of the Belgrade Coup
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avgust 20, 2008
Ang Mo Gao <Ang.Mo@always.twa.ki> wrote:
The NATO Coup That Failed
None of the terms in the cease-fire are new. So what changed? NATO
finally decided to negotiate Yesterday, Yugoslav Generals signed a withdrawal agreement
that has finally brought an end to the war. At the press conference held just after the
document was signed, NATO General Jackson, who represented NATO in the military
negotiations, said it was "tragic" that "intransigence has made it
necessary for the international community to resort to airstrikes in order to reach the
Jackson has it basically right, only backwards. This whole affair has been a tragedy
attributable to intransigence: NATO's unwillingness to allow yield any authority to the
U.N. Security Council. And the damage the airstrikes have inflicted on NATO's credibility
is what has finally forced them back to the negotiating table.
Now that we have an armistice, its terms are not surprising. The peace deal is a
predictable halfway point between the NATO (Rambouillet) and Serb positions which have
been on the table since before any bombs began to fall. The question is, why couldn't this
agreement have been reached through negotiations at Rambouillet?
The answer is that NATO was unwilling to compromise at that time. There have been reports that the State Department purposefully
set the "bar too high" at Rambouillet, presenting Milosovic with a document they
knew he couldn't sign.
The crux of the haggling over the past week has clearly been about whether the body with
final authority over the international force deployed in Kosovo would be the U.N. or NATO,
and it seems reasonable to assume this was the "bar" which the U.S./NATO refused
to lower at Rambouillet.
Even previous to those negotiations it had been reported that Milosevic was willing to
allow a U.N. led force into Kosovo. Indeed, before
NATO had even threatened the use of force, he had already allowed 2,000 independent
observers to enter Kosovo to investigate potential crimes against humanity. These are not the actions of man with whom
it is impossible to negotiate.
It was NATO, not Milosevic, who sat down at the "negotiating table" with a gun in
its hand and issued an ultimatum. If, at that time, NATO had been
willing to negotiate on the point of U.N. vs. NATO "auspices," it seems very
possible that a compromise similar, or even preferable, to the one just signed could have
been reached without the terrible destruction wrought by NATO bombs and the rampage of
Let that sink in for a second. NATO preferred bombing to a U.N.-led peace mission. Why was
NATO so hard set on this point? Would a U.N. mission have really been so much worse than a
NATO one? Wouldn't having some sort of peacekeeping force inside Kosovo have been
preferable to none?
It can be argued that NATO had legitimate reasons for wanting its own troops in charge.
The list of U.N. peacekeepers failing to keep the peace is long. Srebinica and Rwanda are
just two shameful examples.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe NATO was willing to go to war simply to ensure
the success of a peacekeeping mission in an obscure corner of Europe. A more plausible explanation is that NATO was unwilling to accept
a U.N. mandate because it wanted to shake itself free of the U.N. Security Council, where
Russia and China enjoy veto power, and to grant itself the authority to take military
action as it sees fit.
After months of destruction and loss of life, NATO apparently came to realize the Serbs
and their allies would not acknowledge NATO authority. The alliance realized it would have to, at least formally, come crawling back to
the U.N. Security Council with its tail between its
legs, and ask to be bailed out of the mess it had
created. Once NATO conceded
defeat on this key point, an agreement on Kosovo was worked out in a matter of days.
That a U.N. Security Council resolution was
necessary to bring about a cease-fire is strong evidence in itself that NATO has bowed to
U.N. authority. Any remaining doubt can be cleared up by a look at
the text of the U.N. resolution, and the terms agreed to by the Serbian parliament.