Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Kosovo and the Great Air Power Debate

Spring 2000


In the first of two articles on the 1999 war over Kosovo, Daniel Byman and Matthew Waxman of the RAND Corporation seek to dispel the notion that NATO air attacks alone brought Serbia to the negotiating table. They argue instead that air power worked synergistically with other factors—including the threat of a NATO ground assault, declining Russian support for the Serb cause, and the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army—in ending the conflict. More generally, Byman and Waxman maintain that the current debate over the role of air power as an instrument of coercion is "fundamentally flawed." Noting that the outcome of this debate could have broad policy implications, the authors suggest that instead of asking if air power alone can coerce an adversary to surrender, political and military leaders, as well as theoreticians, should ask: "How can [air power] contribute to successful coercion, and under what circumstances are its contributions most effective?"

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For Academic Citation: Byman, Daniel A., Matthew C. Waxman. Kosovo and the Great Air Power Debate.” Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 24. no. 4. (Spring 2000):