The spiral of the KLA military operations in the conflict with Serb forces began to unfold trending up, and 28 February 1998 the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) proclaimed the beginning of the armed struggle for independence (Judah 1999). Flare-up of the conflict coupled by the systematic violation of human rights attracted international attention and was the cause of its internationalization.
After the 1998 ceasefire imposed by the UN in Serbia proved ineffective, despite the absence of UN authorization to intervene, the situation unfolded by the scenario of a “humanitarian intervention”ť developed by the U.S. in the early 1990’s in the Balkans and Africa. The NATO operation, which began on March 24, 1999 and lasted until July, was code named Allied Force and joined forces of 14 countries with the KLA militants (Beach 2000:109). The main part of the military operations on the territory of Serbia consisted in using aircraft to bomb strategic military and civilian infrastructure in Serbia. June 10, 1999, realizing an inescapable reality Yugoslavia surrendered.
In justification of the most massive bombing campaign after the World War II, Western countries argued that it was the only way to prevent large-scale killing of civilians. However, in general, the main task that the United States was solving by the aggression against Yugoslavia was in the field of global financial and geopolitical interests.
In particular, one of their goals was to destabilize the euro and avoid the possibility of its transformation into a second world reserve currency and reduce the dollar reserves of the euro-zone. According to Daalder et al. (2001), back in late 1998, the US authorities came to the conclusion, that the guaranteed protection of the dollar against the competition with the euro can only be provided by sufficiently destructive and painful war in Europe conducted with the active participation of European NATO countries. Humanitarian tension and hundreds of thousands of refugees being in close contact with organized crime and drug trafficking at home, the focus of a long-term tension in the center of Europe, and significant damage with environmental disaster all securely destabilized the European economy and limited the potential of the euro for the coming years to the status of no more than regional currency.
In addition, the war in Yugoslavia allowed the U.S. to upgrade its economy and raise its level in relation to Europe due to the huge increase in foreign exchange costs incurred in the conduct of war. If, before the start of the war in Yugoslavia, the total gross domestic product of the European community was 10 000 billion dollars, over the time of the conflict over five percent (5.47%) or 550 billion dollars were lost, while the U.S. economy grew by more than 6% (Daalder et al. 2001:401).
Another aspect of the necessity of intervention was that the developed countries of Europe and the US needed an object of a large-scale and effective investment (Beach 2000; Roberts 1999). Major investments in the destroyed economy (i.e., perfectly prepared for the upgrade) with full political control and incredibly cheap skilled labor were exclusively favorable prospects for the developed countries in Europe and the U.S.
An extremely important (if not the main) purpose of the war in Yugoslavia for the U.S. and its NATO allies was also further extensive testing of the new high-precision weapons systems, systems of intelligence, control, communications, navigation, electronic warfare, and all forms of security, issues of cooperation in real combat conditions, as well as getting rid of obsolete ammunition (Roberts 1999; Daalder et al. 2001). Thus, seemingly surprising primary form of interaction of a high-tech army with irregular guerrillas worked out during those months was fully implemented two years later in a joint operation of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Northern Alliance against the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.
Conclusion: Post-war Effects
On a whole, the main outcome of the war was the complete disintegration of Yugoslavia into 6 new states (Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro) and one not fully recognized territory (Kosovo). The political outcome of the war was the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo; and the social effects are the thousands of senseless victims and irreparable damage to an already weak and suffering state. Looking deeper, NATO’s war against Yugoslavia created more problems than it factually solved.
In particular, the total damage to Yugoslavia is estimated at $ 1 billion (Beach 2000:115). As NATO bombings were, in particular, aimed at major civil infrastructure, they brought harm to a great number of industrial, power and communication facilities, airports, hospitals, educational establishments, roads and bridges, as well as objects of cultural heritage many of which were under the UNESCO protection – unique library archives in Belgrade, century-old churches and museums. All this totally undermined the economy of Yugoslavia and pushed the country’s development back for decades, leaving it in the rank of “third world”ť countries. As a result of NATO bombings, about 500’000 Yugoslavian people lost their jobs, and about one million refugees had to leave the country (Shrivastava and Agrawal 2005:178).
Massive NATO bombing campaign of the territory of Yugoslavia also caused fires in refinering and chemical plants, which sharply and inconvertibly worsened the ecological situation in the Balkan region, as well as, on a number of parameters, in whole Europe. Thus, the maximum allowable concentration of harmful substances was exceeded by more than 10,000 times (Daalder et al. 2001:213), which caused the outburst in cancerous diseases, climate changes in the region, as well as still has an impact on the flora and fauna in a number of other continents. In particular, due to the contamination of the Danube with oil products, almost all European countries suffer serious environmental damage.
In general, the analysis of the events in the Balkans shows that the method of “resolution”ť of the ethnical issue in Kosovo was a test case for the future possibility to design the ethnic conflicts using them to revise the borders of countries. The policy of permissiveness of peace-making interventions, preventing which is even beyond the scope of the UN, presents a danger that the forces interested in revision of borders can achieve the desired through “revisionism in the guise of humanism.”ť Therefore, it is necessary, in our view, to seriously consider the creation of a ubiquitous system of guarantees for preventing at source the aggression, occupation, and annexation in any form. Otherwise, retraction of states in the armed conflicts may become a permanent process, and strive for military triumph can again become a permanent element of international life undermining the concept of the common home.