4. The cost of warfighting assets:
Most NATO countries, but particularly the US under the Clinton presidency, have dramatically reduced real defense spending since 1991. The US subsequently expended much of its Reagan and Bush era ordnance in the Gulf War and then in subsequent "police actions". More Cruise Missiles were launched against Iraq in the years following the Gulf War than in the war itself, showing in hindsight just how prudent the campaign in 1991 had been in the actual expenditure of high-cost weapons. The service life of most key NATO weapons and support systems has been reduced because of the increased wear-and- tear caused by the existing air operations against Yugoslavia, and, in the case of the US, by its deployments against Iraq in recent years.
The most modern and capable coalition of armed forces in the world NATO now has fairly mature weapons systems in service, many in need of replacement. On the other hand, the military capabilities of the PRC, DPRK and even Russia are once again improving. The relative balance between NATO and its potential adversaries is now very different than it was, say, five years ago.
5. The cost to NATOs survivability:
Behind the facade of unanimity at NATOs 50th Anniversary summit in Washington DC on April 23-24, 1999, there was enormous concern and considerable mutual hostility among some members. France, finally back into a leadership role in the military wing of NATO, is clearly (but quietly) horrified at the cavalier use of the Alliance in Yugoslavia.
The new members of the Alliance Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland had viewed NATO as a club which would both protect them from a revival of Russian imperialism and at the same time admit them to the Western economic circle. Thus far, the cost to each of them in economic and political terms has been considerable. Far from being members of a safe club, they are now expected to engage in NATOs war against their near-neighbor.
Greece, an Orthodox Christian coun-try (like much of Yugoslavia and Cyprus), has felt itself isolated by the Yugoslav conflict and has refused to align itself against Serbia.
Italy, which has had a strong domestic civil reaction against deployment in the Yugoslav conflict, knows it would suffer enormously (perhaps more than any other NATO country except Greece) if the fighting escalated. Italy has already suffered enormously from the overflow of Albanian and Kosovar refugees, and from the large upsurge in criminal activities caused by Albanians and their Iranian (and other) sponsors.
The negative economic impact on Greece and Italy alone may be enough to tax the overall economic harmony of the European Union (EU). But the strains may finally pit Greece and Turkey against each other, given that some Turks feel that Turkey has an historical interest in re-projecting Islam into the Balkans. The attempted break-up of Yugoslavia and the FYR of Macedonia to create Albanian enclaves directly affects Greece, which would be forced to seriously consider attempting to appropriate the non-Albanian part of the FYR of Macedonia, if only to protect the inhabitants from being totally swallowed into "Greater Albania".
The degradation of the situation from that point is not entirely predictable. Considerably more research needs to be undertaken into the ramifications of conflict expansion for NATO. The Washington summit speeches talked about "creating a new mission for NATO", and about "projecting and protecting shared ideals". But that was not the purpose of NATO, which was optimized as a defensive alliance, not an offensive one.
The reality is that NATO still does not have a true strategic mission. The use of NATO for the Yugoslav exercise at the insistence of Clinton, and with the seemingly mindless support from the UKs Blair, only reinforces that reality. It is apparent to all that the protection of Kosovar refugees, if that is the present rationale for taking the world to war, is a fairly flimsy platform for "projecting and protecting common ideals".
So it must be assumed that the Yugoslav adventure will hurt NATO more than help it, quite apart from the prospect of all the other costs and the possible overflow of conflict to other regions. It is feasible that, even if escalation to a ground war is abandoned and the air war ends by, say, July 1, NATO may still not survive the damage done to it.
Clinton, Blair and NATO Secretary-General Javier Solano spent most of their careers blindly opposing NATO. Now that they have it within their grasp, they are misusing it and thus may achieve their original objective: to destroy it.
6. Managing Unexpected Human and Asset Losses:
One of the things which NATO did successfully in the first 30 days of the air campaign was to maintain very effective secrecy on the loss of the human and material assets in the war, discussed earlier in this report. This "success", however, is almost certain to backfire. Certainly, the Yugoslavs are aware of the NATO losses, so the secrecy cannot be sustained on the grounds that "enemy" knowledge of the facts would hamper NATOs ability to prosecute the war. Rather, the secrecy was deemed essential to stem opposition to the campaign against Yugoslavia with the feeling that the enemy would be easier to defeat even than Iraqs Saddam Hussein. This is the price of victory over Iraq: excessive confidence.
This journal has been covering the Balkans conflict closely since 1992 and we have had a great many contacts since that time with US intelligence and military officers who were baffled by our analysis. There was an almost fatalistic willingness to believe the Wests own propaganda about the situation in the Balkans, rather than to read history, or to attempt to understand the peoples of the region. This is still the case.
The constant NATO, US Defense Department, US State Department and White House briefings about how "Yugoslavias military capability has been severely degraded" and about how "we have hit Miloevic where he lives" have been exercises in self-delusion and have been viewed with amazement in Belgrade.
What will happen now, when the truth of NATO casualties begins to emerge? Will this cause the US and European publics to say "enough is enough"? Or will it cause outrage and the demand that the matter must now be settled by war?
7. The cost of burdening military leaders with political objectives:
NATO is a military alliance, designed and tasked to fulfill military functions as directed by the Alliance political leadership. Why, then, are people such as NATO SACEUR Gen. Wesley Clark, and the US and UK chiefs of staff, and even the NATO public affairs officer, Jamie Shea, making statements of a political nature against Yugoslav leaders?
These officials have left themselves open to complicity in the political mistakes of their elected leaders. A decade ago, no NATO official would have dared engage in the kind of self-justifying political statements of the type which Clark and Shea, in particular, have engaged.
What this has done is to make it more difficult for NATO military leaders to plan a strategic "exit strategy" from the conflict. Early in the war, when bloodlust was up, it may have seemed a fairly acceptable posture. Today, it has all the hallmarks of General Custers comments about Chief Sitting Bull, just before the battle of Little Big Horn.
In a sense, by abandoning professional neutrality, the defense leadership, including the civilian defense ministers/secretaries, have made it more difficult for them to advocate coherent and rational policies for the conduct of the war. They are now bound up in their political masters path, something which does not help them to guide those same political masters path, something which does not help them to guide those same political masters to the best possible courses of action.
8. The loss of prestige
The late strategic philosopher Dr Stefan Possony, who co-founded this journal with me in 1972, said that prestige was the credit rating of nations. He meant that in many ways. Deterrence, for example, is totally dependent on the prestige of a defensive system. That prestige derives from perceptions about professionalism of operational capability, about strategic conduct, and, very often, about being on "the right side". It is significant that during the Cold War, the US was often admired and respected by the average Soviet citizen, and certainly by the citizens of the Warsaw Treaty Organization states, A number of those Warsaw Pact states moved rapidly at the Cold Wars end to join the US-led Western economic structure and NATO.
Polls in Russia in mid-April 1999 showed 98 percent of Russians opposed to NATOs action against Yugoslavia. And former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Anatoliy Chubalas told the BBC on April 22, 1999, that a unified Russia unified by the current conflict saw NATO as a predatory organization.
Russians, he said, feared the West as never before; nuclear war was never closer than now. There was a general perception, he said, that after Iraq and Yugoslavia, Russia was the next to be vilified by the West and targeted as an enemy.
The loss of Western prestige over the past seven years goes well beyond Russia, however. Clearly, India and Pakistan feel that they can no longer rely on Western arbitration and have opted to finally make public their commitment to strategic defense systems of their own. Terrorist groups, such as that of Osama bin Laden, appear to hit the US at will.
In the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute, now underway, Eritrea virtually threw out senior US envoys even when those envoys were trying to help Eritrea. Ethiopia treated the envoys little better.
So in a sense, NATO leaders are correct when they insist on a victory for the Alliance in the conflict with Yugoslavia. A military defeat would signal even more chaos. But a victory with some compassion through political and peaceful means is what is needed, and quickly, if NATO is to retain credibility and the moral high ground. Perhaps it is already too late for that.
But there can be no question: NATO and the US-led West will have no future, no real power (and will face decline, opposition and loss of markets) if the war is not ended quickly and if the West does not take an even-handed approach to major issues for the foresee-able future.
The restoration of prestige reputation is difficult after mistakes have been made of this magnitude and morals compromised.