NATO Hints at Ground War to Pressure Serbs

  • Share
  • Read Later
When your tactics aren't working, threaten worse. As NATO kept up its bombing of Serbia over the weekend, Washington sharply turned up the rhetoric. President Clinton wrote in the London Sunday Times that the removal of Slobodan Milosevic was essential to a solution to the Balkan crisis; Madeleine Albright and NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana told the talk shows that the Western alliance's refusal to consider ground troops might change in the future, and the U.S. also announced it was considering a maritime blockade of oil supplies to Yugoslavia. In an attempt to signal Milosevic that ground action may be looming, Clinton Sunday made a round of calls to the leaders of states bordering Serbia and claimed to have won their support for NATO's air campaign. Since the Serbs have heavily fortified their defense of the main land approaches into Kosovo, ground troops would most likely invade from adjacent countries.

Still, for now, a ground invasion is unlikely to be more than a threat. Getting the endorsement of Capitol Hill and the U.S. electorate for an action that would almost certainly involve significant casualties would be only the first hurdle. Some key European NATO members are unlikely to endorse an invasion. France, for example, challenged the U.S. maritime blockade plan on the grounds that there was no legal basis for such an action without a United Nations resolution, signalling fissures that may widen in NATO over further escalation of the Kosovo conflict. A ground invasion would also dramatically raise the pressure on Russia to intervene. But as almost four weeks of bombing has failed to persuade Milosevic to back down, NATO needs him to believe worse is coming.

Discuss the issues > >