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by Edward Luttwak
-- from THE TELEGRAPH, London
[Edward Luttwak is a member of the National Security Study Group of the
US Department of Defence].

"We will keep bombing until Milosevic steps down", insisted your Prime
Minister [Tony Blair of the UK] last week. He was instantly corrected by
Jamie Shea, Nato's [sic! US] spokesman: "We will keep bombing," he
stressed, until Milosevic backs down". The tumble over terminology
identifies a fundamental fissure in Nato - a fissure running through 
not just the means to be employed in the war, but what the point of it

When the war began, Nato's aims were clear and limited. The aim of the
war was not an independent Kosovo, or the overthrow of President 
Milosevic, the man now routinely referred to as the Butcher of the
Balkans, the new Hitler, and a genocidal war criminal. It was, in fact, 
to reinforce Milosevic's position within Serbia.

The United States, led by Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State,
persuasively argued that only Milosevic could deliver an agreement on
Kosovo. The Serbian opposition was and is much more determined to hold
onto Kosovo, at whatever cost, than he is. If Milosevic was to be able to
sign the Rambouillet agreement, which the Kosovar Albanians had ratified, he
would have to have the excuse that he had no alternative. Nato bombing
would, it was thought, be enough to show the Serbs that their President
had "no alternative".

The limited aim of an autonomous, but not independent, Kosovo - a Kosovo
with its own law-courts, but without its own army or Foreign Ministry -
had a series of very clear and specific implications for the means by
which Nato was to fight the war. First, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)
was not to be armed or trained. Second, the force used against Serbia
should be deployed in a very measured way. Its point was not to destroy
Milosevic, but to persuade him back to the negotiating table. Far from 
being regarded as an enemy of humanity, he was believed, when the war
started, to be an indispensible figure to Nato: for he was the only Serb politician
capable of resolving the Kosovo question on Nato's lines.

There was, therefore, no question of attacking Milosevic's apparatus of
power or his political infrastructure, still less his person. So Nato's
plan of attack was extremely gentle. There were less than 50 targets on 
the original first phase bombing offensive. Most of them were minor,
remote air defence targets. If you wondered why, in the first two weeks, all those
bombing missions were cancelled because of a few clouds, here's the
reason: the aim was not to hurt Milosevic, but to give him an excuse for
capitulating to Nato on Kosovo. That aim suited Western politicians
perfectly for another reason: none of them wanted to see any of their
pilots get hurt. A campaign which did no real damage to Serbia would 
also beone which did not risk the lives of any Nato pilots.

"War lite" was therefore to everyone's taste. Unfortunately, Milosevic
refused to walk down the path Nato made out for him. Instead of rushing
into Nato's open arms, he sent his police units into Kosovo and 
proceeded to evict as many Kosova Albanians as possible,as quickly as he
could. Milosevic's failure to behave according to plan has caused a 
rapid re-appraisal of Nato's war aims. It has also dramatically altered
the means which must be used to achieve them.

What is the aim of the war now the original justification for it, and
the strategy behind it, have both been shredded? Nato has started 
bombing Milosevic's power base. It has targeted his home, his TV station,
and his party's headquarters. But let us be clear: the change of 
tactics has not come about because politicians like Clinton and Blair 
have suddenly "discovered" that Milosevic is guilty of genocide. 
Everyone with any involvement in policy towards the Balkans has known for
years that Milosevic was guilty of mass murder. His behaviour in Kosovo,
though hideous, is so far relatively mild compared to the genocide he 
perpetrated in Bosnia. There is some evidence that he over-ruled some 
of the real ultras who recommended the "Bosnian solution" to the Kosovo
problem: massacring all Kosova Albanians, rather than just expelling 
them, which has been Milosevic's policy.

No, the targetting of Milosevic is simply a reflection of frustration at
his failure to act as he was supposed to. It is a familiar pattern: a
dictator is demonised as a monster only when Western foreign policy fails,
and he ceases to respond in a predictable way to threats and offers. It
happened with Saddam, with whom the US and Britain were happy to "do 
business" when he behaved as predicted - despite his hideous cruelty 
and use of chemical weapons against his own people. Only when statecraft
failed, and he did something quite unpredicted - invaded Kuwait - was 
he turned into "the new Hitler".

The motives behind targetting Milosevic are no more "moral" than they
were in the case of Saddam. Nato's aims are in disarray as a consequence.
Everyone recognises that Milosevic remains the least horrible Serbian
leader amongst a very horrible bunch. Removing him would make the 
situation worse, by ensuring he was replaced by a harder line nationalist.
So what is the aim of the war?

There are two competing answers to that question. One is the creation of
an independent Kosovo. This could not be done without a full scale 
invasion by Nato. It does not seem very likely. A Nato which is 
unwilling to fly planes below 15,000 ft because of the risk to its pilots'
lives is not going to risk the deaths of thousands of ground troops. 
That aim is opposed by some Nato members, and does not yet have US
backing. Without the US, it will remain a gleam in Tony Blair's eye.

The other alternative is much more likely. It is to persuade Milosevic
to agree to some compromise. The hope is that the bombing, if it is 
intense enough, will force Milosevic to turn to the Russians, empowering
them to negotiate a settlement with Nato. Any deal would inevitably 
involve the partition of Kosovo, with the Serbians hanging on to the
resource-rich north, whilst the south would be an international
"protectorate" run by a mixed force of Nato, Russians, and "non aligned"

That would, of course, be a victory for Milosevic. But that does not
stop many Nato leaders from fervently praying for it. It would allow 
Nato to exit the war with some dignity intact: it could be "spun" to
suggest that Nato had achieved a homeland for the Kosovars and peace in
the Balkans.

A great power congress to solve Kosovo would be like the great 19th
century congress of Berlin, which re-drew the map of Europe. It would 
not havemuch to do with ethics. But then no foreign policy ever does. It
is the greatest of your present Government's illusions, or its most
chilling cynicism, to retend that its foreign policy is, or could be, 
any different.

* Edward Luttwak is a member of the National Security Study Group of the
US Department of Defence.

[AGF editorial comment: How much does this Pentagon opinion reflect
dismay and disunity  within the US military, and how much does its
planting and publication in the UK's major conservative newspaper
reflect an attempt to get the Tony super-hawk off the back of the
more reluctant Bill hawk?]

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