War over Kosovo: Politics and Strategy in a Global Age

By Wormley, Michael A. | Military Review, May-June 2003 | Go to article overview

War over Kosovo: Politics and Strategy in a Global Age


Wormley, Michael A., Military Review


Andrew J. Bacevich and Eliot A. Cohen, eds., Columbia University press, NY, 2001, 223 pages, $22.50

What is the only shooting war that NATO has fought? Has America ever fought a war without a combat casualty? Has America ever fought a war without a bona fide military hero emerging7 Has America ever fought a war for primarily humanitarian reasons? War Over Kosovo answers all of these questions and more.

The review of the facts surrounding the 1999 U.S.-led NATO air war is useful, but the beauty of the book is its insightful analysis of the grand security strategy implications for the United States and the world. War Over Kosovo is a compendium of seven erudite national strategy thinkers. The authors' unifying proposition is that the Kosovo war is worthy of study because of the implications it holds for the "way developed countries will wage war in years to come." Their predictive analysis is accurate when viewed in light of the current war against global terrorism.

Essayist William Arkin begins the study with a thorough narrative and analysis of the predominantly air campaign. His discourse on the problems of near-instantaneous information and its effect on decisionmaking highlight his analysis. He recounts the delicate decisionmaking among the NATO coalition's high conmand and the reservation of a critical targeting decision at the U.S. National Command Authority level.

Eliot Cohen discusses the real disconnect between U.S. Cold War doctrine and the new way of war evident in the Kosovo campaign. He also reviews the phenomenon of casualty sensitivity plus an imbalance in U.S. high-level civil-military relations.

James Kurth postulates effectively that the Kosovo war was the first campaign in a new U.S. global grand strategy. He sees a grand strategy that portends a rise in new types of institutional ideological objectives rather than traditional security and economic objectives. He cautions against this new type of strategy, asserting that the Kosovo war was thrice flawed because it was fought to enlarge NATO, was justified as a humanitarian campaign, and essentially disregarded Russia and China. …

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