The following is the text of the remarks by Jim Jatras, a policy analyst, given at
     CATO Institute on 5/18/99 at the conference: "NATO's Balkan War: Finding an
     Honorable Exit".    
     Let me state at the outset that my remarks here today do not represent any Senate office or
     member. Rather, I am giving my professional judgement as a policy analyst and my personal
     opinion, for both of which I am solely responsible.
     The rationale for U.S. intervention in Kosovo and for assistance to the Kosovo Liberation Army is
     easily stated. It goes something like this:
     The current crisis in Kosovo is simply the latest episode in the aggressive drive by extreme Serbian
     nationalism, orchestrated by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, to create an ethnically pure
     Greater Serbian state. This aggression -- first in Slovenia, then in Croatia, and then in Bosnia, -- has
     now come to Kosovo, largely because the West, notably NATO, refused to stand up to him.
     Prior to 1989, Kosovo was at peace under an autonomy that allowed the Albanian people a large
     degree of self-rule. That status quo was disturbed by the Serbs by the revocation of Kosovo's
     autonomy and the initiation of an apartheid system of ethnic discrimination. Now, after a decade of
     oppression by the Serbs, the Albanians of Kosovo are faced with a pre-planned program of
     genocide, similar to that committed by the Serbs in Bosnia. The rise of the KLA is a response to
     this threat. 
     The United States and the international community first exhausted the possibilities for a diplomatic
     settlement to the crisis, repeatedly offering the Serbs the opportunity to accept the Rambouillet
     agreement, a peaceful solution that would be fair to all parties. But while the Albanians, including
     the KLA, chose the path of negotiation and peace, the Serbs rejected it. Accordingly, NATO had
     no choice but to move ahead with a military response, namely airstrikes, which in Bosnia forced the
     Serbs to the peace table. The campaign is directed against Milosevic and his security apparatus, not
     against the Serbian people.
     Unfortunately, as the Serbs moved ahead with their pre-planned program of genocide the NATO
     air campaign could not stop the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Albanians. While air
     power may ultimately bring the Serbs to heel, a just and speedy solution requires a ground
     component. Some advocate a NATO ground offensive, but there are concerns about the potential
     costs. Others advocate a program of arming and training the KLA the victims of Serbian
     aggression and genocide to liberate their own country. In any case, to fail to achieve NATO's
     objectives is completely unacceptable. International stability would be threatened, and American
     and NATO credibility would be destroyed if genocide were allowed to succeed in the heart of
     Europe at the dawn of the 21st century.
     That, in a nutshell, is the case. I have tried to paraphrase as closely as possible the arguments of
     supporters of the Clinton policy. The trouble is: hardly any part of the summary justification I just
     gave is true. Some parts of it are skewed or exaggerated interpretations of the facts, some are
     outright lies.
     However, as in Bosnia, the Clinton Administration's Kosovo policy cannot be justified without
     recasting a frightfully complex conflict, with plenty of blame to go around, as a caricature: a
     morality play in black and white where one side is completely innocent and the other entirely
     To start with, pre-1989 Kosovo was hardly the fantasyland of ethnic tolerance the pro-intervention
     caricature makes it out to be. Under the 1974 Tito constitution, which elevated Kosovo to effective
     equality with the federal republics, Kosovo's Albanians exercised virtually complete control over the
     provincial administration. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Serbs left during this period in
     the face of pervasive discrimination and the authorities' refusal to protect Serbs from ethnic
     violence. The result of the shift in the ethnic balance that accelerated during this period is the main
     claim ethnic Albanians lay to exclusive ownership of Kosovo. At the same time, Albanian demands
     mounted that the province be detached from Serbia and given republic status within the Yugoslav
     federation; republic status, if granted, would, in theory, have allowed Kosovo the legal right to
     declare its independence from Yugoslavia. One of the ironies of the present Kosovo crisis is that
     Milo sevic began his rise to power in Serbia in large part because of the oppressive character of
     pre-1989 Albanian rule in Kosovo, symbolized by the famous 1987 rally where he promised the
     local Serbs: "Nobody will beat you again." In short, rather than Milosevic being the cause of the
     Kosovo crisis, it would be as correct to say that intolerant Albanian nationalism in Kosovo is largely
     the cause of Milosevic's attainment of power.
     Second, in 1989 Kosovo's autonomy was not revoked but was downgraded -- at the federal level at
     Milosevic's initiative -- to what it had been before 1974. Many Albanians refused to accept
     Belgrade's reassertion of authority and large numbers were fired from their state jobs. The resulting
     standoff -- of boycott and the creation of alternative institutions on the Albanian side and of
     increasingly severe police repression on the Serbian side -- continued for most of the 1990s. Again,
     the political problem in Kosovo -- up until the bombing began -- has always been: how much
     autonomy will the Kosovo Albanians settle for? When I hear now that autonomy is not enough and
     that only independence will suffice, I can't help but think of Turkish Kurdistan where not only have
     the Kurds never been offered any kind of autonomy but even suggesting there ought to be
     autonomy will land you in jail. But of course we don't bomb Turkey over the Kurds; on the contrary,
     as a NATO member Turkey is one of the countries helping to bomb the Serbs.
     Third, while after 1989 there was a tense stand-off in Kosovo, what we did not have was open
     warfare. That was the result not of any pre-planned Serbian program of "ethnic cleansing" but of
     the KLA's deliberate and I would say classic strategy to turn a political confrontation into a military
     confrontation. Attacks directed against not only Serbian police and officials but Serbian civilians and
     insufficiently militant Albanians were undoubtedly, and accurately, calculated to trigger a massive
     and largely indiscriminate response by Serbian forces. The growing cycle of violence, in turn,
     further radicalized Kosovo's Albanians and led to the possibility of NATO military involvement,
     which, I submit, based on the Bosnia precedent, was the KLA's real goal rather than any realistic
     expectation of victory on the battlefield. In every respect, it has been a stunningly successful
     Fourth, the Clinton Administration's claim that NATO resorted to force only after diplomacy failed
     is a flat lie. As I pointed out in a paper issued by the Policy Committee in August of last year, the
     military planning for intervention was largely in place at that time, and all that was lacking was a
     suitable pretext. The Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement of October 1998 -- to which the KLA was
     not a party -- mandated a partial Serb withdrawal, during which the KLA occupied roughly half of
     Kosovo and cleansed dozens of villages of their Serb inhabitants. Any reaction on the Serb side,
     however, risked NATO bombing.
     Finally, the Rambouillet process cannot be considered a negotiation under any normal definition of
     the word: A bunch of lawyers at the State Department write up a 90-page document and then push
     it in front of the parties and say: " Sign it. And if you (one of the parties) sign it and he (the other
     party) doesn' then we'll bomb him." And of course, when they said that, Secretary Albright and the
     State Department knew that one of the parties would not, and could not, sign the agreement. Why?
     Because -- as has received far too little attention from our supposedly inquisitive media -- it
     provided for NATO occupation of not just Kosovo but of all of Yugoslavia (Serbia and
     Montenegro) under Paragraph 8 of Appendix B: "8. NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with
     their ehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access
     through out the FRY [i.e., the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia], including associated air space and
     territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, maneuver, billet, and
     utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations."
     I have it on good authority that one senior Administration official told media at Rambouillet (under
     embargo) "We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing,
     and that's what they are going to get." In short, Rambouillet was just Albright's charade to get to
     where we are now: a bombing campaign. Their big mistake was, they thought their splendid little
     war would have been over long before now. It's all happened just as they planned, except the last
     part: Milosevic has refused to run up the white flag.
     Fifth, nobody can doubt there are serious atrocities being committed in Kosovo by Milosevic's
     forces -- though the extent and specifics of the reports that the media (as in Bosnia) treats as
     established fact are open to question and have been characterized by Agence France Presse (4/31)
     as on occasion being "confused, contradictory, and sometimes plain wrong." For the Administration
     and NATO, however, it does not appear to detract from their propaganda value that "reports
     coming from NATO and US officials appear often as little more than regurgitation of unconfirmed
     information from the" KLA. I have in mind, for example, the report for a time being peddled by
     Jamie Rubin, among others, that some 100,000 Albanian men had been herded into the Pristina
     sports stadium until a reporter actually went to the stadium and found it empty. At the same time,
     we should not doubt that a lot more civilians, both Serb and Albanian are being killed by NATO
     than we are willing to admit as the air strikes are increasingly directed against what are
     euphemistically called "infrastructure" -- i.e., civilian -- targets. Some Albanian refugees say they
     are fleeing the Serbs, others NATO's bombs. The Clinton Administration has vainly tried to claim
     that all the bloodshed since March 24 has been Milosevic's fault, insisting that the offensive would
     have taken place even if NATO had not bombed, but I find that argument unconvincing. After the
     failure of the Rambouillet talks and the breakdown of the October 1998 Milosevic-Holbrooke
     agreement, a Serb action against the KLA may have been unavoidable -- and no doubt it would
     have been conducted with the same light touch used by the Turks against the PKK or by the Sri
     Lankans against the Tamil Tigers, who, like the KLA, do not play by Marquis of Queensberry rules.
     But a full-scale drive to push out all or most ethnic Albanians and unleash a demographic bomb
     against NATO staging areas in Albania and Macedonia may not have been.
     Sixth, because of how the Administration's decision to bomb has turned Kosovo from a crisis into a
     disaster, we no longer have a Kosovo policy we have a KLA policy. As documented in a paper
     released by the Policy Committee on March 31, the Clinton Administration has elevated to virtually
     unchallenged status as the legitimate representative of the Kosovo Albanian people aterrorist group
     about which there are very serious questions as to its criminalactivities particularly with regard to
     the drug trade and as to radical Islamic influences, including Osama bin Ladin and the Iranians.
     Advocates of U.S. assistance to the KLA, such as the Heritage Foundation, point out that based on
     the experience of aiding the mujahedin in Afghanistan, we can use our help as a leverage for
     "reforming" the KLA's behavior. However, I would ask which radical group of any description,
     either in Afghanistan (where we could at least claim the vicissitudes of the Cold War justified the
     risks), or the Izetbegovic regime in Bosnia, or, on the same principle, the Castro regime in Cuba or
     the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, or the PLO has ever genuinely a bandoned its radical birthright for a
     mess of American pottage.
     Seventh, advocates of aid to the KLA suggest that it be contingent on guarantees that that
     organization not attack civilians and not pursue a greater Albania beyond Kosovo. Given the
     pre-1989 history of Kosovo and the KLA's behavior to date, the first suggestion is laughable. As for
     the second, I submit for your consideration a map from the webpage of the Albanian American
     Civic League (, a pro-KLA group in the United States. It visually represents the
     areas claimed by the KLA, including not only Kosovo but other areas of southern Serbia, parts of
     Montenegro and Macedonia (including their capitals), and parts of Greece. When I first saw this
     map which the webmaster has made considerably harder to print since I first referenced it in my
     paper it struck a recollection of something I had seen before. It occurred to me that it is quite
     similar to one I have (printed by the State Department in 1947) of interim territorial arrangements
     during World War II. I can understand that there is an element of hyperbole in critics' calling
     NATO's air campaign "Nazi," but I fail to see what interest the United States has in helping to
     restore the Nazi-imposed borders of 1943 or how this helps preserve European stability.
     Eighth, the Clinton claim that we are hitting Milosevic and not the Serbian people is just cruel
     mockery. Politically, this bombing has solidified his position as he never could have done on his own.
     The Clinton Administration repeatedly rebuffed initiatives by the Serbian opposition for support
     against Milosevic, most recently by a direct meeting with Madeleine Albright by the Serbian
     Orthodox bishop of Kosovo, His Grace ARTEMIJE, in which he appealed for an initiative that
     would have strengthened moderate forces on both sides, begun genuine negotiations (in place of the
     Rambouillet farce), and weakened Milosevic. (I have copies of this proposal here today.)
     Predictably, that appeal fell on deaf ears. But this Administration cannot say it was not warned.
     Ninth, the Administration's "humanitarian" justification for this war the contention that this is about
     returning Albanian refugees to their homes is rank hypocrisy. Many commentators have noted that
     the Administration had turned a blind eye to the cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Serbs from
     the Krajina in 1995. This is not quite accurate. They did not turn a blind eye, they actively abetted
     the Croatian Army's "Operation Storm" with mercenary retired U.S. military consultants to provide
     training and operational planning under the guise of "democracy training." Indeed, there is evidence
     that U.S. assistance to the eradication of the Krajina Serbs may have included air strikes and
     psy-ops, but to my knowledge no member of our intrepid Fourth Estate has yet seen fit to look into
     Tenth, the notion that Milosevic is nationalist bent on creating a "Greater Serbia" is nonsense.
     Milosevic -- unlike the equally thuggish Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic -- is an opportunist,
     who likely would have been more than willing to sell out Kosovo as he did the Serbs of Krajina and
     parts of Bosnia, if the Clinton/Albright policy had not been so completely incompetent as to paint
     him into corner where he had to stand and fight. As for Greater Serbia -- as opposed to Greater
     Croatia or Greater Albania -- it's all in the definitions. The only consistent rule in the break-up of
     Titoist Yugoslavia is that the Serbs, the only constituent nationality that gave up their own national
     state to create Yugoslavia, have alone been regarded as having no legitimate interest in how it
     broke up. One the one hand, Serb minorities in other republics were expected to accept as
     authoritative Tito's borders or be regarded as "aggressors" for wishing to remain in the state in
     which they had up until them been living. On the other hand, Kosovo, a region that was part of
     Serbia even before Yugoslavia was created, is up for grabs. The double standard is breathtaking.
     So what are we left with? The Clinton Administration's blunder has done nothing but harm
     American interests and those of everybody else concerned. It has harmed the Albanian refugees,
     making an already bad situation much worse; harmed an unknown number of innocent civilians,
     both Serbian and Albanian, killed or injured by our bombing; harmed any prospects of political
     reform in Serbia that would remove Milosevic from power; harmed the U.S. security posture, as
     our forces around the world have been stripped down to devote resources to Kosovo; harmed the
     already fragile stability of neighboring states and the region as a whole; and harmed our relationship
     with Russia, which should be among our first priorities -- having vindicated every lie the Soviet
     Union ever told about NATO's aggressive intentions. And the harm grows worse every day.
     The question before us is finding an honorable exit. Some suggest turning the current disaster into
     complete catastrophe by sending in NATO ground troops under premises as faulty as those that led
     to the air war. Arming and training the KLA would be similarly ill-advised. That leaves pointlessly
     extending the air war -- or looking for a way out, a diplomatic solution. I will let Rep. Weldon
     describe his proposal as outlined in House Concurrent Resolution 99 which seems to me the best
     idea on the table. I would add only one thing: we need to stop the bombing as soon as possible. If
     what you are doing is making things worse, stop what you're doing. If you have mistakenly put
     gasoline on a fire instead of water don't pour on more.
     Some will suggest that quitting while we're behind would harm American and NATO's credibility
     and would be a victory for Milosevic. But to a large extent, that damage has already been done. As
     for NATO, what has been harmed so far is less NATO's commitment to its collective defense
     mission under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty which has never been at stake in Kosovo than
     what President Clinton has called the "new NATO" and Prime Minister Blair a "new
     internationalism," which is nowhere provided for in the Treaty. What would, and should, collapse is
     the misguided effort to transform NATO from a defensive alliance into a regional peacekeeping
     organization, a mini-U.N. with "out-of-area" responsibilities, a certain road to more Bosnias and
     more Kosovos down the line. That mission would lose its credibility, fatally so, and so it should. The
     Clinton Administration's incompetent policy in Kosovo has had one small benefit: it has exposed fact
     that last year, when the Senate gave its advice and consent to expansion of NATO's membership, it
     also approved expansion of NATO's mission. If the Clinton Administration and NATO are
     successful in Kosovo, not only will the principle of state sovereignty in the face of an out-of-control
     international bureaucracy be fatally compromised, we can expect (and indeed some observers
     already have started to set out the case for) new and even more dangerous adventure! s of this sort
     elsewhere, notably in the Caucasus.
     Finally, I have no confidence that the Clinton Administration is ready to take the rational way out
     offered by Rep. Weldon and his colleagues. Indeed, rational people would not have committed the
     blunders to date nor would they have continued to compound them. All signs indicate that President
     Clinton, Secretary Albright, and their "Third Wave" European cronies of the Tony Blair stripe are
     treating this not as a policy problem but as a political problem. Their attitude, as it was during the
     impeachment crisis, is "we'll just have to win then, won't we" -- "winning" meaning not a successful
     policy or even winning the war, but winning the propaganda war: an exercise in media spin, polls,
     and focus groups. As Madeleine Albright suggested last year, the leader of some countries she
     mentioned, Serbia among them . . . try to grab the truth and leash it like a dog, ration it like bread, or
     mold it like clay. Their goal is to create their own myths, conceal their own blunders, direct
     resentments elsewhere and instill in their people a dread of change.
     However true that description is of Slobodan Milosevic, Madame Secretary should look in the
     mirror. No, this war is not about American interests but about vindicating the intelligence of
     Madeleine Albright and the good word of Bill Clinton.
     The door to an honorable exit is clearly marked.
     The question is how to induce this Administration to take it.
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