strategic laboratory of the 21-st century."
By Eric de La Maisonneuve
If it were still need to prove it, the conflict, which began in the Balkan, would be sufficient to show that we have come in a new period of the History from the beginning of the 90's. The end of Soviet Union and the extraordinary activity, which followed it, mean, in effect, a change of epoch. We may measure its consequences in plenty of relations, namely, by a redistribution of maps, which has shaken what we may still call the European geopolitics. The conflict, which has torn the Balkan by cutting up a part of the ex-Yugoslavia, is emblematic with this situation. This is represented today as follows:
The European strategic center has moved from Germany on the south and the Balkan zone; Europe has found out on its territory one of these identities civil wars, which were kept for the Third world in baldly decolonization and development. The USA, moving from Bavaria to Bosnia the gravitational center of their presence and cares in Europe, were obliged to represent a way considerably new to think and conduct the conflict.
From Germany to the Balkan.
It is a paradox, that the Balkan region, making to occur again problems of nationalities of the 19-th century, obliges to invent solutions of the 21-st century, such those who have been undergone more, than tried for eighty years, were dramatically inefficient. Besides, political, strategic and technical conditions in which sets the Balkan question today, have changed deeply: the events of the 20-th century are carried out by there.
It is necessary to recollect that the Balkan question, despite its permanence, was mostly latent from June, 28, 1914 when the Serb-Bosnian Gavrilo Principe has killed in Sarajevo the duke Francois-Ferdinand de Habsbourg, successor of the Austrian Empire, starting by this the infernal mechanism conducting to the World War, that is to the big fire of Europe, then to its shock and at last to the Cold war. After this collective round of madness as ruinous, as catastrophic for almost all the European continent, we have returned to the initial place.
A returning rendered possible in view of the settlement of the German problem. It was, do not forget, the central problem of the 20-th century and the basis of World Wars, including Cold war from which we just hardly got out. The German problem is it finally settled? Undoubtedly it is as to northern and western relations of neighborhood of Germany, in view of the European embrace. Probably for a long time also in the east with the anchoring initiated by the countries of the central Europe in the European Union and mainly in the NATO, with the intermediary position of former Russian provinces, as - Byelorussia and Ukraine. Internally, the German democracy, despite of the instability inherent to this political system and the vulnerability caused by social types and modern customs of life, is placed under a close supervision and seems under the covering of any sight back; while, for the rest - diplomacy, protection - it is framed in the Atlantic organization under the American dependence. To tell the truth, Germany has autonomy, which borders guaranty the safety of its neighbors.
Remains the South, behind the particular Austrian case, this Balkan south who is as a thorn in the European left leg. In addition, this problem seems finally more complicated, thus it is more difficult to settle, that the German problem which was "mainly territorial" and, by virtue of it, subjected as we have seen in regulation of the States.
Speaking of the Balkan, where live together and mix up peoples of various and sometimes, opposed sources, religions, languages and cultures, thus the questions are put there less in terms of "power " than in terms of "influence". Everything is there: that which was made possible by "relation of forces" as to the German problem, appears absolutely invalid in case of the Balkan question, of a different nature. And this question is put in a persevering, even dramatic, manner from the beginning of the 90's when it was proved, that the decomposition of Yalta compact was going to mention all the artificial or risky structures connected to regulation of two World Wars, since Yugoslavia of Tito, itself successor of the kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes. As a matter of fact, from the disappearance of Tito in 1980, the future of Yugoslavia did not stop to worry the chancelleries; It lived all the same, near to the wall of Berlin and the confrontation with the Warsaw pact the length of the "Iron Curtain", not a secondary question but mainly a school exercise.
From the fall of the wall November 9, 1989, passing by the signature of the Contract 4+2 September 12, 1990 in Moscow, the German unit, effective October 3 of the same year, is going to concretize, by this amazing impact of accelerator of the history, the settlement of the main European problem. It is also, let's not forget, the time of war of the Gulf (August 1990 - February 1991), demonstration of a change of epoch and a mark of found out freedom of action but as we shall see further, with means and methods of classical war.
These last two hardly digested events and as by an effect of compensation of strategic disorder, that they devote one and another, starts the phenomenon of dislocation of Yugoslavia. It was certainly involved under the crushing blows, provoked by the new President Milosevic, but the recognition by Germany from the end of 1991 of Slovene and Croatian independence only might increase the pressure and push Serbia to play à-bank, starting by radicalize its nationalistic position.
On the one hand, Germany of Chancellor Kohl, the best pupil of the European class, conducts its unification by forced marches arranging the calmed relations in its close European environment; from the another, Yugoslavia, getting rid of risks to stir up ancient quarrels between Europeans and mainly to restore, by way of Serbia, a disputed situation with Russia of Yeltsin, in search of a new international legality.
For the trustees of Europe and owners of the post-Soviet world who are the USA, the hesitation to involve in the Yugoslavian business will not be more longer than in their habit: three years, as in 1914-17, as in 1940-43. They will dare then to change the course the European strategic area of interests from Germany to the zone of the Balkan. It will be necessary to expect to be sure, on the one hand, of the final normalization of the German position as well as of the perpetuation of the Atlantic Union authorized in Rome in November 1991. On the other hand of the reality of deterioration of the position in Yugoslavia as the inability of Europeans or the United Nations Organization to found an issue which could guarantee the safety of this region, and beyond the European calmness. Because such is the stake for the USA: no question for prevailing power to take the least risk concerning the safety of a continent so complex and confusing, which has not stopped, by its contradictions and antagonism to make the life, impossible and dangerous to all world; but not question also of leaving these intolerable countries to play with fire, that is alone in front of their own disorders.
Certainly the ratification of the contract of Maastricht, confirming the obligation of the European union in the way of partnership, even of American liberal model, calmed the USA and allowed them to examine their transatlantic fall. But the persevering attempts of some European countries to carry out "a foreign and European safety policy ", in any case their marks of care of political independence increased with those of economic success, induced on the contrary the Americans to mistrust and thus to keep a leg in Europe and to continue to play a protecting role.
If the position was normalized in Germany, it was not so in Russia, power deeply disorganized and wounded in its self-esteem by its recent fall, which reactions, as those of the bear who symbolizes this country, are frequently not stipulated. In spite of anything, the American presence in Germany - besides much expensive - was not really justified to keep some logistical bases and structures of headquarters necessary for a probable increase in power. Thus they should reorient their device and find a new zone of anchoring.
The damage of the general situation in Bosnia was going to give not only an occasion but also the obligation to carry out this strategic fall of Germany to Yugoslavia. The forces of the United Nations Organization appeared really unable to fill in the "impossible" and paradoxical mission of preservation of the world in a disputed and confusing environment, without authority, without freedom of action and thus without acceptance concerning events.
So convinced of the necessity to remain in Europe and to be obliged to interfere with the Balkan conflict, the USA are going to be diplomatically employed (agreements of Dayton - October 1994) then military in a growing way till the events which have devastated Kosovo from March till June 1999. The American introduction in the Balkan, since 1994 is undoubtedly based on these reasons. It is also connected to the new strategic importance of this zone in the geopolitics configuration of post- Cold War time.
The Yugoslavian strategic unit.
It seems useless to come back on historical vulnerability of the Balkan, "soft stomach" and "time bomb" of Europe, zone of borders and confrontations of three authorities disappeared today but remaining district of meeting of various cultures and long opposed civilizations. Thinking to fix this instability by political authoritative decisions, the main actors of the 20-th century have established the Balkan in a provisionally favorable to the deterioration of their vulnerability. They are those who make today of this region in danger a zone of European strategic interest, justifying, that the first world power is interested in it too close.
On this basis of historical vulnerability, new relation of forces and, in the consequence, new reasons of violence have increased.
This reputation of the Balkan region to be "the soft stomach" of Europe is worsened by the importance that Mafia has taken in these territories. And among this population manhandled by the events was established organizations of the Mafiosi, network of trade which are interested in particular in the most dangerous and most profitable consumer goods: drugs and arms. The weakness of social-political structures of the majority of countries of the region since the Soviet wreck favored to the growth of these organizations up to the global size. The incomes, which the archaic and out of breath national economy are unable to give, trade of a drugs, arms, vehicles and ... persons are going to receive much. So a big part of military effort of the countries of ex-Yugoslavia (they quote two billions dollars) is supplied with resources of the trade of arms, occurring of the liquidation of forces of the Warsaw pact, by transit and selling of drugs (heroin and hashish) coming from Afghanistan and from the close Turkey. The organizations of the Mafia and "the big criminality" which use secretly the Balkan instability, have all interest in preservation of a chaotic position; they support it certainly in Serbia, in Bosnia, in Kosovo, in Albania and undoubtedly also in the neighbor countries, in Hungary for example. This rotten position is obviously very bothering at the doors of the liberal European union and, by virtue of it, very permeable for all these microbes. The improvement of the Balkan zone may be considered thus by the Americans, on the behalf of their trusteeship on the European safety, as a task, as important, as the cleaning which they try to begin in their own zone of strategic interest, Caribbean and Central America.
The Balkan is a "hinge" in the joint of the Islamic world whose role, which plays its petroleum supply for the "economic safety" of the liberal world, is very well known. They are in the immediate neighborhood of Turkey, one of the key states on which count the USA to soften "the shock of civilizations", mainly the confrontation between the Christian West and the Islamic East informed and dreaded by Samuel Huntington. The persistence which the American responsible use to encourage the connection of Turkey to the European union, shows the level of their worries in this respect.
The former Yugoslavia is also "a zone buffer" nearby direct to the former Russian Empire, a balcony on Black Sea and the Caucasian region in full boiling up. This advanced post seems essential to supervision of Russia, but it is also a "constraining" for this destabilized power and a sedative for the countries of the European southeast (Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia) which remain entangled in the falsities of the communistic era. As long as there will be pseudo Marxist regimes in this region, the liberal democracy will not find there its marks. The USA as Europe has all the interest in the pacification and in development of this peninsula, the best antidotes to the poisons of the Mafiosi, the Islam or predators. On the political plan, it may seem to them useful to neutralize Russian influence in orthodox Serbia to provoke the infringement of connections of joint liability of the Slavic world forcing the Serbs to support the responsibility of the atrocities of a really intolerable conflict. In addition, in this type of civil war, by a revolting definition, it is not inaccessible to the "powers" to manipulate extremism and to strengthen excesses.
Despite of the factors that seem resolute and the importance that should dress since then an American intervention in the conflict, we understand the fluctuations always strong of the USA to undertake in such a bog. Not only the position in ex-Yugoslavia is of a rare complexity, but mainly the forms of the conflict that began and established there - a civil war - might not have other issue, than an absolute and common defeat - the capitulation - of one of camps. At least it is the historical experience, which we have, confirmed with conflicts of this type with which we were mixed in these last fifty years. When we think of the fluctuations of the Americans to bee employed on this type of conflict, it is necessary to recall the Vietnamese accident, and also all military failures, which have noted their interventions in Iran, in Lebanon, more recently in Somalia.
The Yugoslavian conflict, as the most part of those who have blooded the planet for thirty years and mainly since the global explosion of the 90's, is a civil war. It means, that the question is about an internal conflict, about a process of division of populations lifted one against others, in which interests of the main characters are in constant deterioration of position and not in calm; the basic purpose being the disappearance of the "another", whether it is, according to camps, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Kosovan, Macedonian... It is not useful to come back on events which have filled in newspapers for seven years and which were lived in their horror almost directly by hundreds millions of spectators - viewers. What is necessary to remember from this conflict, in its excessive characteristics, it is the impossibility to overcome by classical means or, military action, much less by diplomacy. In front of the powerlessness of the States and of what they name the international Community to normalize this type of situation, the democracies have invented the "humanitarian to calm their consciousness and moved it in the front of the stage, having nothing better, to show their difficulty and their compassion. Having told this, taken between several fires, frequently hostages of one and others, the humanitarians were instrumented in their protecting body by all main characters; they have served here to supply the conflict, there to disguise it, in the other place to reject it, everywhere to make impenetrable a situation already tolerably confusing.
The first characteristic of modern civil wars is to sow horror among the populations; these one are the purposes, the hostages and the victims of the conflict, in which they will not be saved of any cruelty, the last purpose being to force them to give up, to lead in exile, which was translated into the present language by the expressive formulation "ethnic cleaning ". By the type of used means - torments, rapes, robberies, fires, short punishments... - infringes support hatred and make inconceivable any reasonable issue. To be put as the intermediary in such context, as the United Nations Organization tried to do for twenty times for ten years in Africa, in Central America, in Cambodia or in ex-Yugoslavia, speaks, as we have mentioned, of the "impossible" mission. It even has happened that the intervention has still worsened the position as it was ascertained in Somalia or, would allow only a short armistice before a new sharp increase of violence in Haiti, in Angola or in Liberia. It seems, that to such type of conflicts to which they may not oppose effectively the force of arms, lot of "powers" are till now unable to find a solution. When these disorders touch about twenty on fifty African countries or some countries of far Asia as Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, or even Latin American countries judged secondary, the constant members of Security Council as well as the western public opinion give the impression to be on their side. Actually, the one as well as the others are forced to consider that these disasters are undoubtedly a "necessary evil "; the important thing is that it does not break the functioning of the "market"!
Antidote to the civil war.
To be a success, that is to be able to impose the point of view of the third party in the conflict, remain the obsession of the authorities for already fifty years. None of the asymmetric conflicts, in which they were involved, has allowed them to concretize their military superiority. Everywhere, in Indochina then in Vietnam, in Algeria as in Afghanistan, but in the other place also, for ten years, the guerrilla have finished by having the last word and the triumph of their theses. To some extent, the modern conflictness devotes the success of the "weak" and the revolutionaries, making naked the borders of so-called overflow powers, with their classical forces and doctrines of disability of work. The history of local conflicts of last decades is that of double failure - political and military - of the main world actors. There are to it three main bases.
The first consists, as it has emphasized in the case of ex-Yugoslavia, to establish the conflict in the heart of the populations and to imply them absolutely. The purpose is to make, in these conditions, the participant armed forces practically invalid. The discrimination between "civil persons" and combatants is rendered especially difficult that the conflict is where are gathered the populations, that is in cities. All militaries know it of experience: the city war is a reef as, being locked, the attacking will lose any ability of management and its freedom of action, except to suppose to destroy cities and to banish their inhabitants, quick decisions and rarely practice today, in a counterexample to the city Groszny - it is not proved however that it serves the Russian strategy.
The second is not to take into account any agreements, laws, rules, conventions and codes which could be negotiated within centuries to protect the civil population and which, sometimes, have allowed them to abstain from being exposed to the most brutal excesses. Canceling any brake in violence, even in barbarity, the instigators of the conflict are located on a territory on which the representatives of democracies may not purchase them. The opponent dictates then a changeable and wild "rule of game" which do only its blasting interests determine. We have well seen during the war of Algeria, up to what degree this Gap of problematic was penalizing, and the dangers, which it put on those who dared to be released from it.
It is paradoxical, the third basis, is about to master (skill) the public opinion and thus about the favor of mass media. We recollect in this respect the flattering image which was given by the red Khmers, until they have realized - by the evidence of the Cambodian genocide - how much some journalists and intellectuals were poisoned. All these identity conflicts are based on objective bases: absurd borders spoiled regimes, shocking poverty... It is enough to make it known by exposing the initial violence, which was made to the population, and to protest, for the name of this initial injustice, the "rights of peoples on self-determination". By virtue of constituent principles of our own democracies, it is difficult for the public opinion, manipulating and changeable in effect, to resist to the attention, even suffering the excess of violence made for the name of freedom.
So, that their fomenting will master these three parameters of modern civil conflicts - city war, usual absence of game, public opinion - it will be vain for democracies to try to finish it. The American obligation in the Balkan since 1994 assumed in such a manner that USA were able to carry out a "strategy" such as they were provided to manage to destroy the course of the conflict and to impose an "other way to do war ".
For this purpose it was necessary to them, on political and strategic plans to have free hands having proved the absolute incompetence - even the dangerousness - of any structure extending from the United Nations Organization, then to receive the absolute and doubtless domination inside the NATO. The expansion of the Yugoslavian conflict in Kosovo, which was presumable from the beginning of events in 1989, was going to give them an occasion. The conflict of Kosovo from March till June 1999 is probably the first demonstration, for almost more than fifty years, carried out by the USA under (artificial) shelter of the NATO, of the ability found out of the "power " repeatedly to impose its point of view and to rehabilitate the force in an asymmetric conflict.
They have much spoke of the war of the Gulf, assumed to be the first "true cold war" of the post Cold war time. It is doubtless on the historical plan, the conflict happening approximately one year after the fall of Berlin wall; but it is absolutely erroneous on the strategic plan. The war of the Gulf is a demonstration of military power and of the international connection (more than fifty incorporated States, including the Arabian countries) which has allowed to the USA, by a Hollywood expansion of forces "to whistle" the end of the Cold war, to mean the disappearance of Russia as superpower and their own world hegemony. The collision was strongly classical, that is army against army, and finally limited enough: the most part of the struggling allied soldiers have not heard one shot! It was also that we may call the big management, exercise, especially favorable for research of new arms, simultaneously exact and fired at distance. They have begun to suspect on the epoch, that if they had naturally the efficiency required on a battlefield, they would have mainly an extreme ability to brake and paralyze the energy sources, electric systems and all electronic networks without which any modern company may not hope to survive. The war of the Gulf, unstable confrontation of two armies on a caricature of a battlefield, far from being a modern conflict, tries strangely to restore the conditions of classical fights of previous periods. It does not represent any of the difficulties and the terrible contradictions (listed more highly) of conflicts of the third type (neither nuclear, nor classic) which are the civil wars. It is not thus reproducing the model "Schwartzkopf", of the name of ally forces in war of the Gulf, that is with the big competition of armed forces, that the conflict of Kosovo might find a decision.
To invent the "strategy of disappointment."
The phenomenon of decomposition of Yugoslavia represents in exchange all the characteristics of these civil wars, which we are able neither to finish nor to find to it a satisfactory issue, for already soon half a century. There are the same components, as in other conflicts of this type mixed locally: a multi-ethnic installation imposed and subjected; a social-Marxist political system, archaic and absolutely far from the popular realities; a desperate cultural and economic backwardness... And it is in a context of brutal liberation of peoples and individuals, in an environment of aspiration to the democracy and to the development.
The comprehension by the population of such a discrepancy between the position, which was made to them and their lawful aspirations, might just provoke their opposition to an out-of-date, but rigid political system, decided to keep the authority. This system, from its part, has not realized that the wind of the history has changed.
To interfere in such conditions assumed that it was rethought what should be named "the general strategy" and in such a manner were considerably changed "the military purposes"; in consequence were adapted the conditions of obligation as well as the carried out means.
As to the purposes, the main strategic change is to leave "the idea of victory ". To win in such conflict is useless and illusory, as the war does not exist really because of absence of enemy in usual sense of the term. "To do war, it is necessary to be two", according to the Napoleon formulation. In internal conflicts if the actors of drama do not miss, in exchange, it is difficult to specify the enemy, which would mean that they have chosen their camp and have made a decision. Except the desire to restore the conditions of "a true war" and to set fire to the continent - in this case Europe -, such a facility is rendered absurd in a conflict of this type and especially in the supersensitive zone of the Balkan. If it is not about to win in a military way an enemy, the purpose remain all the same to obtain the termination of internal hostilities, to stop the violence and if it is possible to restore a legal status.
The second new thing of strategic order is to avoid any risk. In effect, if the conflict of the Balkan may put at sake as we have mentioned it, "strategic" interests in more or less close terms, in no measure it may affect the vital interests of USA. There is no question in these conditions to agree American human losses even if a priori this may seem contradictory with the concept of military obligation, which the own is the use of force and the share of risk, which this includes. It is necessary to take into consideration in this respect the American public opinion, which, through the mass media, would show in the last resort its disagreement. It is what they call "the Vietnamese syndrome" which remains undoubtedly one of the most compulsory factors of the American political activity. In the general, the idea itself to supply "the fire of war" makes horror to the democratic countries, which could measure during one-century the scandalous and useless character of these collective victims. It is necessary to add to this basis the aging of the western population, which makes them especially economical to their youth, and thus constrained in any physical obligation toward their soldier.
The refusal to take risks in the intervention is not limited to human losses. It concerns, moreover, the obligations of result: if victory is a surpassed concept, in the opposite the failure is unacceptable. The intervention should occur only for certain, with hundred percents of chances of success, that assumes to have time, favor of public and means of a real efficiency.
The third change, coherent with the precedents: it is excluded to try to win or to occupy a territory, with dangers of confrontation and stuck in the mud, which would occur in such a way of auctioning. In exchange, it will be necessary to reach - such is the last purpose - to imposing a presence and to carry out a trusteeship which long-term results should facilitate the returning to a legal status.
But the first the condition to be carried out is to provide a military "necessary" intervention. Not only it should not be condemned neither by the allies, nor by the mass media, nor by public opinion, but also it should "be asked for" by all actors and personages of dramas. To reach this resolute degree, it is necessary to know to expect (and may be to provoke) on the territory a position considered intolerable by all sides at presence; in this case, the reference was compelled about one million inhabitants of Kosovo of Albanian origin. It is better understood then in what "logic" enters the process of running away of these Inhabitants of Kosovo, their never-ending expectation on Macedonian and Albanian borders, the surprising sluggishness which have given ONG and the international Community - usually more quick - to collect them. In short, what we might consider with cynicism as to portray human tragedy, but a tragedy necessary for the justification and for the success of the American obligation.
As it is there the critical moment in modern internal conflicts. No power may interfere with it effectively and with the support of public opinion if it has not the right with it. Only fair wars are acceptable and tolerable. As, the "just cause" was already fifty years on the same side, that of the instigators of civil wars. Whichever were their ideologies, their projects and their excesses, all occurred as if they were always right. In these impracticable conditions, we went in disaster in all our obligations because in the eyes of public opinion we were mistaken and, by virtue of it, all our actions even the most justified, were soiled. The force, contrary to the recommendation of Pascal, appeared as support of the injustice. The right was, almost because of necessity, in the camp of weak; connected with the immorality of means, it decided finally the success. It was this offer maintained for a long time, which at last should be destroyed in the case of Kosovo. So, in relation to the intolerable excesses, however worsened by the first bombardments of planes of the NATO in March 1999, we might justify the necessities to interfere.
After the excess during the World wars and the report of their absolutely negative result, the nations, because of inability to limit them, tried to forbid wars. If they have practically achieved this purpose by the negotiations and the deterrence in the case of interstate relations, in exchange they have failed to eradicate the violence of peoples. Powerless to oppose to them for the name of their interests, they have no other issue than to interfere for the name of law. Therefrom this recent actualization of the concept of fair war, renewed by philosophers, theologians and former moralists (we think of manuscripts of Thomas d ' Aquinas and Grottos), illustrated in the very interesting work Michael Walker "Fair and unfair Wars", Berlin, 1999).
For the first time since several decades, the situation in Kosovo in March 1999 unites necessary and sufficient conditions that a military intervention seemed easily playable with serious chances to achieve purposes such as we have shown highly. But the conceptual bases and circumstances are not sufficient. It is necessary also to be capable to accept a course and to carry out means, which allow to achieve these purposes in optimum conditions that were mentioned.
For the Americans, the main confidence of political support and of freedom of action is in the Organization of the North Atlantic contract. Legalized in its function of regional safety by the agreements of Rome in 1991, the NATO allows to the USA a direct intervention; they have the absolute domination of the Union, assuming the essential responsibilities concerning the organization of command and logistical abilities. Besides, their almost full monopoly in the space requirement allows them to impose their point of view to the deprived and to trap Allies. Taking collegiate decisions, which assume a principle of the Organizations will be an article, which the USA will use to conduct in reality the conflict absolute at their convenience, conscious, as they are that the unity of command is the first condition of any military obligation. Only France, as in its habit, will resist here or there to this absolute control by the Americans over the intervention, demanding the maintaining on the zone its Navies, refusing to accept the "treatment" by air way of any purposes ... But it remains limiting even if it protects national pride. Actually, the European forces, because of absence of technical militaries means of the level of those of the Americans, will have in the operation a very much-limited role, about 20 %.
The Americans are going to undertake thus what they have failed until then to do in the most recent conflicts in which they were involved: to oppress and paralyze the population, to deprive it with its resources, to forbid to it any collective activity, and finally to reach its ability of resistance and to force it to be weakened taken; to convince it to refuse from political and military system which has conducted it in this catastrophic position. To repeat the formulation "fishes in water" of Mao: to take away water from a fish before to change the jar ... what Paul Virilio calls "Strategy of disappointment" (Editions Galilée, 1999), which is always just the "returning" for the benefit of democracies of the revolutionary war conducted with such a constant success by the infringes of "world order" and that they have undergone with such troubles. A reversal rendered possible by the arrival of a new category of arms high technology.
To be able to create this "chaos in the opponent camp", the forces of the NATO are obliged to aim at some number of purposes, such as they are described by Laurent Murawiec in his article on the Cyberwar, appeared in the number of December 1999 of the magazine AGIR : infrastructures of transport; management and distribution of water, gas, electricity; telecommunication networks; bank and financial networks; capacities of electromagnetic transfer. For this purpose, the Americans are going to carry out "methods, strategies and means of computer and electronic war, informational and mental war, which set makes the ciberwar, translation of information warfare ".
The military means which will allow to destroy or paralyze all these purposes, are known since the war of Gulf where they were tested: these are, on the one hand, "incapacitating" arms (bomb in graphite, for example, which brakes electric systems), on the other hand, arms of "neutralization", such as torpedo or laser guided bombs, which metric accuracy allows to reach the punctual purposes as posts of command and control, that is the head of networks and the heart of systems. All these arms are delivered on distance and obviously anonymously, practically with no risk for the "employee".
Due to the terrible efficiency of these means of destruction, the ground military obligation - by nature risked and casual - appears useless. It is the basis on which any ground attack was not programmed in Kosovo during the term of air bombardments to try to interrupt on the territory the excess accomplished by the Serbian forces against the population of Albanian origin. This attack was however asked at big shouts by numerous politicians, military heads and expert. Within the framework of the strategy determined by the Americans, this ground attack would be giving opposite effect; not only it would bring nothing more, but to render even more confuse and difficult the situation, made to the inhabitants of Kosovo who were taken and squeeze between two fires, but mainly, it would allow the Serbian forces to restore the conditions, favorable for their "protection of national territory", dissipating on the territory and in the middle of the population, pursuing the Allies and obliging them to enter into their game. Armies of the NATO would take big dangers, beginning with that of "military failure", which was precisely excluded in several assumptions, of which we stated above. It was really careless to underestimate the ability of resistance on its own territory of the Yugoslavian army, certainly manhandled since 1992, but formed on this military type and undoubtedly determined to battle; we should not also overestimate the pugnacity of the American and European armies, whose operative efficiency could not be measured in this sort of collision for decades. The critical reports established by the English command in December 1999 on the condition of English forces, involved in Kosovo allow a big discretion in this respect.
By "putting on knees" the Serbian population and by "bludgeoning" the vital points of Yugoslavian forces - police and army -, it was enough to expect, that, exhausted and discouraged, they make pressure upon the authority of Slobodan Milosevic, that he understands the necessity to leave this party. The unique risk subjected by such strategy of "expectation" was, that it has no time to receive searched results. In effect, the increase and the term of bombardments might not abstain from involving some number of "misses". They were strongly limited as a whole - the interests are not considerable -, but some "lateral damage" subjected by the civil population, and in the more general manner the sufferings that they have transferred of deprivations, were easily suitable by propagation and might involve at any time - always through the extremely changeable mass media - a sharp one reversal of western public opinion. It was the failure of the enterprise, and probably the obligation to come back to more classical operational ways which dangers and inefficiency we know precisely. This catastrophe was avoided by few and it, despite of few convincing dodges of the campaign of communication, conducted by the presenter star of the NATO, Jamie Shea.
Russian diplomacy had to come in support of bombardments to decide the Serbian president to let off Kosovo. It is probable, that diplomatic arguments of the Americans in relation to Russian, and of these ones in relation to Serbs, were obliged to be "convincing enough" to facilitate the issue of the conflict. This point is important to measure the borders of this "strategy of disappointment" or of interdiction in which it is acquired, that the armed forces are henceforth-just means among others; it is sufficient to carry away "decision".
Despite of the extreme pressure which characterized June 1999 due to these misses and to the impatience of opinions, the Americans have managed to keep up to the end the coherence of the Union and the belief in the public opinion, that they had the right for them, conducting simultaneously a fair and pure war. These are the characteristic, extremely fragile and disputable, which make of the American obligation in Kosovo the "first" in modern conflicts.
The critics that have not stopped to be issued on "strategists of the NATO" or on the competence of General Clarck, commander-in-chief of the ally forces, seem today especially displaced. The most part of experts and observers insist to make a "Clausewitz's vision" of war, for them necessary the report of military forces measured on a battlefield in which the physical comparison of soldiers remains the deciding parameter. Destroying these premises and shaking the strategic approach to this type of conflict, the Americans have finally of fashioned this archaic vision; at the same time, they have begun to invent the war of the 21-st century. The one, who just struggled in the Balkan within the decade 90, might really to prefigure the bait of a new form of war collisions in which arms would be more amplifiers of understanding, than reduction-unit forces. As it has been made at their time by the wars of Italy, anticipating therefrom the classical conflicts of two centuries that followed.
Instability of results.
However, we must not be mistaken; the conflict of Kosovo was only a laboratory, a research on the territory of the ideas issued in the think tanks and the staffs beside Atlantic Ocean. These should be displaced in their political context. The war of Kosovo was not conducted and dared by the Americans only for the satisfaction of restoring the "glory of their arms".
It has also a double political role: those to set for long the American strategic superiority; those to block for as long the shy attempts of European independence in this central area.
On the first point, the USA has placed the crossbeam very high. This new strategy is fundamentally American; it assumes to manage to be carried out, not only technological means of information war, but also that some number of compulsory conditions concerning the geopolitics and strategic environment was incorporated. We see well for example, that the Russians, despite of their desire to be inspired by the American circuit, are incapable to reproduce it in the Chechen Republic. At the beginning, because they have no military means, which would allow remaining "remote" of the battle-field; they were obliged to go to be pasted on the territory, where the terrible Chechen guerrilla subjects to them the law. Then, because they may not oppress more a population, already deprived of its infrastructures and its resources, since then tolerant (politically) in the phenomenon "general deterrence" placed in highlight by Paul Virilio in the case of Kosovo. At last, because the Russians have not of their convinced "just cause" and the validity of their reason; in effect, the responsibility of "the Chechen terrorists demonstrated" in fatal attempts which have saddened Moscow at the end of 1999, is instead of being proved; they speak even in this respect about a possible special services for occasions of Russian internal policy. On the contrary, the war conducted in the Chechen Republic by the Russian republishes with the same chances of failure the military practice of last decades. In these conditions, it seems rather obvious, that an enlistment and failure of Russian army will finish the present intervention in the Chechen Republic.
The case of Kosovo should remain, as long as possible a "copy" of new strategic capacities of the American power; but it is not an exported "model" in all cases of conflicts as it remains as fragile as incomplete. In effect, the American strategy has not allowed (no more that in Iraq in 1991) the fall of political regime of the main character of the conflict, which is Serbia. That means that the "strategy of disappointment" has not on the population all expected results; or, on the contrary, its consequences were radical forcing the Serbian population to escape on its turn from Kosovo. We see well, that the methods of action connecting compulsion and confidence (the information war) demand a thin dosage of one and others - bombardment and propagation which criteria may occur only from a fair estimation of psychological and economic situation of the interested population. Subtlety in analysis and flexibility in intervention, which will depend on the flexibility of civil and military device, of systems of trusteeship and of network of established information on the territory. The strategy used in Kosovo to stop the process of ethnic épuration will finally be "positive" only if it opens the way to the respect of the right. At the beginning of 2000, they may assure only this second round, or to be earned. We overlook really too frequently, that, in very unreliable conditions which follow immediately the conflict, at a moment when the antagonism are hardy and the crimes present in all memoirs, it is more than before necessary that the right might base on force.
Speaking of the relations between the USA and the Europe, the Yugoslavian conflict - and especially its last phase in Kosovo - have confirmed the submission in which this one is in relation to the big ally. If the Americans always seemed favorable for the project of the European union, it is because it seemed obliged to be limited to economic area and that, in these conditions; it might only promote the expansion of the liberal model. On the political plan, they did not support any fears knowing quite well the disagreements of position in this respect of the main European actors, inter-European difficulties which they did not lose besides to awake or stimulate as required.
The Yugoslavian conflict will allow to the USA, on the one hand to leave the Europeans to stick in the Balkan from 1991 to 1994, proving so their inability to develop a common strategy, preferring to be covered behind congenital incompetence of the United Nations Organization; on the other hand to arrive to the point, when they have decided on it and when the circumstances seem to them favorable to impose their vision of the problem and the concept of its solution. For more care and to save susceptibility, they used the screen of the NATO; which has allowed to the European heads to rescue the face making to believe that they took part if not in the concept, at least in the behavior of operations. Actually, the European forces were always just adjuvant of the American fighting machine.
What the Americans have proved during the conflict of Kosovo, is what we call "European protection" was, is and remains a utopia.
- Or because it existed already stricto sensu as a NATO re-legitimated and "reconsidered" in various opportunities, in Rome since 1991, then in Berlin in the June 1996, considered by almost all the European countries as being the unique system capable, under the American authority, to assure the safety of the continent.
- Or because never the Europeans will master the set of the components necessary for the information war. Their nonexistent network of information, their logistical systems, their budget of anemic equipment, military devices sometimes archaic will not allow "to play in the yard" of the Americans. Conscious of this gap, the main European countries changed obviously of attitude (French-English rapprochement to Saint-Malo, common French-German strategic concept in Nuremberg) and undertaken a manifest effort to reorganize their industry of arms, to unite their forces and to coordinate their military devices. But the difficulty is significant, as this effort is not covered by any "strategic vision", in absence of any "politics of protection and of common safety" another, than, deliberate. At last, we will refer to some skepticism before it sudden reversal of position on behalf of our English and German friends, whose almost constituent adherence to the Organization Atlantic we know. Only Kosovo would explain this full turn and that what it did not want to listen under any price, become today one of their most dear aspirations? I see there more the belief for our allies, after the events of ex-Yugoslavia, that the safety of our continent is a too serious business to be charged only to the Europeans and that it depends thus "more than ever" on the American authority; I see there also the conclusion, which they pull by it, that our duty of Countries of the West (or democrats) is to respect and in to serve the superiority of the USA.
The conflict of Kosovo will serve so not only a laboratory for the American cold strategy of post-war time, but it will promote mainly to keep for long "the European protection" under the high direction of the USA.
1 AGIR. Revue general de Strategie, published by: la Société de Stratégie, 158 avenue de Suffren 75015 Paris.