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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Ever More Wild Bombs Won't Work




NATO may have started its aerial bombing campaign against Yugoslavia with the highest of motives, but war has predictably dragged it down into its slime.


While the great evil remains ethnic cleansing of Kosovo by Serbs, moral doubts are growing over increasing civilian casualties caused by NATO's attacks.


These doubts were raised Friday by UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson. Although she placed the main guilt with the Serbs, she cited NATO's failure to consider the "principle of proportionality" and "weigh the consequences" of its bombing campaign on Yugoslav civilians.


Initially, NATO's bombing campaign hit purely military targets, with the exception of a couple of tragic accidents. But as the war has dragged on and Yugoslavia has remained defiant, NATO has swung increasingly wildly with its punches.


Robinson is right to point out that NATO's attacks are now not motivated by any military logic. They are simply designed to inspire generalized terror.


But this underlines NATO's fundamental misjudgment of Serb nationalist sentiment. It was wrong to believe that a strategic bombing campaign would solve the Kosovo problem on its own. It is that much more wrong to believe that the solution is simply to ratchet up the air war and start World War II-style area bombing.


But assuming NATO cannot just give up and leave, then what else should it do?


First, NATO must immediately raise the stakes by starting the clock ticking on a ground war. Troops must be deployed on Serbia's borders. The consequences of a ground war would be horrible. But raising the threat of a ground war will bring real pressure to bear on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. If it works, it will be a much more humane form of persuasion than the current air campaign.


NATO should also drop its fairy tales about the shape of a post-war Kosovo. There will never be a multi-ethnic state in Kosovo after what has happened. If NATO wins, the Albanians will be allowed back in but the Serbs will have to leave. Kosovo will be mono-ethnic or partitioned.


This has implications for policy now. NATO has been reluctant to arm the militant and pro-independence Kosovo Liberation Army. Yet this would be another real way to pressure Belgrade. NATO should accept the KLA, warts and all, as its only available ally on the ground. The future Kosovo state will be a mess, no matter what. Just end the war.


NATO's war goals are growing ever hazier as its rhetoric and bombing steps up.


The air war is not working. Try something else.