and one success?

The British believe

British government ministers often talk as if the war had one aim only - to get KOSOVO Albanian refugees back into Kosovo. As a result, most people in Britain believe the war was a success because they don't realise that the bombing made the ethnic cleansing happen. They do not know that the threat to bomb was made before the ethnic cleansing started, and that the threat precipitated the ethnic cleansing. 
There was violence in Kosovo in the months before the war with two sides carrying out atrocities - the Serbs and the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA were fighting for independence from Yugoslavia. The Serbs were attempting to put down an armed uprising. But in the autumn of 1998 and the spring of 1999 there were only periodic attacks by the KLA and retaliation by the Serbs. There was not ethnic cleansing. [see separate item on this topic  -  What most British don't know about the war in Kosovo.]

Aims of the war

The return of Kosovo Albanians became an aim of the war by the time the bombing started. It was the highly visible need, and the only aim known to most ordinary people in Europe. But the starting point for the threat of bombing had been the fact that President Milosevic would not sign an agreement. The aim was to punish Serbia by bombing until Milosevic signed an agreement that would establish a free market economy in Kosovo (Rambouillet Agreement, Chapter 4a Article I,1) and allow NATO forces to occupy not only Kosovo but also Serbia and Montenegro (i.e. the whole of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia  - (Rambouillet Agreement, Appendix B, 8). It was economic warfare attached to an inter-ethnic conflict which had become increasingly violent because the Americans had been supporting armed rebels.


1. The ethnic cleansing by the Serbs was precipitated by the NATO decision to bomb. It was a crime against humanity for which a part of the blame has to be allocated to NATO. (First disastrous failure of the war. See When and why the ethnic cleansing began.)
2. The bombing destroyed much of the civilian infrastructure of Serbia, caused widespread pollution (including a 15 kilometre oil slick on the Danube, the source of drinking water for 10 million people),  killed 2000 Serbs and injured 6000 more. Many road and rail bridges were destroyed. The River Danube, a main artery for industrial traffic for a number of nations was blocked. The bombing destroyed numerous factories and industrial installations including the only oil refinery, all oil storage depots, the only car factory, pharmaceutical factories, rubber factories and power stations. Schools, hospitals, religious sites and the market place in Nis were all bombed. (Second disastrous failure of the war.)  All this was supposed to be part of humanitarian action, and it went against the claim of the UK Prime Minister who told us that "our quarrel is not with the ordinary people of Serbia." Targeting civilian resources contravenes the Geneva Convention and surely constitutes a crime against humanity.
3. Whilst it is good to be able to record the safe return of the Kosovo Albanians the action of a great many of them in bombing and burning homes, threatening, abducting and murdering Serbs and cleansing approximately 250,000 Serbs, Roma and moderate Kosovo Albanians from Kosovo is the third disastrous failure of the war. It constitutes a crime against humanity comparable with the Serb action in March and April. Why was it not given equivalent media coverage in Britain? 
4. NATO troops were on the ground in Kosovo providing one soldier to every thirty citizens of Kosovo when this cleansing went on. Why were they totally ineffective in preventing this outrage?  (Another failure.) If bombing was such a good idea against Serbs why was it not a good idea for Kosovo Albanians? (I am not advocating this, but trying to point up the absurdity of the bombing response.)
5.The threat of bombing was illegal under the Vienna Convention, article 52 (Please click here for details.)
6. The NATO action was illegal under the terms of its own treaty which established NATO as a purely defensive organisation. Why has the overturning of this founding principle of the Alliance not attracted the relentless scrutiny of the media? The issue is of truly historical importance. [See separate item for more details]
7.The NATO action set aside the Charter of the United Nations, thus undermining respect for international agreements and setting a dangerous precedent for other nations to follow.
8. If the war was a success why have not all the NATO troops come home? The reason, of course, is that ethnic tension, as a result of all the KLA violence supported by the United States and the violent action carried out by NATO, is now far greater than it has ever been, and lack of reconciliation and understanding between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians makes democratic government and law and order a nearly impossible thing to achieve in the short term. The NATO action put back peace in Kosovo a generation. Another disastrous failure of the war.
9. The agreement Serbia refused to sign at Rambouillet contained terms that no country would have accepted in similar circumstances. The demands were totally unreasonable. Most of the enormous human suffering caused by it follow from this one fact. If there isn't a crime for what the perpetrators of the terms did then there should be. Many people of great knowledge and status have condemned the terms presented to the Serbs. These include Henry Kissinger whose pro-US and pro-NATO credentials are beyond question. (Please see details in section, 7 ways NATO broke international law.)
10. The Serbs did not give in to the demand for NATO troops to pass wherever they pleased in Serbia. The war was fought for this. The war failed to achieve its objective. A major failure of the war.
11. The Rambouillet Agreement carried the possibility that Kosovo might achieve independence from Yugoslavia. The agreement that ended the war confirmed that Kosovo would remain part of Yugoslavia. (Why has NATO not honoured the agreement it has signed? Why are there no Yugoslav flags at the borders? Why has a foreign currency been introduced? Why are no taxes collected for the parent country? Why is there no consultation between NATO and Belgrade? Why have the Americans built a massive base  -  Camp Bondsteel  -  in direct defiance of the wishes of the Serbian Government?) 
Lack of independence for Kosovo is a stimulus to Kosovo Albanians to carry on fighting for the independence which they thought NATO was going to deliver to them. So the war goes on. 
12. The Rambouillet agreement was turned down by Serbia partly because it specified that NATO troops would occupy Kosovo. The agreement that ended the war accepted only UN troops would occupy Kosovo with NATO leadership. This would be a failure of NATO war aims but for the fact that NATO has not strictly honoured the end of war agreement. The troops are nominally UN troops, but it is significant that  the great majority of UN troops are, in fact, predominantly NATO troops and that they do not wear the UN blue beret. Why is this? Is it to pretend that NATO won the right to be the occupying force?
13. Mr Milosevic agreed that his troops would return to positions held at the time of the start of the Rambouillet talks. The war was successful after all.


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