June 10, 1999
By Correspondent David Ensor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's been said that "victory has a hundred fathers" and certainly there are a number of winners out of the Kosovo settlement.
First among them: U.S. President Bill Clinton.
"Clearly Clinton made a gamble -- the gamble that you could go to war without calling it a war. That you could use force without using ground troops. That you could fight a major fight without losing any Americans and still come out in the end proclaiming -- rightly so -- success. He gambled, and as usual with Bill Clinton, he won," said Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution.
First among the losers: Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
"His days in power are numbered. I can't think of too many examples in history where someone who has launched four wars in a decade lost all four and long remains in power," said Peter Galbraith, former U.S. ambassador to Croatia.
But in a televised speech to the nation, the Yugoslav president presented himself as a winner, saying, "we have not given up Kosovo" and arguing that by fighting, the Serbs ensured that Kosovo will never be independent.
Another clear winner: Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair. He was the most outspoken advocate of the use of force.
President Boris Yeltsin of Russia may be another winner. He made sure his nation played a pivotal role, though it may hurt him politically inside Russia where helping NATO extract peace largely on its terms is unpopular.
But there are more losers than winners, including the Serb people and the Kosovars -- be they ethnic Albanian or Serb in origin.
"The clearest losers are the Serb people who withstood an 11- week bombing campaign in order to overcome the policies of their leader. Clearly the Kosovar Albanians are big losers. Thousands, if not tens of thousands were killed," Daalder said.
In spite of all that, the Kosovo Liberation Army, an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group, could be a winner. It has not won its goal of independence for Kosovo, but it showed it can make a difference in fighting on the ground.
Campaign officials for U.S. Vice President Al Gore will be breathing sighs of relief that the conflict didn't escalate into a ground war, leading to heavy casualties. That relief will also be shared by Defense Secretary William Cohen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright:
"I honestly believe that a lot of people are going to eat their words," Albright said.
Another winner is the NATO alliance which was searching for a role in the post-Cold War world. Now it has found one.
Other losers? In fairness, they include pundits, analysts and journalists who argued that air power alone was unlikely to bring Milosevic to heel.
"Clearly, people like me who believe that ground forces are necessary in order to win the air war have been proven wrong," Daalder said. "At the same time, I remain convinced that if we had done what I think we should have done, which is to deploy ground forces from day one in order to keep open the possibility of going in on the ground, we would have probably gotten this result a lot sooner and probably at less cost."
The list of winners and losers may change. Milosevic is down but he is not out. NATO may yet suffer casualties on the ground in Kosovo. But everyone seems relieved that the war is apparently over.
Peacekeepers prepare to enter Kosovo
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