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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal
June 14, 1999
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

"To Win The Peace..."

There remain grounds for caution, but it appears that the conflict between Belgrade and NATO over Kosovo is finally ending. Serb forces are leaving. An international security force, with NATO at its core, has started to deploy. Arrangements are being made and procedures put in place that will allow Kosovo's refugees and displaced to return to their homes. Preparations are under way for an international civil authority to provide essential services and promote the development of self-government for the people of Kosovo. We are actively consulting with Kosovar Albanian leaders in order to ensure a reconstruction effort that is as orderly and responsive as possible, given the very difficult circumstances.

Strong Leadership

None of this would have been possible if not for the strong leadership and unity demonstrated by President Clinton and other NATO leaders. The alliance succeeded through a determined and superbly executed military campaign and by adhering to several basic principles.

First, before resorting to force, NATO went the extra mile to find a peaceful resolution. When hostilities broke out, it was obvious to any unbiased observer that Slobodan Milosevic was responsible.

Second, the alliance formulated clear goals and stuck to them. These included the withdrawal of all Serb forces, the deployment of a credible international force, the return of refugees and the establishment of a democratic government for Kosovo. The objectives were ambitious and important enough to justify NATO's military campaign. But they also were limited enough to be achievable and to secure broad international support.

Third, the alliance stayed together. For more than 11 weeks, NATO held firm in its resolve against Mr. Milosevic despite setbacks and notwithstanding a loud chorus of critics, carpers and prophets of doom.

Fourth, the alliance backed its force with diplomacy. We took seriously Russia's concern, which we shared, about the impacts of a prolonged confrontation on the future of the region. And we joined with others in helping the frontline states cope with the flood of refugees fleeing Mr. Milosevic's terror. These steps helped produce an end to the fighting and will ease recovery over time from the political and social consequences of the conflict.

Most important, the alliance succeeded because its cause was right.

Beyond all the questions of tactics and politics was a fundamental question of justice. Would the world's greatest alliance stand by and watch an entire ethnic community expelled from its home in NATO's front yard? The answer had to be no.

Earlier this century, our predecessors confronted not only Hitler, but Nazism; not only Stalin, but communism. In recent weeks, we confronted not only Slobodan Milosevic, but ethnic cleansing. Mr. Milosevic has initiated four conflicts this decade. To re-establish stability, he had to be opposed. To serve justice, he and his henchmen had to be indicted. To ensure future peace, his policies must be condemned when and wherever they appear.

We emerge from this conflict neither satisfied nor complacent, but rather determined. There are far too many dead, traumatized and abused people for any other emotion. Added evidence of the extent of Mr. Milosevic's crimes may come to light in Kosovo's new dawn. And as we have learned in Bosnia, when conflict ends, the even more difficult job of winning the peace begins.

In Kosovo, the task of return and reconstruction will be substantial and long-term. Any effort by Mr. Milosevic to evade his obligations must be stopped cold. Refugees, anxious to go home, will be cautioned to wait until land mines are marked and supplies for their shelter and sustenance are in place. The security force must protect all Kosovars, ethnic Albanian and Serb alike. The Kosovo Liberation Army must keep its pledge to demilitarize. The international community -- with Europe in the lead -- must plant the seeds of economic renewal. We must persist until a secure, united and democratic Kosovo replaces the sad and ravaged area of today.

Even as we work to rebuild Kosovo, we and our allies are thinking more broadly about the future of the region. With the European Union playing a big role, we are launching a strategy for the stabilization of all Southeast Europe. Our purpose is to do for the Balkans what the Marshall Plan did for Europe's West 50 years ago, and what the West has done in helping Central Europe to democratize in this decade.

Our intent is to move ahead on all fronts to assist the nations of Southeast Europe in their efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, reform their economies, promote the rule of law and integrate themselves into the mainstream of the Euro-Atlantic community. The door to participation in this strategy will be open to every nation in the region that is willing to walk through it, including Serbia, when it has leaders who are democratic, law-abiding and desirous of living in peace.

The crisis in Kosovo should cause a re-examination of the paradigms of the past. As the world has changed, so have the roles of key institutions such as the EU, NATO and the United Nations. And so have American interests. In today's world of deadly and mobile dangers, gross violations of human rights are everyone's business.

As for the use of force, Kosovo tells us only what we should have already known. Yes, in confronting evil and otherwise protecting our interests, force is sometimes required. No, as before Kosovo, it is not wise to formulate assumptions based on any single experience about exactly when and how force should be applied. In coping with future crisis, the accumulated wisdom of the past will have to be weighed against factors unique to that place and time. This is why foreign policy is more art than science, and how chief executives earn their pay.

Diplomacy and Force

NATO's leaders used diplomacy backed by the threat of force in trying to render conflict in Kosovo unnecessary. They used diplomacy in support of force to ensure that allied goals would be achieved. Finally, they used diplomacy to help to bring the need for force to an end.

Our responsibility now is not to sift through the debris of past arguments, but rather to get on with the jobs of reviving Kosovo, stabilizing the Balkans, and building -- at the end of this troubled century -- a Europe without walls, fully at peace and wholly free.

[End of Document]

Blue Line

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