Kosovo is mostly known as a region in the former Yugoslavia where, in 1998 and 1999, there was growing violence between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which sought independence from Serbia, and the Serbian army and police, which were randomly attacking the province of the indigenous Albanian population as a reprisal for KLA activities. In an effort to prevent further violence, in 1998, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) issued several ultimatums to Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslavian President, demanding that the Serbs stop violence towards the Kosovar Albanian population and withdrew military forces from the province. As the Serbs refused to give in, NATO intervened in Kosovo without asking the permission to the United Nation Security Council and launched an air campaign against Yugoslavia in March 1999: the Operation Allied Force (OAF). In apparent retaliation for the NATO intervention, the Serbian army began to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its population of Albanians and the flood of Albanian refugees reached crisis proportions.
[...] Second, the conduct and the outcome of the Kosovo war illustrate some of the aspects of the realist and the structural realist theories “Might makes right” Firstly, the conduct of the Kosovo crisis consolidates the realist point of view stating that force remains the final arbiter in the international system, a point of view illustrated by the expression “Might makes right”. Indeed, NATO was much more powerful than the opposite forces (Yugoslavia, Russia and China) and the Yugoslavian government finally agreed to accept some of the alliance's term. [...]
[...] The effects of International Anarchy in the peacekeeping operation In second place, the outcome of the Kosovo war props up the structural realist idea of international anarchy. Indeed, anarchy's imprint appears in the conduct of the peacekeeping operation. As the predominant state in the world and as they had decided to intervene in Kosovo, the United States had the greatest capabilities to assume peacekeeping responsibilities. But the United States had also the greatest capabilities to shrink from such responsibilities, because they often cause problems. [...]
[...] Conclusion Following this analysis, we can thus argue that the causes, the conduct, the outcome and the consequences of the Kosovo war conform rather closely to classical realist and structural realist expectations. However, it also appears that the realist approach fails to explain why NATO, led by the United States, intervene in Kosovo given that no vital American interests were at stake in this conflict. The Kosovo war is often considered as being a humanitarian war, maybe the first one. [...]
[...] Thus, the realist theory illuminates the causes of Yugoslavia war and shows that Yugoslavia's vulnerability to war came from its weakness. It also underlines the role of recent changes in international politics in creating ethnic conflicts. International Anarchy and predominance of the nation-states According to realism, the states are more important in international relations than the other actors such as the International Organisations. In other words, nation-states are at the centre of the international system. Hence, along the lines suggested by realism, the United Nations could barely do anything to prevent the United States (and France, Britain and the other European allies to a lesser extent) from deciding to intervene in Kosovo. [...]
[...] Yet some aspects of the Kosovo crisis cannot be explained by the realist approach and can even be considered as belying this theory According to the realist theory, the states seek their own interests. That is why one of the most eminent foreign policy realists, Henry Kissinger, disagreed with NATO's intervention in the Balkans. He argued on many television and radio news channels that no vital American strategic or political interests were at stake in Kosovo. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a weak, poor country on the periphery of Europe so the conflict in Kosovo may have posed a threat to US secondary or extrinsic interests in Europe. [...]
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