What if the bombing stops now?

J. Barkley Rosser, Jr. rosserjb at jmu.edu
Wed Apr 14 11:02:01 PDT 1999

This is a followup to a message I sent yesterday in response to Max Sawicky. Nobody, including him, has responded to that, but I have thought about the matter further and think that his request requires a more precise reply. In particular, what would we who oppose the bombing and wish it would stop RIGHT NOW expect or think might happen as a result. I see two likely scenarios with probable reality perhaps falling between them.

Of course any scenario would end the deaths of Yugoslav civilians outside of Kosmet. I do not know whether or not the attacks on civilian targets are intentional or not. Certainly they lead to terrible press, which Clinton certainly does not like. But, the hard fact is that even if the bombers are/were trying their utmost to avoid civilian targets, it can't be done. The only way to stop killing Yugoslav civilians is to stop the bombing.

I further note, for those who want to play "collective Serbian guilt" trips a la Goldenhagen, that not all of these civilians are ethnic Serbs. The Hungarians specifically requested that NATO not bomb Novi Sad because of the large ethnic Hungarian population in that capital of the Vojvodina province. Needless to say, that request has been ignored.

1) His Excellency Makes Peace Right Away (or quickly). Certainly this would be the preferred scenario, and one that cannot be ruled out by the pro-bombing crowd. He would certainly be in a political position to do so, having achieved most on the ground in Kosmet of what he can hope to achieve. This would consolidate his gains, such as they are. He might have to accept an agreement that is not totally to his liking, but a halt to the bombing would put all kinds of political pressure, both internal and external, on him to halt his activities and declare peace. He can even claim victory, thus holding at bay his more hawkish internal opposition.

This would mean a cessation of the Serbian attack on the Albanian Kosovars. Of course, if His Excellency did not resettle the refugees quickly he very likely will face a serious continuing campaign by the UCK/KLA against him. But he might be able to get outside support to suppress them, especially if he resettles the refugees and accepts some kind of international peace-keeping force on the ground there.

2) His Excellency Continues His Campaign (ugh). This certainly cannot be ruled out and is what is essentially assumed by many pro-bombing people, especially those whose motives are not some fear of "loss of face" by NATO, although the longer this goes on, the more such quagmire types of motives come into play, as they are already with those pushing escalation and the introduction of ground troops.

First of all, and perhaps most important, even if this is what transpires I do not see any worsening for the Albanian Kosovars of their situation. It is already bad and the bombing is simply not helping it in any way shape or form or slowing down His Excellency's abominable campaign against these people at all. Plus, although I have been skeptical of the claims that refugees are running from NATO bombs, to the extent that some of the collateral civilians killed in Kosmet have been Albanians, that will stop. But what then?

First of all I see that His Excellency will be facing an invigorated and totally supported UCK/KLA, even if NATO does not actively arm them (the almighty Albright continues to oppose that, along with introducing ground troops, and thus so does Billy Boy). We have already seen His Excellency lashing out in frustration at Albania, rather along the lines of the Israelis at the guerrillas in Lebanon. But, I imagine that NATO would guarantee the borders of Albania (and Macedonia) and His Excellency would be unable to establish the kind of cordon sanitaire that the Israelis have in Southern Lebanon. He will be unable to defeat the UCK/KLA and will himself be caught in a quagmire of his own making.

With no more bombing, the internal opposition to him will now be able to revitalize and develop. The longer he fights a hopeless war in Kosmet, the stronger that opposition will become. This would be one of the most positive aspects that a halt in the bombing would bring, even if it might take awhile for this to happen as His Excellency at least for awhile might be able to draw on the memory of the bombing to attack (and kill) his internal opponents.

Such internal opposition would almost certainly include the secession of the Repubic of Montenegro which would be almost certainly supported by the OSCE and the UN under such circumstances. That would be the end of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, whose dismembering His Excellency has played such a large role in bringing about, if not the only party in that role. Russia and other erstwhile allies would abandon His Excellency. Eventually he would have to sue for peace.

I see the end in either scenario being the introduction of an appropriate international peacekeeping force, almost certainly including the Russians. His Excellency might achieve some gains, such as a guarantee of permanent official sovereignty by Yugoslavia over Kosmet. But his ability to achieve that aim will weaken the longer he waits to make a deal and the more intransigent and inhuman he is towards the refugees and the Albanians still within Kosmet. Presumably such an agreement would have strong guarantees for the rights of all minorities within Kosmet. But it would probably also include some kind of serious autonomy, if not independence (or union with Albania) for the province. He would be better off with Rugova being in charge, but as has already been noted, he has not helped himself with that one by undercutting Rugova in the past, thereby causing the UCK/KLA to gain support. It is not clear at all that he is going to be able to achieve anything as good as what Rambouillet would have given him, although he might.

As I suggested yesterday, if the ultimate outcome is to be a loss of sovereignty over the troubled province, either in the form of an independent Kosova, or a Kosova province united with Albania, then an obvious way to go would be to link this with a broader Balkans settlement that might grant union between Serbia and the Bosnian Srpska Republika, along with other possible border revisions, etc.

That's all folks, except to note that I do not see the bottom line of a cessation of bombing now being all that much worse if at all for the Albanian Kosovars, and certainly a whole lot better for a lot of other people, including those currently prosecuting this war. Barkley Rosser

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