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Divide and survive

History shows that partition and population exchange is often the least bad answer to ethnic conflict. Western reluctance to accept this fact prolonged the Bosnian war and could complicate the exodus from Kosovo. The alternative to partition in the Balkans is the presence of a large outside force-indefinitely.

By Anatol Lieven   May 1999

In the run-up to the Nato intervention in the Kosovo conflict, I was told by several Nato advisers: “The only question is whether Milosevic will give in just before or just after the start of air strikes.” It is easy to be wise after the event, but this phrase illuminates the multiple errors which led Nato into war. To begin with, in the whole lexicon of international relations, there is no such thing as “air strikes.” Even a limited armed attack on another country constitutes an act of war. And in war, the enemy can be expected to hit back…

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