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24 Madeleine’s War March 24–June 10, 1999 The NATO air campaign, Operation Allied Force, was authorized for humanitarian purposes in Kosovo. The stated objectives of the operation were to stop the violence, military actions, and repression; to remove Yugoslav security forces from Kosovo, enabling the deployment of an international military presence in Kosovo; and to promote the return of refugees.1 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright insisted from the beginning that diplomacy must be reinforced by the credible threat of force in Kosovo if it were to succeed in ending the violence. She cherished and cultivated her public image of toughness, and she was not inclined to compromise with Milosevic. Diplomacy had produced a relatively unified international position that FRY forces must leave Kosovo and that international civilian and military authorities should replace them in Kosovo. Once Milosevic rejected that outcome and launched a more intense crackdown in Kosovo, military action was the only option left other than backing down. After the Contact Group exhausted the diplomatic options, Albright engaged her European Contact Group colleagues each day by telephone to keep the group together as the NATO military operation unfolded. During the NATO operation, both her critics and her supporters referred to it as “Madeleine’s War.”2 General Wes Clark, as SACEUR, commanded the NATO air operation against the Serbian forces of Slobodan Milosevic, a man Clark knew personally. The NATO operation started gradually with strikes against VJ and MUP facilities in Kosovo and then expanded to include infrastructure and command-and-control facilities in Serbia, including high-value military and police targets in Belgrade. As the air campaign progressed, Washington began to debate proposals for ground combat forces. Clark’s pressure for the use of attack helicopters Madeleine’s War 225 in Kosovo created further tensions with Washington. In the end, neither a NATO land invasion nor the use of attack helicopters was necessary. The VJ never committed its air force against NATO or presented an effective defense to the NATO attacks. Belgrade’s primary response to NATO air operations was to launch a campaign to expel Albanians from Kosovo. Throughout the air campaign, Serbian paramilitaries, MUP, and armed forces rampaged through Pristina and the countryside, turning Kosovo into a land of horror for the Albanians. Their strategy was simple: kill or expel every Albanian in Kosovo, and they went about their bloody business with savage enthusiasm. The Serbian security forces swept through towns and villages throughout Kosovo, expelling people from their homes and forcing them on to evacuation corridors leading to Macedonia and Albania. They burned homes and villages and slaughtered Albanians individually or in groups, sometimes as family units. Tens of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees flooded into Macedonia and Albania. During the air campaign, Kosovo was the Racak massacre on a grand scale. No one knows the real number of dead, but one estimate places the number of Albanians killed by Serbian forces during the seventy-eight-day air campaign at 10,000.3 Ninety percent of the Albanians in Kosovo became Destruction of the FRY Ministry of Defense building in Belgrade during NATO air strikes against Serbian military and police targets during the air campaign to expel Serbian security forces from Kosovo in 1999. ( 226 Kosovo: War and Independence displaced persons or refugees of one kind or another. Estimates ran to about 800,000 refugees outside of Kosovo and 700,000 displaced in Kosovo. The strategy of brutality and expulsion against the Albanians in Kosovo was a critical misjudgment by Milosevic. The images of thousands of desperate people fleeing their homes only strengthened US and European resolve in NATO and ensured that Kosovo would reject any future relationship with Serbia. The NATO air campaign punished the Serbs and destroyed infrastructure but was not effective against the small formations of paramilitary and police units savaging Kosovo. NATO had no observers on the ground, and combat aircraft conducting their bombing raids above 15,000 feet for defensive reasons were not effective against these types of targets. Russia reacted harshly to the NATO air campaign after its strategy to stop NATO action through the UN Security Council failed. The Russian prime minister abruptly cancelled a meeting with the US vice president; Russia called for UN Security Council meetings on the operation; Moscow withdrew temporarily from the Contact Group deliberations; and President Yeltsin rejected an invitation to attend the NATO summit in Washington. Keeping Russia engaged in the international process on Kosovo was Albanian...


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