NATO Must Prevail

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent prognosis of a “dim” and “dismal” future for NATO has triggered much debate, but it could well prove optimistic. June, it turns out, marks another milestone on the alliance’s uncertain path: its operation in Libya has now surpassed in length the one in Kosovo 12 years ago.

DENVER – US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s recent prognosis of a “dim” and “dismal” future for NATO has triggered much debate, but it could well prove optimistic. June, it turns out, marks another milestone on the alliance’s uncertain path: its operation in Libya has now surpassed in length the one in Kosovo 12 years ago. After 78 days in 1999, Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic gave up, while Libya’s Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has yet to get the message – and may in fact be getting the wrong message.

For those of us who were engaged in the Kosovo crisis, the Libya intervention seems like déjà vu. In the skies of Serbia and Kosovo, NATO warplanes attacked target after target, not to support the liberation of territory or in furtherance of a strategic bombing campaign, but rather to change Milosevic’s mind. To be sure, denying Milosevic the means to engage in “ethnic cleansing” was added as a rationale in the days after the campaign began, but the real purpose was to convince him that he had to allow NATO forces into Kosovo. It was a classic strategy/policy mismatch.

No war is without its list of false assumptions, and the Kosovo campaign had its share. Perhaps the most important was the memorable – but erroneous – view that Milosevic would give up after a few days of bombing. Instead, like many a leader in such circumstances, he entered a bunker, both figuratively and literally, and stayed there with little communication. Meanwhile, NATO planners desperately sought to identify targets that would either deny him the means of ethnic cleansing, or, more often, encourage him to reconsider his position.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/H0MmHM6;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.