The Kosovo War, 25 Years Later: And So To War

by Doug Muir on January 22, 2024

Part 4 and (for now) last of this series. Earlier installments can be found here.

So, by early 1999 various attempts to resolve the Kosovo situation had failed. In autumn 1998 the Americans had sent Richard Holbrooke as a special envoy to Belgrade. Holbrooke negotiated a deal that looked good on paper, with a ceasefire, partial Serb withdrawal, international observers, and negotiations leading to eventual elections. However, in practice the KLA ignored the deal – they hadn’t been consulted, after all – and the Serbs quickly began to foot-drag and renege. So, by January 1999, armed intervention was under serious discussion.

One theory of the conflict deserves mention here. This is the idea that US President Bill Clinton provoked the bombing campaign in order to distract public attention away from the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his subsequent impeachment. This idea was widely discussed at the time, usually referencing the 1997 movie Wag the Dog, in which a US Presidential administration concocts a war in Albania to distract from the President’s sexual misconduct.
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