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The classical realist and structural realist theories applied to the Kosovo crisis in 1998-1999

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The realist theory: Understanding and analysing the sources of Yugoslavia war and of US intervention in Kosovo.
    1. International and Domestic security dilemmas.
    2. International Anarchy and predominance of the nation-states.
  3. The conduct and the outcome of the Kosovo war.
    1. 'Might makes right'.
    2. The effects of International Anarchy in the peacekeeping operation.
  4. Some consequences of the Kosovo crisis: Providing support for the structural realist theory.
  5. Some aspects of the Kosovo crisis that cannot be explained by the realist approach.
  6. Conclusion.
  7. Bibliography.

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. [...]


[...] How do the classical realist and structural theories enlighten the Kosovo war and to what extent does the crisis illustrate those theoretical approaches? To what extent do they explain the sources, the conduct, the outcome and the consequences of the Kosovo War? Does the crisis underline limits of the theories? The classical realist and the structural realist theories illuminate some aspects of the Kosovo crisis as they help understanding the sources, the conduct, the outcome and the consequences of the war. [...]

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