Fundamental to justify the NATO mission, however it

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Fundamental
to this dissertation has been discussion of the use of, or rather the reluctance
to use the term ‘genocide’ to describe particular atrocities.  Whilst Bosnia and Rwanda both illustrate the
extent to which the US went in order to avoid labelling the crimes genocide,
the case of Kosovo proves the opposite. 
Prior to the bombing campaign, the Clinton administration had
pre-determined that they wished to intervene in Kosovo.  The US thus framed their arguments for
intervention as pre-emptive action to avoid an imminent genocide in
Kosovo.  What this dissertation has
already proven is the universal consensus that a determination of genocide
calls for intervention.  Why the US was
eager to intervene will be discussed in the following section; this section
will instead discuss how the US used
genocide rhetoric to justify intervention.

 

Scholars Samantha
Power and Frank Chalk both acknowledge the
proactive use of the label “genocide” in order to mobilize support for the
intervention in Kosovo.  In stark
contrast to the reluctance to use the term in both Bosnia and Rwanda, it is
obvious to see that in the case of Kosovo the Clinton administration used the
term in advance of the bombing as a means of garnering international public,
media, and allied support.1
Power continues on to suggest that a finding of genocide would not shame the
US, but instead enhance its moral authority; something the US was undoubtedly
trying to restore given their inaction in the face of mass atrocities at the
beginning of the decade.2
 In March 1998 Secretary of State
Madeline Albright claimed that the international community stood by and watched
ethnic cleansing occur in Bosnia. She continued by stating: “We don’t want that
to happen again.”3

There are
even claims that the US exaggerated the number of deaths on the side of the
Kosovar Albanians in order to justify the NATO mission, however it is arguable that this argument was made by
some who did not a full understanding of what the UNGC requires re: numbers.4 

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During the
NATO bombing itself, the US and Clinton administration stepped up, and made
sure to discuss the atrocities as genocide in order to ensure perpetual support
for the intervention.  In a statement
from his speech at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal
Employees (AFSCME) Convention on 24 March 1999, Clinton, echoing Albright’s
1998 statement, argued that the world had stood aside as genocide was committed
in the heart of Europe against the Bosnian Muslims, and stated that this could
not be allowed to happen again in Kosovo.5  Pairing genocide rhetoric with a reference to
the tragedy of 1995 in Bosnia was not merely because the US cared about the
fate of the Kosovar Albanians, it was a tactic that aimed to arouse peoples’
emotions and guarantee support for Clinton’s intervention.  Furthermore, it should be acknowledged that
American media reports on the situation in Kosovo were largely informed by the
government communiqués.6
 Having this power and control meant that
the US government could essentially tell media outlets how to frame and portray
the conflict in Kosovo.  The media thus
transformed, arguably at the request of the US government, as Seth Ackerman and
Jim Naureckas claim, “Kosovo’s war into a one-sided ethnic holocaust.”7  Furthermore, the US State Department approved
the use of the term “genocide” to describe the campaign against Kosovar
Albanians once the NATO mission had begun.8  There is absolutely no doubt that some
members of the US government, and US Congress supporters of a NATO intervention
invoked the genocide label.  To reiterate
and conclude, the US framed the atrocities in Kosovo, rightly or wrongly, as
genocide, in order to justify their desired intervention. But why did the US
want to intervene?

 

Regional Stability, Restoration and Redemption?:
Why the US wanted to intervene – 1300

 

Ultimately,
it was the interest of the US to have a stable and secure Europe, to restore
the image and credibility of both America and the Clinton administration, and
finally, to act to prevent another mass atrocity from transpiring.  These interests were outlined on 26 March 1999
by the Department of State in an official statement they called “US and NATO
objectives and interests in Kosovo.”9
 This convergence of interests meant that
for the first time, the US considered inaction more costly than action. 

 

 

The Clinton
administration, realizing the potential destabilising effect of the Kosovo
crisis, decided it was in their best interest to intervene.  First and foremost, the US was concerned with
the mass exodus of Kosovar Albanians to neighbouring countries.  Intended to completely cleanse Kosovo of all
of its 1.8 million Albanian inhabitants, Serbia’s Operation Horseshoe almost
did just that, with 90 percent of the Kosovo populace having been forcibly
displaced from their homes by …10
The destination for the majority of these refugees were Albania and Macedonia,
with Macedonia being of particular concern to the US given its inability to
endure the arrival of more displaced Kosovar Albanians and its large ethnic
Albanian population.11
 Furthermore, Secretary of State Warren Christopher
distinguished Kosovo from Bosnia on the grounds that deterioration in Kosovo
would likely “bring into the fray other countries in the region – Albania,
Greece, Turkey.”12  He argued that Kosovo was different from
Bosnia because of its potential to unleash violence through the rest of the
Balkans, which suggests that the US acted out of a fear that the conflict
would, or at least could, broaden into a world war.13  Also of concern was the fragile peace in
Bosnia, which the US had spent more than US$10 billion supporting.14  The US thus intervened in order to halt the
refugee crisis and prevent neighbouring countries from collapsing, which would
have cost not only the lives of many more innocent people, but also the time,
money and resources of the US.  Ultimately,
the US had a vested interest in avoiding an even crueller and costlier war.15

 

Wider Europe/NATO Existence & Credibility

The US also
had interests related to the wider context of European security and the
international system.  With the fall of
the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and inevitably the end of the Cold War in 1991,
the structure of the international system changed from one of bipolar rivalry
between the US and USSR, to a situation where the US secured the position as
the unipolar hegemon and could essentially reign unchallenged.  Despite their newfound political status, the
US was eager to keep a watchful eye on post-Communist Russia, seeing as their political
trajectory remained in question.16
 The US also realized that their national
interests would be jeopardized if they failed to act in defence of European
security, and figured that intervening in Kosovo to maintain regional stability
would be a good way to prove their allegiance to European partners.17  Reciprocity – Europe would have US’s back if US helped them now?  Intervening in Kosovo was thus the
perfect opportunity to demonstrate to Russia that the US was now in charge of shaping the world order,
and would also show that America still supported their European allies even
though the Cold War was over.   However,
it would be unlikely that all European nations, especially those formally
allied to the USSR, would tolerate the continued military presence of the US.  Luckily for the US, Clinton understood, like
his predecessor George H. W. Bush, that NATO was the only plausible
justification for the American military presence in Europe.18  Furthermore, NATO needed to act in Kosovo to
ensure their credibility as a collective security organisation.  NATO’s prestige was also on the line, because
as former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Klaus Naumann noted,
“We threatened too often and hadn’t done anything.”19
 NATO had been warning Miloševi? since
1997 that action would be taken if he refused to stop his ethnic cleansing
policies, however, no action had been taken.20  By using NATO to spearhead the bombing
campaign against Miloševi?, the US simultaneously justified US presence in
Europe, while restoring the credibility of, and proving the necessity for NATO.

 

US Image & Clinton’s Image

 

Although not outlined in the Department of State
statement, it is undeniable that restoring and preserving the image of both the
US and the Clinton administration itself created an incentive to intervene in
Kosovo.  After his impotence in both
Bosnia and Rwanda, President Clinton was more than eager to restore his
image.  The argument was rightly made
that if he avoiding taking the necessary action to expel the genocidal Serb
forces from Kosovo, he would be remembered as the President on whose watch
three genocides unfolded – undeniably not a title anyone would want to hold.21  Although he could not seek re-election,
having already served two terms in the White House, Clinton was concerned with
his legacy and therefore intervened
in Kosovo to redeem his image.  Similarly,
the lack of action in Bosnia and Rwanda posed a threat to America’s
credibility.  The US, as the sole superpower in the post-Cold War
era, had

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