (although this later turned out to be based on faulty intelligence).
With regard to these concerns, one conclusion from Kosovo is entirely
negative. Belgrade gave no hint of any interest in weapons of mass destruction, or even of
terrorist reprisals. Its attempt to expand the war were cursory and unavailing, and
dependent upon the possibility of sympathetic groups in the local population - in
Republika Srspka in Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia. Despite concerns in the West,
populations in all these countries kept relatively calm. This does not mean that we can
dismiss all anxieties as unfounded and irrelevant - the Iraqi case still provides a
powerful counter-example. Kosovo reminds us, however, that the prime strategic concern in
most conflicts is how to acquire and hold disputed territory. Just because Iraq failed so
dramatically in regular combat does not mean that this is the inevitable fate of all
comers against Western forces. It has been argued that if the Iraqis had been less inept
in their use of equipment and amateurish in their tactics, they could have given the
Allies more of a run in 1991, perhaps creating the "killing fields" that would
have led to an outcome more favorable to Iraq.
Yugoslavia, with its tradition of militia war, appeared ready for this
possibility. Indeed, this threat was sufficiently credible in the case of Kosovo for the
NATO countries to avoid fighting directly for the territory in contention. Instead, they
relied on the use of air power. To the surprise of many, this seemed to work. For example,
one of Britains leading military historians, John Keegan, confessed at its
conclusion that he had underestimated the war-winning potential of air power on its own.
Kosovo was a split-screen war. One screen showed a vulnerable people,
barely able to resist a brutal onslaught by a semi-disciplined army using methods not
unfamiliar in this part of Europe during the twentieth century. The other screen showed a
society barely able to resist a systematic, high-tech air campaign, the strategy of choice
for the great powers. The Serbs were defeated on both screens: on the first because their
onslaught generated sufficient resistance so that the prospects of ever pacifying Kosovo
steadily receded; on the second because, while they could cope with air attacks against
their military capabilities, however precise the weapons, they could do little to prevent
the dismantling of their economic infrastructure. On neither screen were we witnessing a
revolution in military affairs.
27. Military History Overturned: Did Air Power Win the War? top
A major conclusion drawn from the study of the use of military power in
the Kosovo conflict was that military power was not used well. This, in turn, was the
result of the fact that, in the main, senior politicians and those who advise them have
not studied the military and the power they deploy, do not understand military power and
appreciate the difficulties associated with its use, and consequently err in using it.
This must be corrected. Too many precious resources are wasted, too much devastation
occurs and, most importantly of all, too many lives are lost because those entrusted with
making decisions on using military power have neither the knowledge nor the skill to do so
A point to be made here is that this criticism applies not only to
civilian politicians and their civilian advisers, but also to their military advisers. In
fact, in some respects, the issue of military advisers is one of the most difficult to
address for both they and those they advise assume they possess knowledge and skills that
they frequently do not. The normal career progression of military officers does not
prepare them well as strategic advisers, being both overly parochial and too narrow.
The way to correct the deficiencies highlighted here is obvious:
politicians and those who advise them must be better educated in this important area. What
is not obvious is how to do this. A starting point would be the acknowledgment by these
senior people that they are deficient in this area. Kosovo, however, shows how difficult
this is. After the cessation of hostilities in June, there was no acknowledgment by senior
NATO politicians and their advisers of their misuse of the awesome firepower they
controlled; there was no reflection on why military power needed to be used at all: and
there were only faint references to the enormous destruction and the huge loss of life
that resulted from their actions.
Instead, the public utterances - and the private, as well -
were almost exclusively of a self-congratulatory nature. As an aside, but one that is
associated with the topic being discussed, senior politicians and their advisers should be
counseled on making categorical statements in the flush of victory. These are seldom as
thoughtful as they should be, being more the product of emotion than of intellect.
Moreover, many of the predictions made in such statements are frequently proven wrong,
often within a very short time.
It can only be through studies such as the current study, of which this
work is a part, that senior people can be made aware of their deficiencies and the damage
that is the outcome. And that damage is not only physical. Of even greater importance in
the long term is the damage done to states, to communities, to societies and to cultures
as the terrible weapons of modern warfare smash not only their physical structures and
institutions but also their psychological and emotional structures and institutions and,
thereby, reconstruct their futures.
Further, thought must go into determining ways in which senior
politicians and their advisers can be better educated in military power with special
emphasis on when and how to use it.
28. Force, Diplomacy and Norms top
The battle over Kosovo operated in two spheres, each of great
significance for future world politics. The obvious sphere was the military encounter: two
kinds of warfare met in an "asymmetric battle," and each showed both its
capacities and its limitations. The NATO powers waged "distance warfare" for
reasons basically political and normative; Belgrade waged "up close and
personal" local warfare for reasons also political, but ethnically based. Despite
Bosnia and the Gulf, the battle can be seen as the first real instance, on the
international plane, of asymmetric warfare. That is, warfare in which the two sides of an
international conflict use forces that are not only different in size and efficiency (as
is often the case) but different in kind and objective. They perhaps establish patterns
for the future.
Paradoxically, however, that asymmetric military encounter produced,
after eight weeks, a common interest between Belgrade and the NATO powers: neither wanted
a land battle in Kosovo. Milosevic did not want it because it would have consumed military
assets he was anxious to conserve. Moreover, NATO preparations for such a battle would
have probably entailed three more months of bombing in Serbia, which would have destroyed
not only domestic economic assets there but also possibly his domestic support. Washington
did not want it because it would have meant some young Americans coming back in body-bags.
The other NATO governments could not afford politically to show less zeal for conserving
the lives of their own troops than Washington did for its troops. Russia, as diplomatic
interviewer or "tertius gaudens," balanced its economic needs vis-ŕ-vis the
West against the retention of a façade of influence in the Balkans, and decided to help
pull Western chestnuts out of the Kosovo fire.
Beneath the military and diplomatic struggles over Kosovo, there was an
even more significant battle of norms. NATO strategy was dominated by a "force
protection" norm, which dictated not only that ground forces should go into a
"permissive environment," but that helicopters should not be used and aircraft
should stay at very high altitudes. There are arguments for assuming that this norm will
be central to the Pentagons future strategic planning, except where truly vital U.S.
interests are involved, and that it will permeate strategic thinking in other NATO forces,
because of the necessity to avoid damaging tensions within the alliance. It has great
implications, some already visible, for the future of war.
Diplomatically, the whole of the crisis-management could be seen as
dominated by the rejection of the Western powers of the old "non-intervention"
norm, dating back to 1648, in favour of the much newer "human rights" norms set
out in the 1948 UN Declaration. That normative shift, although very uneven, is already
shaking the foundations of larger sovereignties than Yugoslavia.
29. Solidarity Versus Geostrategy:
Kosovo and the Dilemmas of International Democratic Culture top
Constrained by the domestic political cultures of its members, NATO
proved itself willing to act in Kosovo, but only in a relatively limited manner and
certainly not at any cost. Indeed, it did not intend to make the protection of human
rights and the demands of the Kosovar Albanians the sole and ultimate criterion for its
deliberations, decisions and actions. The best that NATO was willing to do was to address
and try to solve the problems on the ground within the military and political parameters
shaped by three main dilemmas.
The first of these dilemmas was the need to extend international
solidarity while preserving, as much as possible, the lives of the national and NATO
personnel involved in the military intervention. The balance between these two goals
proved to be difficult to strike. It led to the adoption of a high-altitude air strike
campaign as the strategy for intervention in Kosovo, then mainly designed to undermine
Serb military capabilities while NATO personnel sustained only low risk. This left the
Albanian population of Kosovo unprotected during the campaign.
Striking the right balance between protecting human rights, at the risk
of abetting and endorsing national partition, and continuing to uphold the principles of
national integrity and national sovereignty as two cornerstones of the international
system presented a second dilemma. Some of the debates which took place before the
military intervention - for example, during the negotiations at Rambouillet in
February and during the air strike campaign itself - on how appropriate it was to
support the Kosovo Liberation Army, had to do with this dilemma.
More generally, and embracing the two dilemmas described above, the
leading members of NATO had to weigh, very often under the pressure exercised by unfolding
events and without much time to reflect, the political and normative appropriateness of
being either too conservative or too progressive in handling their actions. What was at
stake in this weighing and evaluation process was not only the fate of the Albanian
population of Kosovo. It was also the standing and reputation of the major democratic
countries involved in the NATO operation, and the credibility of NATO itself. Ultimately,
it was a matter of setting the tone for the years to come, one undertaken with cognizance
of the implications that these decisions and actions could have on the future of the
Are the democratic dilemmas, which now shape the debates, modalities
and scope of international solidarity, likely to become the standard basis for future
international deliberations and actions? Or are they signs of an emerging and nascent
international culture? And, if so, what is it like?
At this point, it is difficult to say how these questions will be
answered, and thus in which directions international life is likely to go in the coming
years. It will thus suffice to note that, in addressing the democratic dilemmas of
international action without transcending them, international organizations, whether NATO
or the United Nations, are merely reflecting and crystallizing the plurality of
motivations, of imperatives, and ultimately of legitimacies and loyalties which inhabit
political contemporary life. In their deliberations, resolutions and actions,
international organizations are incorporating and then projecting the orders and disorders
of the contemporary world. They are echoing both the resistance to change and the demands
for change and, as such are participating, hesitantly and only half-willingly, in the
transformation of international life.
With the ambiguities and tensions it entails, this situation is not
satisfactory to anyone eager to see the implementation of an international landscape
characterized by a sense of total reconciliation. Despite the fact that international
action is taking place within the constraints of the dilemmas mentioned above, this should
be seen as a positive step, certainly compared to a world in which these dilemmas would be
disregarded altogether and in which mere national interest considerations and raw power
would be the sole criterion of deliberation and action at the international level. One
could argue that these dilemmas, as parts of the elements shaping deliberations and
actions, are perhaps a sign of a growing integration and socialization of the
30. The Good International Citizen and the Crisis in Kosovo top
New forms of political community have emerged in Western Europe. They
have been described as post-national or post-sovereign states, which appear to have
abolished war between themselves. Inevitably, the question arises of how they should
behave towards states which are committed to a nationalist project that results in
genocide and ethnic cleansing. In particular, the question arises of what it means to be a
good international citizen when dealing with states that are at war with sections of their
There are at least four answers to this question.
A statist response argues that states should respect the sovereign
independence of others, as required by Article 2, paragraph 7, of the United Nations
Charter. This is the position that was taken by Russia and China during the Kosovo crisis.
The question is whether this response is available to liberal-democratic states that
maintain they are committed to human rights. Inaction in the face of human rights
atrocities leaves such states open to the charge that they are not being true to their own
A modified statist response accepts that there is a responsibility to
respect sovereignty and adds that there are dangers that more harm may be caused than
prevented by breaching national sovereignty. Yet states cannot stand by while other states
violate the human rights of their own populations. Modified statism looks to economic and
diplomatic pressure to bring about changes in regimes that fail to comply with
international conventions on human rights. But such a position is open to the charge that
its response to human rights violations may be ineffective, and that a genuine commitment
to protecting human rights may require a resort to force in exceptional circumstances.
A legalist position accepts the logic of this argument, but points out
that international law does not entitle states to engage in humanitarian war. The resort
to force to prevent violations elsewhere is legitimate only if all permanent members of
the UN Security Council consent to such action. The good international citizen cannot act
without that consent, even though inaction means that human rights violations will
A moralist or cosmopolitan position argues that international relations
privilege the rights of states over the rights of individuals. The Great Power veto has
the same effect. International law needs to move away from its statist roots when faced
with regimes guilty of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The good international citizen
should be prepared to engage in humanitarian war to protect distant strangers and to force
the international community to consider how best to change international law.
Perhaps Western Europe could argue that it wishes to create a regional
international system in which the principle of sovereignty is no longer sacrosanct -
in which case, non-European societies need not fear that their sovereignty will be
infringed. But there are two problems with this argument: where does Europe begin and end,
and is the form of regional exceptionalism which is suggested here compatible with the
universalism of human rights? Arguably, the principle of sovereignty has to be challenged
everywhere or nowhere at all.
The good international citizen therefore faces a painful dilemma. To
respect sovereignty is to be complicitous in human rights violations; to rely on economic
sanctions and diplomatic pressure - and to argue that the UN Security Council must
give its consent to humanitarian war - is to be accused of failing to act decisively
against violent regimes. To use force unilaterally is to be accused of violating
international law and of setting unfortunate precedents.
Perhaps the dilemma can be overcome by trying to promote an
international consensus about the point at which a state forfeits its sovereignty. Perhaps
it can be overcome by efforts to remove the great power veto in exceptional circumstances,
so that the support of a majority of the great powers is all that is required to permit
states to engage in humanitarian war. It is unclear whether the society of states is
prepared to take such steps, although pressures to move in this direction can be expected
to continue. Without such international agreements, good international citizens may be
tempted - and may come under pressure from their domestic populations - to go it
alone. While it is hard to condemn them if they do, it is also hard to support their
efforts other than in the most extreme circumstances and assuming that the use of force
will not cause more problems than it solves. top
Forthcoming, Summer 2000:|
Kosovo and the Challenge of Humanitarian Intervention:
Selective Indignation, Collective Action, and International Citizenship
Edited by Albrecht Schnabel and Ramesh Thakur
UNU Press ISBN92-808-1050-2 c. 450 pp. Paper US$39.95
"This volume is an extraordinarily rich contribution to the necessary debate about
the Kosovo War. The editors have brought together a varied group of talented specialists
who approach the difficult subject-matter of humanitarian intervention from many angles. I
find this book to be the most illuminating overall assessment of Kosovo that is currently
available, and indispensable for anyone who wants to understand world order since the fall
of the Berlin Wall."
- Richard A. Falk Princeton University