Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kosovo Lessons

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kosovo Lessons

Article excerpt

The hardest stage in Kosovo - building a stable, long-term peace - is just beginning. As NATO leaders face this challenge, they also need to plan better ways to deal with future large-scale human-rights crises.

The challenges of peace-building in Kosovo are rapidly becoming evident. The undermanned KFOR peacekeeping forces are increasingly caught in the middle, as ethnic Albanians seek to terrorize the province's remaining ethnic Serb civilians. An indiscriminate urge for vengeance seems to dominate the motives of many ethnic-Albanian gunmen. NATO leaders' hopes of building a stable, multiethnic democracy in Kosovo now look distinctly tattered.

I hate to say "I told you so" at such a tragic point. But in two columns this year, I warned that NATO's resort to massive military escalation would signal to local Kosovo actors that military might can define "right." The forces loyal to Slobodan Milosevic and now the ethnic Albanian irregulars both seem to have learned that lesson. It's hard to see what KFOR can do to prevent Kosovo's descent into warring ethnic enclaves.

It wasn't just the degree of force NATO used that was destabilizing. It was the way that force was brought to bear. By limiting itself to air power, NATO was incapable of providing the actual protection the ethnic Albanians needed in Kosovo during the crucial weeks of Mr. Milosevic's massive genocide against them. He and the other perpetrators of the genocide remain responsible for their actions.

But NATO leaders must acknowledge that although all of us knew what Milosevic was capable of, no one had assembled a viable protection force before the West threw down the gauntlet. The strength of NATO's inhibition against incurring pilot casualties multiplied the problems. It forced NATO pilots to fly at heights from which few strikes against the Yugoslav military had any chance of success. Rather than sticking to military targets, NATO bombed many other facilities that were, at best, "dual-use," but in many cases civilian in function. …

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