The adversaries finally agreed to a settlement each for their own reasons. On the Yugoslav side, the NATO attacks on the power grid in Yugoslavia in the last few weeks were threatening massive civilian suffering and death that the Yugoslav government had to be sensitive to.
On the NATO side, the alliance was becoming hopelessly divided within. Opposition in may parts of the world was strong, and criticism was arising within the Western nations themselves as the horrors of a war against civilians sank in. Greece opposed the war from the outset, and all three new members, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, expressed powerful reservations about the direction NATO was taking. Norway appears to have had second thoughts very quickly about the nature of the air war. Belgium and the Netherlands followed suit. Ultimately, Italy and Germany both began to push for a compromise negotiated through the Russians, with the U.S. and Britain continuing to hold out for Yugoslavia's unconditional surrender. Clinton finally had to give in.
What have been the actual results of the war diplomatically? Though the rhetoric is seeking to conceal the reality, Clinton and Albright have agreed to a UN force rather than a NATO one, though NATO nations will be represented as UN members. Russian forces may also be used. Moreover, since the operation will be under UN supervision, China and Russia will have much say in the decision-making.
Clinton and Albright have yielded on occupying Yugoslavia in general or even Kosovo in particular. The exact form that home rule will take is not being dictated and will be worked out under a UN-appointed administrator. There is a commitment to recognize Kosovo as an integral part of Yugoslavia, and there will be no referendum in three years.
Very important is that UN forces must now seek to "demilitarize" the KLA, whom Clinton used when he thought he could get leverage to take over Yugoslavia. It was always dangerous to dither with the KLA for any purposes, since they are a terrorist organization that can also disrupt Macedonia and Greece. News reports from everywhere are indicating that getting the KLA to put down its arms or desist from military activity could be the most difficult part of the entire process.
Just what will happen now in Kosovo in the near and far future is impossible to discern. How vindictive Clinton will be in continuing to pursue Milosevich or seek to undo Yugoslavia in other ways is an unknown. What anyone can do about the KLA is uncertain.
It was disturbing to see the much publicized news footage of the meetings on the Macedonian border between NATO and Yugoslav officers. With much macho bluster, the NATO generals were trying to force their way into Kosovo before the UN mandate had been approved as outlined in the plan that the Yugoslav parliament had approved. The Yugoslavs were not resorting to delaying tactics; they were standing on the text of the agreement. Were NATO actions merely a propaganda show, seeking to put the best public face on what can certainly be seen as a NATO loss? Or was NATO seeking to subvert the signed agreement in an effort to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat and manipulate the UN into also becoming an appendage of NATO? It is frightening to contemplate the latter scenario.
In short, after two and a half months of bombing that devastated the province we were supposed to be saving, created enormous suffering for all Kosovars, Albanian and non-Albanian alike, and destroyed much of the economy of the rest of Yugoslavia, we are right to say that we could have been in March without ever dropping a bomb: a guarantee that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia, a negotiated local autonomy for the province with protections for all Kosovars, a UN peacekeeping presence, and demilitarization of the KLA terrorists.
In the meantime, Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Albright have squandered billions of dollars in NATO resources, killed thousands of Yugoslavs, mostly innocent civilians many of whom were children, and sacrificed the lives of many dozens, perhaps hundreds, of NATO pilots, airmen, and commandos. They have driven the Russians and Chinese closer together than they have been in decades, exposed internal weaknesses in NATO, and caused many to question the rationale for that organization. There is talk in Europe of creating a separate European military organization with its own separate command structure that will not include the United States, Great Britain, Canada, or Turkey.
The war has caused much revulsion among thoughtful people the world over. A Greek court ruled that Greece could not enter the war militarily because NATO had committed war crimes in violatation of the Geneva Conventions, whose articles are intended to protect civilians and make militaries wage war on other militaries. A group of legal experts from the United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, and Norway have presented a case to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to indict NATO leaders for war crimes. Nothing is likely to come of this, since that same tribunal has been sitting on a request for some time to condemn Croatia for war crimes in carrying out the brutal ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Serbs from that nation.
There is real danger of a reversion to global polarization. After the bombing started, the Ukrainian parliament voted unanimously to revert the country to its former nuclear status. The Ukraine supplied petroleum to Yugoslavia during the fighting. On April 30, a meeting of the Russian National Security Council approved the modernization of all strategic and tactical nuclear warheads. It decided to develop strategic low-yield nuclear missiles capable of pin-point strikes anywhere in the world.
Indian nationalists have now found new reason to continue their march toward nuclear armaments. China, needless to say, is demonstrating unaccustomed hostility to the U.S. and NATO. All over Latin America, previously subdued regimes have been decrying Yanqui imperialism once again. Even Muslim regimes, whom we might have expected to be vociferously pro-NATO in this war, have been subdued, understanding as they do the consequences of a world in which a rogue NATO seeks to replace the UN and a whole web of treaties and international understandings as the arbiter of international "peace" and international boundaries.
Albright and Clinton have done great harm to U.S. and NATO standing in the international community. They have alienated many other nations who fear NATO's efforts to define an entirely new role for itself in the international arena. They have destroyed the military mystique of NATO by suffering heavy losses in a failed attempt to defeat the Yugoslav military from the air. They have destroyed the mystique of Stealth technology. They ultimately resorted to a cowardly war against civilians in an effort to get their way, and still failed to achieve their "non-negotiable" terms at Rambouillet. And yet, they are now crowing about a great NATO victory.
Some experts have stated their belief that the Clinton-Albright team is the most incompetent foreign policy team in the U.S. in the last half century. This may be.
Mrs. Albright seems dominated by a Central European Catholic prejudice against the Serbs that has so warped her judgment as to make her ineffective as a negotiator or mediator, which requires some element of neutrality and willingness to understand the legitimate security concerns of all parties. Mr. Clinton's whole political career has been characterized by media manipulation, lying, bullying, vindictiveness, and buying people off. Applying these qualities in domestic politics has been bad enough. Applying them on the international scene can have huge consequences for the entire planet. Much of the world has now become frightened of the New World Order, including many of our own European allies.