NATO's objective in Kosovo is not only the assurance of security
and safety for the traumatized population but also the construction
of a multiparty democracy.
In effect, whether NATO leaders admit it or not, the alliance is
engaged in the process of state-building. But can NATO succeed,
given its mandate and experience?
For clues about Kosovo's immediate future under the international
umbrella, it's useful to examine NATO's mission in post-Dayton
Despite some similarities, such as Belgrade's military aggression
and popular demands for independence, there are significant
differences between the two places.
Bosnia was deliberately ethnically divided and partitioned into
three national entities during the 3-1/2-year war. All three ethnic
ethnic groups - Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats felt they had a right
a majority in their own portion of Bosnia. Before, during, and after
the war, each group became susceptible to nationalist manipulation
promoting ethnic separation and "purification" on the pretext of
defending their supposedly endangered national interests.
In Kosovo, by contrast, the ethnic Albanian population constitutes
the overwhelming majority, while Serbs are a minority. Furthermore,
the Belgrade regime has engaged in wholesale expulsion and mass
murder rather than resettlement. It has fostered ethnic division at
the city level rather than at any territorial level. Hence, Kosovo
has not been partitioned into ethnic cantons. With the return of
ethnic Albanians, the prewar demographic structure will be largely
The NATO operation in Bosnia failed to ensure the return of the
majority of refugees to their pre-war homes.
Only a few thousand out of 2 million expellees have actually
ventured across the inter-entity lines drawn up under the Dayton
accords. Indeed, Dayton rewarded ethnic division by allowing for the
existence of an autonomous Serb republic within Bosnia.
In Kosovo, NATO has been determined to return all refugees to
their homes and to prevent any kind of ethnic partition of the
territory. This will clearly reassure ethnic Albanians that the
international community is committed to an independent territory and
opposes ethnic division.
In Bosnia the majority of Serbian war criminals were allowed to
roam free and to profit from their crimes. But, now, international
bodies must vigorously pursue such criminals whether inside or
Political conditions in Kosovo are in many respects simpler.
In Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic, the perpetrators of genocide
remained in control after Dayton was signed, even though a handful
Serb leaders were indicted as war criminals.
By contrast, the Serb armed forces have fled Kosovo and have no
base of political power. Even the remaining Serb civilians in Kosovo
are unlikely to support President Slobodan Milosevic. The Belgrade
clique led them into war and then abandoned them just as it did with
Croatia's Krajina Serbs.
Whereas the major nationalist parties sought the partition of
Bosnia, in Kosovo a multiplicity of ethnic Albanian political
already exists and none of them favor ethnic expulsion or partition. …