February 10, 1999
MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS
FROM: GARY SCHMITT
Press reports indicate,
however, that talks at Rambouillet and current plans for implementing
a peace accord will not meet these basic tenets. Instead, Serb army and
police will be allowed to remain in Kosovo, Kosovar autonomy will be less
than what it enjoyed previously, and Milosevic's legitimacy will be reaffirmed
as we make him a "partner" in final settlement.
This need not be.
NATO has the power to dictate the terms of a just and workable settlement.
But instead, the U.S. and NATO are handing off responsibility for negotiating
an end to the conflict to the Contact Group consisting of, among others,
France and Russia, just as they are handing off the subsequent supervision
of Serbian paramilitary forces to unarmed and therefore, ineffectual OSCE
monitors. Instead of resolving this conflict in a decisive fashion, the
Clinton Administration is creating a situation in which the U.S.-led NATO
will be acting as neutral arbiter in a conflict clearly started by Serbia
and will be trimming its policies to placate Russian and French domestic
a legitimate concern about the possibility of American troops getting
mired down in Kosovo. The solution to that problem, however, is not to
avoid deploying U.S. and NATO troops but to deploy them in service of
a decisive and strategically sound policy. At the moment, NATO has given
Milosevic a veto over the outcome of the talks by declaring that it would
not send troops into Kosovo until a political agreement has been reached.
If we want to avoid a muddled agreement which will satisfy no one and,
accordingly, require an indefinite stay by American and NATO troops in
Kosovo, then, the administration should stop avoiding its leadership responsibilities.
NATO should fix the terms of the final agreement so as to insure an end
to Milosevic's rule over Kosovo.
By his actions, Milosevic
has lost all legitimate rights to have a say about Kosovo's future. And
a Kosovo free of Serb troops and his rule is the best way to minimize
the size and duration of an American troop deployment there.