Fwd: Weekly Analysis -- April 19, 1999

James Baird jlbaird3 at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 18 21:44:00 PDT 1999

More interesting stuff from Stratfor...

>From: alert at stratfor.com
>To: alert at stratfor.com
>Subject: Weekly Analysis -- April 19, 1999
>Date: Sun, 18 Apr 1999 23:35:15 -0500 (CDT)
>Stratfor's FREE Kosovo Crisis Center -
>The most comprehensive coverage of the
>Kosovo Crisis anywhere on the Internet
>Global Intelligence Update
>April 19, 1999
>Weekly Analysis:
>Understanding the War in Kosovo in the Fourth Week
>The war in Kosovo grew out of fundamental miscalculations in
>Washington, particularly concerning the effect Russian support
>had on Milosevic's thinking. So long as Milosevic feels he has
>Russian support, he will act with confidence. If Russia wavers,
>Milosevic will have to deal. With the air war stalemated and
>talks of ground attack a pipe dream, diplomacy remains NATO's
>best option. That option depends on Russian cooperation.
>However, Russian cooperation will cost a great deal of money.
>That brings us to the IMF, the Germans, and former Russian Prime
>Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who is Russia's new negotiator on
>Serbia, a leading economic reformer and a good friend of the
>On March 24, 1999, NATO aircraft began to bomb Yugoslavia. We
>are in the fourth week of the campaign, which now appears to be a
>stalemate. NATO is unable to force Belgrade to capitulate to its
>demands using the force currently available. Yugoslavia is
>unable to inflict sufficient casualties on the attackers to
>dissuade NATO from continuing the campaign nor has it been able
>to drive a wedge into NATO from which a peace party might emerge
>that is prepared to negotiate a conclusion to the conflict on
>terms favorable to Serbia. As in most wars, the rhetoric on both
>sides is filled with purple prose, horrible accusations and much
>Given that the current stalemate cannot be maintained
>indefinitely, we are, almost by definition, at a turning point.
>While the stalemate can, theoretically, go on indefinitely,
>neither side has it in its interest to permit this to happen.
>NATO's unity is fragile at best, particularly if the conflict
>fails to resolve itself. Yugoslavia is losing valuable economic
>assets that it would rather not lose. Since neither side appears
>ready to capitulate and neither side wants the current stalemate
>to continue, it is useful to consider, leaving rhetoric aside,
>how we got here and where all this is likely to go.
>It is clear to us that the war began in a fundamental
>miscalculation by NATO planners and particularly by the civilian
>leadership of the United States: Madeleine Albright, Sandy
>Berger, Richard Holbrooke and the President. They made a
>decision to impose the Rambouillet Accords on both sides in
>Kosovo. It was simply assumed that, given the threat of
>bombardment, Slobodan Milosevic would have no choice but to
>capitulate and accept the accords. By all accounts, Richard
>Holbrooke, architect of the Dayton Accords and the person most
>familiar with Milosevic was the author of this reading of
>Holbrooke had good historical precedent for his read of
>Milosevic. After all, when Serbs in Bosnia were bombed in 1995,
>Milosevic capitulated and signed the Dayton Accords. Holbrooke's
>reasoning was that history would repeat itself. The evidence
>that Washington expected capitulation was in its complete lack of
>preparation for an extended conflict. At the time the air
>campaign began, NATO had about 400 military aircraft available
>for the campaign, with less than 200 hundred for bombing
>missions. Even with the availability of cruise missiles, no
>serious military observer, including apparently senior U.S.
>military officials, believed this to have been anywhere near the
>amount required to inflict serious damage. Indeed, most
>observers doubted that an air campaign by itself could possibly
>succeed without a ground campaign. Thus, Washington and NATO
>were either wholly irresponsible in launching the campaign with
>insufficient forces, or had good reason to believe that Milosevic
>would rapidly capitulate. Since Albright, Berger, Holbrooke and
>the President are neither fools, nor irresponsible, we can only
>conclude that they were guilty of faulty judgment about how the
>Serbs would respond.
>There are three reasons for the difference in Milosevic's
>behavior in 1999 and 1995. First, Kosovo is strategically and
>psychologically critical to the Serbs. The demands of the
>Rambouillet Accords were crafted in such a way that the Serbs
>were convinced that NATO occupation would mean the loss of Serb
>sovereignty over Kosovo. Thus, where NATO was calculating that
>Milosevic could not survive politically if he brought a bombing
>campaign on Serbia, Milosevic was making the exact opposite
>calculation: that he could not survive if he accepted NATO's
>demands. In fact, Milosevic's view was that a bombing campaign
>over Kosovo would increase his domestic political power, by
>positioning him as a champion of Serbian national unity, thereby
>limiting the ability of his opposition to oppose him.
>The second reason had to do with the shift in Russia's position.
>In 1995, Russia was deep into its love affair with the West.
>That meant that Serbia was politically isolated, without hope of
>support or resupply. Milosevic saw the world very differently in
>1999. He had observed the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December 1998
>and Russia's reaction to it. He concluded that not only was he
>no longer isolated, but that the internal dynamics of NATO were
>such that they would limit the intensity and duration of the
>campaign. Milosevic expected a vigorous Russian reaction to war.
>It was also his expectation that NATO's fear of a return to the
>Cold War would create a peace faction inside of NATO. He was
>confident that Greece would not join in the campaign, and he had
>great hopes for Germany, France, and Italy. It was Milosevic's
>view that the Germans would be terrified of a breakdown in good
>relations with Russia; that France would play its normal game of
>being a good NATO member while simultaneously hoping to weaken
>the Anglo-Americans; and that the Italian government was so weak
>that it would not give NATO carte blanche for the use of its air
>bases, particularly after the cable car incident. Thus,
>Milosevic felt that the geopolitical and diplomatic situation had
>shifted in his favor, and that the NATO operation would be
>limited in time and intensity.
>Finally, Milosevic was acutely aware that, although the U.S. and
>Britain had been conducting an air campaign in Iraq since mid-
>December, the constraints on U.S. and British air forces were
>such that they were extremely reluctant to enter into two
>simultaneous air campaigns whose intensity was not fully under
>their control. Milosevic was convinced that the small number of
>aircraft allocated to the anti-Serb campaign represented resource
>limitations on the United States.
>In a sense, both sides miscalculated. The United States assumed
>that Milsosevic would capitulate when he realized that the United
>States would actually bomb Serbia. Milosevic assumed that the
>Russians would be a more limiting factor on NATO behavior and
>that American concern for the Iraqi theater would deter them as
>well. But of the two, the American miscalculation was the
>greatest. NATO has not yet split as Milosevic hoped, but a split
>in the coming weeks, as discussions of a ground campaign
>intensify, is not only possible, but even likely. Moreover,
>while the U.S. has transferred air assets into the Serbian
>theater at an increasing rate, the transfer has been slow in
>coming, precisely because it strips air reserves from the United
>States and forces the redeployment of scarce aircraft from the
>Iraqi theater. There is no doubt in our mind that Washington's
>misunderstanding of Belgrade's thinking was much more profound
>than Belgrade's misreading of its opponents.
>Thus, Milosevic is quite content to absorb the current level of
>air attacks. He has established what is for him an acceptable
>reality on the ground in Kosovo. He has cemented his political
>supremacy in Belgrade, helped along by Clinton's extraordinary
>error in identifying the removal of Milosevic as a war goal and
>thereby wedding the idea of Serbian national interest and
>Milosevic's personal survival together in the Serbian mind.
>Milosevic is quite content with the situation as it stands. He
>is so content that he has, for the time being, rejected the
>German proposals for a compromise on Rambouillet including non-
>NATO police forces. He sees no need for a compromise right now.
>Milosevic is waiting for NATO to make a move and, in his view,
>they don't have many moves to make.
>NATO has three options:
>* Intensified Air War: This is the option it is officially
>pursuing. The available air power is being raised to over 1,000
>aircraft, although it is not clear when all aircraft will be in
>theater. There are three weaknesses with the strategy. First,
>air campaigns, no matter how intense, simply have not
>historically succeeded in forcing capitulation. An air campaign
>can be effective in wearing down a military force but to take
>advantage of it requires a ground option. Moreover, wearing down
>a military force in Serbia's terrain and with Serbia's climate
>will take substantially more aircraft than are currently
>contemplated. Second, building a sufficient attack force of
>aircraft against Serbia will require stripping forces from Iraq
>and elsewhere. As a result, the United States will find itself
>wide-open for attack in other areas. Finally, and most
>important, NATO is committing the fundamental error of air power
>as a weapon of psychological warfare: gradualism. Rather than
>overwhelming the enemy with sudden, terrible power, NATO is
>permitting the Serbs to adjust themselves psychologically to
>increasing levels of violence. An air war by itself will not
>cause Milosevic to capitulate, let alone resign. The increased
>commitment to the air war compounds the original error and the
>expectation that it will result in capitulation is sheer wishful
>* Ground attack option: This is a complex matter about which we
>have prepared a fuller study "Analysis of NATO's Ground Invasion
>Options" at http://www.stratfor.com/crisis/kosovo/. We will
>simply summarize our findings here. First, the only doable
>option from Albania alone is an attack on the Pagarusa Valley.
>Not only is this a complex and costly operation, but it achieves
>little. Second, an invasion of Kosovo proper is impossible from
>Albania alone because the roads will not sustain the necessary
>supplies to the size force required. At the very least, an
>invasion must also come from Macedonia, but Macedonia has refused
>to permit this. It must also be supported from Greek ports,
>which the Greeks have refused to allow NATO to use. A general
>invasion of Yugoslavia would require the cooperation of both
>Hungary and Romania as well as permission from Austria or
>Slovakia for transshipment of men, equipment and supplies. A
>build up of military assets for such an operation will take many
>months and the result could be a quagmire like Vietnam if the
>Serbs retreat into their national redoubt, which they plan to do.
>We simply do not see a credible ground attack option available
>for logistical and diplomatic reasons before the end of the
>summer. The only option, the Pagarusa invasion, is so trivial in
>its effect on Belgrade as not to be worth mounting.
>* Diplomatic option: Germany and Russia appear to be working in
>tandem in bringing about some sort of proposal. The United
>States has adopted the role of "bad cop" to Germany and Russia's
>"good cop." Milosevic is not particularly impressed. There is a
>key here, however: Russia. If Milosevic becomes convinced that
>Russia has abandoned him, he may become much more flexible. It
>is, of course, very hard, for the Russians to abandon the Serbs
>for internal political reasons. However, it is interesting to
>note that Viktor Chernomyrdin, former reform Prime Minister has
>been appointed to manage Russian diplomacy on Serbia. Why
>Yeltsin would want to frighten Milosevic by appointing a liberal
>who is well liked by the West is an interesting question? A
>press report out of Moscow, saying that they expect to start
>receiving IMF money in a few months may be part of the answer.
>The Russians may be for sale. If so, NATO had better go
>Neither the air campaign, nor a ground attack, nor Clinton or
>Albright's ferocious rhetoric worries Milosevic. The loss of
>Russia as an ally does worry him. Now, for political reasons, it
>is not clear that the Russians can completely abandon the Serbs.
>However, the mere hint of Russian softness could cause Milosevic
>to become more flexible in his terms. But Russia needs to be
>motivated to turn soft, and the color of motivation remains
>green. If we were cynical, we would be tempted to say that
>Russia encouraged Milosevic in order to put Russia in a strong
>position vis-à-vis Germany and other nations able to extend
>credit. However, since we are not cynical, we will be simply
>startled at the sudden opportunity the West has to work closely
>with the Russians in solving their financial problems.
>Washington's nonsense about overthrowing Milosevic, bombing him
>into submission and invading Serbia is of little consequence. At
>the center of this crisis now is Russia, and the price it will
>charge for placing Milosevic back into isolation. Milosevic
>undertook his adventure in part because of the Russia factor. As
>Russia softens, Milosevic has to weaken. Therefore, the question
>for this week is how Milosevic reads Moscow? If he is getting
>concerned about Russia's commitment to Serbia, then German peace
>proposals might suddenly get a warmer reception. If not, the war
>goes on.
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