March 24, 2011

Kosovo: March 24, 1999 - "There's no exit strategy - are we just going to do this week after week after week?"

Twelve years ago to the day, President Clinton addressed the nation, telling of the U.S. launching missiles and air strikes into Kosovo, attempting to dislodge the grip Slobodan Milosevic had over rebel forces fighting for independence and putting a halt to the atrocities inflicted on the population of ethnic Albanians.

Ivo Daalder (Brookings Institution): “This is one of the things that is worrisome. The objectives that are laid out here are . .remain quite uh, quite vague. There is the hope still, I believe, in the Administration and NATO that after some air strikes Mister Milosevic will come to his senses. It really hasn’t answered the question yet of what happens if he doesn’t.”

Robert Siegel (NPR): “One answer is that NATO will keep doing this, week after week after week. But then there is another question which is, should ground forces be introduced into Kosovo?”

Ivo Daalder: “Well then, even the question is, if one were to do this for weeks and weeks and weeks, and if we were to put ground forces in, what’s the purpose of doing so? If the purpose is to help the Kosovar Albanians, who have declared that, after a year of suffering horrendous attacks by Serb forces, that they want to be independent, are we ready to use our air power and perhaps our ground forces to protect what will become, in that case a quasi-independent if not real independent state of Kosovo? That is the question that hangs above the address of the President tonight.”


Here are items from two days - March 23rd and 24th. The 23rd is via the BBC World Service Newshour when talks had broken down and diplomacy looked like it had failed and the 24th broadcast is the Clinton address and news of the bombings.

The BBC Newshour asks the question of how NATO determines who gets military support, since the question was brought about that Kosovo was getting that many other countries, going through upheavals were not. Interesting, since the question is now being asked "why Libya and why not Yemen? And How about Ivory Coast?"

It's fascinating that history is so often repeated for our amazement, but I find it eerie that it so often happens around the same day.

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