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NATOs Actions In Kosovo Essay Research Paper

NATO?s Actions In Kosovo Essay, Research Paper NATO?s Actions in Kosovo Contravened International Law On Wednesday 24th March 1999 NATO Chief Javier Solana ordered air strikes on Serbian troops. These soldiers were in their sovereign country and in an area was known as Kosovo.

NATO?s Actions In Kosovo Essay, Research Paper

NATO?s Actions in Kosovo

Contravened International Law

On Wednesday 24th March 1999 NATO Chief Javier Solana ordered air strikes on Serbian troops. These soldiers were in their sovereign country and in an area was known as Kosovo.

In this essay I will discuss how the situation arose and what were the real aims of this action.

The Serbian province of Kosovo has long been regarded as the most volatile region in all of the former Yugoslavia.

Serbian authorities abolished Kosovo’s parliament in 1990, forcing the region’s political leaders to seek refuge in the Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, where they declared Kosovo’s independence. However, the underground government of Ibrahim Rugova, elected in May 1992, was declared illegal by the Serbian government.

Albanians in Kosovo continued to agitate for secession from Serbia, seeking either annexation to Albania or outright independence, and tensions mounted between Albanians and Serbs. In August 1995 Kosovo became the destination of several thousand Serb refugees from the Krajina region of Croatia; Krajina had been recaptured by Croatian military forces after several years of Serb occupation. The government of Albania protested the resettlement of Serbs in the predominantly Albanian region.

In 1996 a militant ethnic Albanian separatist group called the Kosovo Liberation Army formed in the region. Albanian separatists reportedly killed several Serbian police officers in February 1998, tensions exploded between Albanians and Serbian forces, resulting in numerous killings, beatings, and arrests of Albanians by Serbian police and Yugoslav military units. Despite threats of sanctions by the international community, the Yugoslav government continued to raze villages, killing more than 200 people by June 1998 and driving thousands across the border into neighbouring Albania.

The Serbian Army had been brutally imposing a scorched earth policy on the Kosovan Albanians who after the end of the Balkan troubles wanted there own country.

But the diplomacy over Kosovo quickly grew much more complicated. Unlike Bosnia, which was internationally recognised as a sovereign country, Kosovo was still considered a part of Serbia. Any NATO intervention in Kosovo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia?s wishes might be taken as an act of war. Several NATO governments concluded the alliance could not act in the province without a mandate from the UN Security Council. Russia, meanwhile, was threatening to use its Security Council veto to block such approval.

The six-country Contact Group?a panel responsible for monitoring events in the territories of the former Yugoslavia and comprising France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States?quickly convened to coordinate peace-making efforts, as it had done earlier for Bosnia. Richard Holbrooke, the tough-talking U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnia peace agreement in Dayton, Ohio, was called into duty again to negotiate a Kosovo deal. The United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies threatened to intervene. ?I assure you,? declared NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, ?we will not tolerate another war like the one in Bosnia. The international community will not allow that to happen.?

The last chance of peace vanished with the departure of Holbrooke from Belgrade after fruitless talks with the Yugoslav president Slobodan Miloseviv calling for the withdrawal of his troops. Before leaving to brief the NATO council in Brussels, Holbooke said the situation was ?the bleakest since we began this effort almost four years ago.?

President Clinton prepared the United States for military action, saying that it was justified to end ?the thirst of Slobodan Milosevic to dominate and crush? the people of the region.

And so NATO started a campaign against the Serbian forces in Kosovo.

The main stance that is in the public eyes and what was mainly portrayed was that NATO was intervening for ethnic reason. Prime Minister Blair used the plight of the Kosovar civilians to justify military action. Air strikes would be launched ?to save thousand of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe, from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing by a brutal dictatorship?.

He said that 250,000 Kosovars were homeless with 60,000 forced to leave home in the last month and he raised the spectre of the war spreading.

?If Kosovo was left to the mercy of Serbian repression there is not merely a risk but a high probability of re-igniting unrest in Albania; Macedonia destabilised, almost certain knock on effects in Bosnia and further tension between Greece and Turkey. There are strategic interests for the whole of Europe at stake. We cannot contemplate, on the doorstep of the EU, a disintegration into chaos and disorder.?

One of the first things that should be considered is under international law Serbia is a sovereign state, of which Kosovo is a province. (The same as the UK and Northern Ireland.) At no point in NATO doctrine does it state that NATO should or could interfere in the domestic affairs of any state, no matter how disgustingly its government may treat its own people.

?The North Atlantic Treaty? begins with the injunction that its parties ?reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.?

Article 1 declares ? The parties undertake, as set forth in the charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means, in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.?

The intervention of NATO thus contravened both the United Nations Charter and the North Atlantic Treaty itself.

This ?power? to enter or attack another countries armed forces must come from the United Nations. As usual the United Nations were taking far to long to make a decision, a resolution, to start an armed response to the ethnic cleansing problem occurring in Kosovo. But the United Nations had other problems as this battle within this sovereign state was, simply a civil war.

An analogy to America’s own bitter war of secession can illustrate what NATO was trying to compel Serbia to do. It was as if the nineteenth-century concert of Europe had forced President Lincoln to accept Southern independence and European troops on American soil to police the agreement, and had threatened to intervene militarily in support of the Confederate Army if Lincoln refused. After all, the unprecedentedly murderous American Civil War appalled Europeans just as much as the Kosovo conflict did to the Western leaders. And just as Europeans believed that North American “stability” (and access to Southern cotton) was vital to their prosperity, so Western policy-makers today are convinced that European stability is essential to the America?s and the European Communities economic well-being. (Of course, the social systems defended in Kosovo and the American South are not of parallel.) ?The North Atlantic Treaty? begins with the injunction that its parties ?reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.?

Article 1 declares ? The parties undertake, as set forth in the charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means, in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.?

The intervention of NATO thus contravened both the United Nations Charter and the North Atlantic Treaty itself.

Since NATO has become redundant since the collapse of the cold war it could be asked was this a ruse by the strong Western Powers (UK and USA) to give NATO a boost. But this was very dangerous as opposition to NATO’s attacks and its expansion was probably the one major foreign policy issue on which virtually the entire Russian political class was and is united. NATO, after all, was supposedly designed as a defensive alliance to repel a military attack on its member states, but in Kosovo it radically extended its writ by intervening in a state unconnected to it. Furthermore, from Moscow’s perspective, NATO, by bringing its powerful military alliance to Russia’s borders, had reneged on a bargain it struck with Russia at the end of the cold war.

At that time Moscow agreed to quit Eastern Europe and to allow German unification. Moreover, Russia acceded to the continued existence of an alliance that had been hostile to it and even agreed to the inclusion of newly unified Germany in that alliance. In return, Moscow received assurances from the United States and its allies that they would not take advantage of this situation to tip the geopolitical balance in a way that would potentially threaten Russia’s security.

Russians had good reasons to worry about NATO expansion, which, as Clinton and Blair acknowledged, was a means to consolidate and extend the UK?s and more so America’s military and political leadership in Europe. Great powers have always been more concerned about competitors’ capabilities than about their intentions–because intentions can change quickly. In the post-cold war era, NATO remains the most powerful military alliance the world has ever seen. Even those Russians who are not closet aggressors are anxious about having such an impressive military association poised on their frontier. NATO’s expansion, coupled with its intervention in cases in which the alliance’s security is not threatened, could lead to a nationalist backlash.

Another factor in NATO intervening in Kosovo was that, I feel, certain Western powers were funding and training the Kosovo Liberation Army. The US and the West has no qualms by being allied with what the US envoy, Robert Gelbard, in early 1998 called a terrorist organisation, namely the KLA or UCK. It had built its military capacity on weapons, ammunition and training supplied by various Western sources; it had been given political legitimacy in Rambouillet through the embrace of the US and UK; it also served as NATO’s ally on the ground during the bombardments. It was obvious that the KLA were loosing the war against the Serbian forces. Those Western powers needed to shift the military balance.

When president Clinton gave his explanation of the Kosovo conflict’s background was, to put it charitably, misleading. He glossed over the fact that the province of Kosovo (the cradle of Serbia’s cultural and national identity) is an integral part of Serbia’s sovereign territory. Far from being a case of one state committing aggression against another, the conflict was, of course, a civil war, the root of which is the province’s ethnic Albanians’ armed struggle to break free of Serbia and establish an independent state. Thus, as in numerous ethnic conflicts in the Balkans and elsewhere, the opposing sides’ objectives could not be reconciled.

He was also misleading in placing sole blame for the breakdown of the recent NATO-brokered Rambouillet peace talks on the Serbs. The ethnic Albanians also refused at first to sign the NATO peace deal, because it failed to guarantee their eventual independence from Serbia. The United States finally induced them to sign by threatening to cut off the Kosovo Liberation Army’s access to arms and by reminding the KLA that without its assent to the agreement, NATO could not conduct airstrikes against Serbia. When KLA intransigence initially stalled the talks, US officials–especially Secretary of State Madeleine Albright–were palpably frustrated because they feared that their plans to bomb Serbia would be derailed.

The President’s description of the peace process also left out some important details. Essentially, the Serbs, who were given the choice of signing or being bombed, were “negotiating” with a gun at their heads. They saw the Rambouillet deal as one-sided because, although the plan provided that Kosovo would nominally remain a part of Serbia for three years, it also would have reduced the Serbian government’s actual control over the province to a nullity. Of course, the plan ostensibly would have disarmed the KLA in Kosovo, but because that group can operate out of neighboring Albania, it could have stockpiled weapons there. In fact, the KLA made its intentions quite clear: After the three-year transitional period, either Kosovo would become independent, or the KLA would resume the war. Furthermore, Serbia resented the provisions of the peace plan that would have required Belgrade to accept the presence of NATO forces in Kosovo. The West supports illegal arms exports. The arming of KLA can only have taken place by violating the arms embargo against all parts of former Yugoslavia decided by the UN Security Council in 1991.

In conclusion, moral foreign policy without moral responsibility is the decider in the use of powerful western countries legitimate cover called NATO. Quite a few of us were brought up with the norm that ‘I am responsible for what I do.’ Scores of NATO’s violations of international law, the laws of war, of human rights etc. during its bombing campaign have been justified with reference to there being a grand plan of ethnic cleansing, to stopping the atrocities, to fighting a cruel dictator, and with arguments that ‘if we do not counter and stop this now, it will be much worse later.’ The general discussion has not focussed on the crimes committed by NATO, neither on the political legitimacy of ignoring this predictable civil war for years and wait to do something until this something ‘has to be’ NATO intervention. A norm has thus been used which in effect says that ‘I am not responsible for my own deeds because I am fighting someone who is worse.’ Paradoxically all warlords and architects of ethnic cleansing, in ex-Yugoslavia and elsewhere use the same norm!

Humanitarian concerns were hardly credible. NATO’s action released a humanitarian catastrophe. The international ‘community’ let Macedonia and Albania carry 98% ( ) of the burden, and relieved itself of the frightening perspective of having the refugees flood EU Europe. The US – generously – suggested that it could take 20.000 and store them on its military base…in Cuba! Today the world is struggling with finding the resources for aid and reconstruction and will be very tempted to take it from funds earmarked for humanitarian relief where there are fewer cameras. The average Albanian refugee in Macedonia and Albania already got about 10 times more relief aid than the African or Serb refugee.( )

It could also be said that NATO’s needed to act to preserve its credibility. NATO argued that to let Serbian aggression go unpunished it would encourage leaders in other troubled areas to pursue dangerous policies. But halting Serbian aggression was no more likely to deter future aggressors than Western actions in the Gulf, which, after all, was defended as part of a new world order that would punish aggressors. In the world of statecraft, most crises are discrete, not tightly linked. The outcome of events in other potential hot spots would be decided by local conditions, not by what the NATO or the UN did or did not do in the Balkans. Put another way, just as Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was not deterred by Allied forces action against Iraq; Saddam Hussein was not deterred by US action in Panama; Ho Chi Minh was not deterred by US action against North Korea; and Kim Il Sung and Joseph Stalin were not deterred by US and British action against Adolf Hitler. The West?s? misplaced obsession with credibility will doom itself to a string of military interventions in strategically peripheral regions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.iwpr.net

http://www.megastories.com/kosovo/index.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/kosovo/kosovo.htm

“News Analysis: The Crisis in Kosovo ,” Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 99. 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation.

The Times

The Telegraph

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