US Conservatives cite Kosovo failureJan 27, 2000
WASHINGTON - NATOs defeat of Serb forces in Kosovo was an empty victory with results so far "just shy of a full-blown public fiasco," says an assessment of the conflict by primarily conservative scholars and analysts.
In the book of essays, they propose a partitioning of Kosovo and a stronger European security role.
Published by Cato Institute, a research foundation that advocates free enterprise and limited government, "NATOs Empty Victory: A Postmortem of the Balkan War" says NATO has become the "baby sitter of the Balkans."
The conflict led to increased bloodshed on both sides, further destabilised the Balkans, set dangerous precedents for the wielding of US presidential power and strained relations with Russia and China, the authors conclude.
"The United States and its allies technically may have achieved a military victory against Yugoslavia, but it is an empty victory," said Catos Ted Galen Carpenter, editor of the compilation that was introduced at a forum Thursday.
The analyses contrast with upbeat Clinton administration assessments of the air campaign that drove Serbs out of the province and allowed ethnic Albanians to return under UN protection eight months ago. Clinton and other NATO officials describe it as a strong humanitarian victory.
"Now we care about one another in ways we never did before," Clinton said in summing up the impact of NATOs Kosovo liberation.
Relations with China, strained when US planes accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, also are on the mend, officials say.
Administration officials, however, have acknowledged a daunting task in dealing with continuing ethnic conflict in Kosovo, still protected by 50,000 NATO-led troops, and elsewhere in the Balkans. Also, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power and is wanted for trial by an international war crimes tribunal.
The Cato report says the transformation of NATO from "an alliance to defend the territory of its members to an ambitious crisis-management organization has profound and disturbing implication for the United States."
One positive result that may emerge from the conflict, writes Jonathan G. Clarke, a former British diplomat on a research fellowship at Cato, could be a realization that Europe has to assume more responsibility for its own defenses.
Clarke notes, however, that despite positive rhetoric from European governments, their defense budgets continue to decline. He called for more US pressure on Europe to step up defense commitments.
John J. Mearsheimer, a University of Chicago scholar on international security policy, wrote that despite its military victory, NATO is in a "political no-win situation" in Kosovo and proposed partitioning the province, creating an independent Albanian Kosovo state.
"Does anyone seriously believe that the Albanian Kosovars and the Serbs can live together again after all the bloodletting?" Mearsheimer wrote.
Only three alternatives remain, he said: endless ethnic conflict and retribution, Serb cleansing of Albanians or Albanian cleansing of Serbs.
"Partition is clearly better than any of those unacceptable choices," Mearsheimer said.
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