GLOBAL ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT
NO EXIT FOR NATO'S CURRENT STRATEGY
By Carl Bildt
STOCKHOLM -- More than two weeks ago, NATO launched its air war against Yugoslavia "to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.'' whatever else can be said about the air war, it has very clearly failed to fulfill this its declared first objective.
When NATO attacked from the air, the Yugoslav forces attacked massively on the ground. And far from averting a humanitarian disaster, the NATO air war has become part of an escalation that has led to a tragedy of unspeakable dimensions.
This should have been foreseen. But around key capitals, there was the belief that President Slobodan Milosevic would throw in the towel after the first strikes and sign on to the Rambouillet agreement without further ado. The NATO operation was supposed to be another exercise of diplomacy by cruise missiles and CNN.
But failure was programmed into the strategy. NATO's military response was geared to minimizing the risks to its own pilots and soldiers, but by doing so, it maximized the risks to the Kosovo Albanians that NATO was supposed to protect.
While NATO aircraft were executing high-altitude nighttime attacks, the innocent civilians were left defenseless against the daylight terror on the ground of Serb paramilitary groups as the war between the Yugoslav Army and the Kosovo Albanian forces dramatically escalated.
Prior to the onset of the air war, I, among others,
warned of the
Having lost the first round of the war, and failed in
The No. 1 issue now must not be how to relocate these hundreds of thousands of desperate people around the world. They do not want to go to faraway countries of which they know little -- they want to return to their homes in the country that is theirs.
But there is simply no way that goal can be achieved
by an air campaign alone. Even if the Yugoslav army were to be bombed
into total disarray, Kosovo would not be safe. Indeed, roaming
NATO cannot use a policy of systematic destruction of
infrastructure in the rest of Serbia to compensate for its failure
Thus, NATO must now immediately prepare for a forced entry into Kosovo. A ground offensive will certainly be demanding and difficult, although initial organized resistance is likely to be limited. An air campaign can never defeat an army -- but it can thoroughly demoralize it.
But this ground offensive will only be the beginning
of a long
There is no longer any exit strategy for NATO available
With the first phase of the war lost, the NATO nations must also start to address the long-term political issues of the entire region. Kosovo is not an island of war in a region of peace. Increasingly, there are storm signals in the entire region south of Slovenia and north of Greece.
The political coalition between Russia, on the one hand,
NATO can not be allowed to loose a war with Milosevic
over the future of Kosovo. But there are scant prospects of present operations
alone averting that development. The plight of those
(c) 1999, NPQ. Distributed by the Los Angeles Times