October 20, 1998




Once again, the Clinton Administration has demonstrated its inability to use force to support its diplomatic objectives. The result is an unnecessary capitulation to Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic on Kosovo.

American policy should have consisted of three elements: 1) ending the Serbian onslaught in Kosovo and re-establishing a level of self-rule for the Albanians no less than what they enjoyed before Milosevic came to power; 2) reducing the Serbian capability and appetite for waging war in Kosovo by conducting sustained military strikes on its forces both inside Kosovo and in Serbia; 3) initiating a longer-term strategy to remove from power the single most important cause for the on-going crisis in the Balkans, Slobodan Milosevic.

Holding the ultimate ace-in-the-hole, American military might, the Clinton Administration folded well before it had in place a policy that will bring peace and stability to Kosovo. First, the administration agreed to allow Serb police and military units to remain in Kosovo in numbers sufficient to intimidate any Albanians who might return to their homes. Second, the agreement accepts even less self-rule for the Kosovars than what they enjoyed before Milosevic. Third, the placement of OSCE "verifiers" (read: “hostages”) in Kosovo greatly reduces the likelihood that there will be any significant military strikes against Serb forces who violate terms of the agreement. And, finally, the administration has once again made Milosevic a partner in carrying out its policy rather than the problem to be removed.
The agreement the administration has signed on to guarantees that all the key elements of the current instability -- Serb forces, Milosevic, Kosovar insecurity, and a sense among the Albanians of Kosovo that the West cannot be counted on to relieve them from their plight -- will continue to exist in Kosovo. At best, the agreement has brought some temporary relief from the mayhem as winter approaches. But it has also created an unstable, combustible mix which is almost certain to fuel further conflict and ethnic slaughter in the future.