Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

The War for Kosovo: Serbia's Political-Military Strategy

| Spring 2000


Questions continue to swirl around Slobodan Milosevic's decision to pit Serb troops against NATO forces in the 1999 battle over Kosovo. Given NATO's overwhelming military superiority, what motivated the Serb leader to reject the Rambouillet accords and to fight a war that, at least on the surface, Serbia stood no chance of winning? Moreover, why did Milosevic agree to negotiate an end to the war when he did? Barry Posen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addresses both questions through the "lens of strategy." According to Posen, Milosevic most likely had a political-military strategy to deal with NATO: his aim was to divide its members over Kosovo. As long as his strategy held out the possibility of driving a wedge between the coalition members, Milosevic could afford to keep the war going. Once it became clear that the coalition would not split over Kosovo, Milosevic agreed to settle the war on terms more favorable to Serbia than the Rambouillet accords. It was, says Posen, a strategy that "on the whole worked surprisingly well."

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For Academic Citation: Posen, Barry R.. The War for Kosovo: Serbia's Political-Military Strategy.” Quarterly Journal: International Security, vol. 24. no. 4. (Spring 2000):

The Author

Barry Posen