The Decisions to Bomb the Serbs

THE DECISION TO BOMB THE SERBS
The Decision to Bomb the Serbs was a very interesting case study. It was hard for me to choose a case study but after reading my top three choices I finally came to a conclusion. I never knew about this particular topic, but as I read I was impressed with it, which brought this question to my mind.

Should the US have intervened to prevent or end violations of human rights in Kosovo, when these violations did not directly affect other American interests? This was one of the many questions that I and the American public asked themselves, their congressmen and ultimately, their government, during the chaos in the Middle East. It must have been a difficult task to decide whether or not to take action against Milosevic in Belgrade. In this case there are many underlying concepts that shape the way in which the events that led to the bombing of Kosovo played out. I will attempt, in this paper, to discuss the different themes that played a role in this case study.

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It was thought that the Kosovo crisis came at a time when the President of the United States was most distracted, and could easily have made the wrong decisions. Based on the severity of the situation in Kosovo, one would need to focus on the negotiations necessary to find peace. The Clinton Administrations primary focus was on the pending impeachment of their leader. The case against President Bill Clinton required his undivided attention, as it pertained to his promiscuous actions while in office. The lack of personal attention to this crisis as it developed, may have been the triggering factor that led to many deaths and violent acts of crime that took place in Kosovo.

The decision to bomb was one that could not follow the rational method of decision making, even though the goals, alternatives and consequences were known. The US government knew what the primary goal was pertaining to Kosovo, they needed to negotiated or come to some form of middle ground with Milosevic, allowing for peace. They had alternatives to the negotiation process, which was to take military action. The consequence of taking these actions would be the repercussions of the bombings. Even with all this known, it would still be impossible to follow the rational decision-making model as defined by Charles Lindbolm. However, a more appropriate method would be the Branch Method. The possible outcomes and contributing factors would be broad and have to be considered, as different situations become evident.

The Presidents top aides and Secretary of Defense did not appear to create a plan to deal with the crisis. Their strategy lacked definition, consistency and persistence. Numerous threats were made to the President of Yugoslavia, but none were enforced. NATO was dependent on the United States, in conjunction with them, bringing Milosevic to an understanding without war, so their actions were limited.
There were plenty of assumptions made regarding the personality and conscience of Milosevic, those that negotiated with him remembered different aspects of his demeanor, which eventually led to a lot of misunderstandings and incorrect assessments of his position on the issues. As President Clinton did not have direct interaction in the negotiations or the process being taken to form peace, he was given reports from varies parties, regarding the situation. Unfortunately, the lines of communication were blurred and thus, President Clinton received cloudy information that often was based on speculations and past encounters. Nothing appeared to be solid, reliable information, which in turn led to unreliable choices and decisions.

Often in bureaucracy, information tends to follow very slowly; in this case, it was very inconsistent. The threat made by the Bush Administration, promised unilateral military air strikes, if no action was taken by Milosevic to comply with NATOs demands. This threat was further re-affirmed by the Clinton Administration, but later decided that it should be ruled out. The primary concern here was the potential endangerment of US troops and allies in neighboring cites.
My second issue with this case is the potential appointees Mr. Richard C. Holbrooke and Mr. Robert S. Gelbard that participated in the negotiation. Mr. Robert S. Gelbard was probably not a good choice for a negotiator. Gelbard seemed to use personal differences when dealing with the situation at hand. He expressed his personal feelings about the situation to Milosevic, which was inappropriate given the severity and sensitivity of the issues. Mr. Holbrooke depended solely on personality traits of Milosevic, which were displayed in earlier years. His advice to the President was unreliable, in the sense that it lacked actuality. He believed that with much conversing and numerous threats, Milosevic would back down. With every other factor hinging on this information, little was done to stop the situation from exploding into the massacre that it became.

The Clinton Administration followed the rational decision-making method, without considering the effects it would have made. The magnitude of the Kosovo incident was greatly underestimated. Due to lack of personal involvement and undivided dedication to the issues and the blow-by-blow escalation of events, by the President, the decisions made were poor in quality. When using the Branch method of decision-making, one must extensively consider the external environment of the situation. Within moments, the plan leading toward the decision could be changed. The Clinton Administration in its self, lacked efficient communication. The Secretary of Defense didnt bring detailed information to the aides and those involved in briefing the President. It was as those, the information was being pieced together by numerous persons as they received it. The organization of those assigned to deal with the problem was extremely in need of restructuring. The lack of communication between the allies and NATO was also a major contributing factor to the overall outcome. The rebels pushed ahead and began their personal war on Milosevic, causing retaliation of his officers, resulting in more deaths of the innocent.

In my opinion, the steps taken by the Clinton Administration, NATO, and those appointed to assist in the resolution of the Kosovo crisis, were unorganized and poorly done. There was a gap in the communication that was needed to complete such an unpredictable task. There was no set structure to solving this problem, as it was indeed a complex one. However, steps could have been taken to avoid the unnecessary destruction of more Kosovo homes and families. Milosevics decision to not cooperate was in no way a contributing factor to the internal problems of the US government. Had they developed a contingency plan or made the decision to abide by previously made threats or decisions, there may never had been as many murders as there were. I am not sure if all the events that occurred could have been avoided, but it was definitely necessary to at least try to prevent the outbreak of violence that occurred. To say that the Presidents lack of interest in the Kosovo events was intentional is far beyond truth. However, I believe that due to other pressing issues that directly affected the American public and their government, the Presidents lack of involvement was a major factor in the outcome. In making decisions, those that have the authority to make the decision should be well informed and dedicated to the progress of the situation prior to making any decisions.