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Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo Paperback – October 1, 2001
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Winning Ugly is the first serious book to assess NATO's first war--an 11-week bombing campaign waged against Serbia to force its troops out of Kosovo in the spring of 1999. The authors, Ivo H. Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon, both of the Brookings Institution, are careful scholars, and they are generally supportive of what the United States and its allies did: "The outcome achieved in Kosovo, while hardly without its problems, represented a major improvement over what had prevailed in the region up to that point and certainly over what would have happened had NATO chosen not to intervene." Yet they are also critical of how this particular approach was formulated by policymakers, and they readily believe better results might have been achieved. In other words, the air war was a success, but a relative one; the good guys won, but--as the title implies--they won ugly.
Daalder and O'Hanlon sometimes equivocate--"Could war in Kosovo have been prevented? The answer, we believe, is maybe"--yet Winning Ugly is an excellent summary of what happened and why it happened the way it did. On the question of whether Operation Allied Force actually prevailed, something skeptics have questioned, they write: "The vast majority of Kosovars are far better off today.... [Slobodan] Milosevic unquestionably lost the war, and his defeat was overwhelming." This is a foreign-policy wonk's book, a sober analysis that tries to draw clear lessons from experience. It's not only the first book worth examining for readers interested in what happened in Kosovo; it may be the best available for some time. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"As instant books go, this one is rather good. Daalder and O'Hanlon, both fellows at the Brookings Institution, speak less from the heart than from the head. To its credit, the book is heavily footnoted and conventional, in the nonpejorative sense of the t" Eliot Cohen, Foreign Affairs, 9/1/2000
"This is a serious and worthwhile study which analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of American leadership and the NATO system in its first offensive war.... Daalder and O'Hanlon make clear that we have a lot to learn if we are going to engage in campai" Newt Gingrich, newt.org, 9/3/2000
"A thorough, lucid, hard-hitting examination of Western, and especially American, policy, scrupulously examining the real alternatives available at the time. On the internal dispute sof Washington policymaker [Daalder and O'Hanlon] are fascinating." Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books, 9/3/2000
"Must Read" Lex Ticonderoga, Today's Books / Public News Service, 12/5/2000
"Winning Ugly, a new book published by the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy organization, provides substantial evidence suggesting that U.S. leaders were terribly negligent when planning last year's air war against Serbia." James Ron, Baltimore Sun, 1/9/2001
"thoughtful conclusions" St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/9/2001
"Daalder and O'Hanlon are eminently qualified to produce the first comprehensive analysis of the Kosovo crises." JP Dunn, Converse College, Choice, 1/11/2001
"This volume will prove to be one of the most comprehensive and thorough critiques of how and why NATO's decisions were made in Operation Allied Force." Timothy Shaw, Contemporary Security Policy, 3/20/2001
"As befits two Brookings Institution members... the authors are adept at pointing out the contradictions between military realities and politicians' rationalizations." Tom Donnelly & Gary Schmitt, Weekly Standard, 4/24/2001
"It is by far the most comprehensive analysis of the Kosovo war so far." Fiona Simpson, University of St. Andrews, International Affairs, 4/24/2001
"Mr. Daalder knows the Balkans well and Mr. O'Hanlon fully understands warfare. They make an outstanding team." Alan Gropman, Washington Times, 7/19/2001
"Daalder and O'Hanlon chronicle in convincing and painful detail how NATO for more than a year tried hard to head off a military confrontation." Christopher Civic, Survival
"Brookings Institution scholars Ivo H. Daalder (Getting to Dayton: The Making of America's Bosnia Policy) and Michael O'Hanlon (Technological Change and the Future of Warfare) analyze the [Kosovo] conflict in Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo. Their" Publishers Weekly
"Some officials, including Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, have contended that the allies' qualms hampered the air war, delayed victory and endangered allied pilots. But in Winning Ugly, a book about the war released Thursday, foreign policy scholars" Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times
"An outstanding contribution to the study of U.S. foreign policy making." Ryan Hendrickson, Eastern Illinois University, National Security Studies Quarterly
"A substantial Kosovo war literature has sprouted during the year since NATO's victory over Serbia, and Winning Ugly by Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon is probably the most impressive contribution to date. It manages to achieve a fair and balanced treat" Janus Bugajski, Washington Times
"... it is an excellent first generation study. The detailed chronology and documents in the appendixes are exceptionally valuable." J.P. Dunn, Converse College, Choice, vol. 38, no. 7, 3/1/2001
"It will be difficult to produce a better book devoted to the anatomy of Western decisionmaking- the authors have interviewed an impressively wide range of US and NATO officials, and their analysis succeeds in bringing the reader inside the confusing and approximate world of strategic choice." Dr. R. Craig Nation, U.S. Army War College, Parameters, U.S. Army War College Quarterly, 7/1/2001
"This book enhances our understanding of what may become the future of NATO as well as some part of the future of war." Tom Fedyszyn, Naval War College, Naval War College Review, 1/1/2002
"Their account is heartening and sobering at the same time. It is heartening because the authors offer a number of fascinating and intellectually rigorous anlayses into the possible alternatives to NATO's approach." Jamie Shea, Director of NATO's Office of Information and Press, NATO Review, 7/1/2001
"... excellent work.... an impressive array of documents supplemented by extensive interviews." Tom Mockaitis, Depaul University, Chicago, Small Wars & Insurgencies, 4/1/2002
"... one of the first comprehensive accounts of the Kosovo conflict of 1999. The book's greatest strength is its excellent analysis of the political and diplomatic background to the crisis.... Should be required reading for anyone involved with events in the Balkans or interested in the area." Milan Vego, Naval War College, United States Naval Institute Proceedings, 11/1/2000
"An engrossing story of how we went to war, with important lessons for how we should wage peace." Anthony Lake,, Assistant to President Bill Clinton for National Security Affairs, 1993-97, 7/19/2001
"Winning Ugly sets the standard against which American and European actions in the Kosovo war will be measured. The authors provide an authoritative and convincing account of the policy conflicts within the U.S. government, the gap between our political a" Warren Zimmermann, U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia 1989-1992, 7/19/2001
"Winning Ugly proves a much needed lesson on the efficacy of early, forceful U.S. intervention in the Balkans. Equally importantly, it demonstrates that prevarication can be deadly, and that half-measures yield half-results." Senator Bob Dole, 7/19/2001
"An incisive and revealing dissection of an ambiguous triumph... providing new information on a complex decision and a difficult conflict." Zbigniew Brzezinski, Assistant to President Jimmy Carter for National Security Affairs, 1977-81, 7/19/2001
"Whether you ultimately accept their conclusions or not, Daalder and O'Hanlon have produced a thought-provoking analysis that represents an important contribution to the debate over when and how to use force in pursuit of foreign policy objectives." Senator John McCain, 7/19/2001
Top customer reviews
In my view, this book is essential reading together with the following four books, all of which I have favorably reviewed here at Amazon: first, Kristan Wheaton, The Warning Solution: Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload, Cees Wiebes, Intelligence and the War in Bosnia: 1992-1995 (Perspectives on Intelligence History), Wesley Clark, Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat, and Eliot Cohen, Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime These four books cover what this book does not: 1) a full explanation of why "inconvenient warning" fails time and again; 2) a full explanation of the complete inadequacy of Western intelligence in relation to historical, cultural, and current indigenous intelligence as well as small arms interdiction in lower-tier unstable regions; 3) a useful itemization of the weaknesses of both NATO and the US military in responding to unconventional challenges in tough terrain distant from the center of Europe; and 4) how "supreme command" is most often exercised without regard to intelligence.
Having said that, let me enumerate what I regard as the very positive features of this book, one that makes it central to the discussion of NATO, Air Power, and US politics as they affect "engagement."
First, the authors are to be commended for graciously but no less effectively nailing the Clinton Administration, and especially Sandy Berger, Madeline Albright, and William Cohen, for inattention and indecisiveness and a complete lack of any coherent sustainable strategy.
Second, although the author's do not stress this point beyond highlighting it in the opening sentence of the book, it comes across as a continuing theme: the entire conflict could have been resolved early on had the NATO allies had a capability to deal with *one man*, that is, Milosevic.
Third, the authors note clearly (on page 10) how there were many non-violent precursors to the violence and ensued, and that the Albanians finally concluded that only violence would get them international attention. This is a major theme within Jonathan Schell's utterly brilliant and comprehensive book, "The Unconquerable World" and one that any future Director of Central Intelligence must be held accountable for: warning in the *non-violent* stage.
Fourth, the author's, who between them have considerable expertise in defense analysis, indict the Clinton Administration for over-selling the peace negotiation efforts of Ambassador Holbrook, and the very bad campaign planning of General Clark.
Fifth, the author's document the pattern of Madame Secretary Albright, whose own book I recently reviewed along these lines, of rhetoric rather than reality--or words rather than actions with consequences. NATO bluffed while Madeline talked. Milosevic, no fool, understood all this. Albright is, however, credited with understanding that ultimately force would be needed to achieve the policy objectives.
Sixth, and this is something I learned the hard way in El Salvador, the author's very correctly make the point that such conflicts cannot be controlled with pressure on only one of the belligerents. *Both* parties to the conflict must be challenged and contained.
Seventh, the author's are helpful in pointing out that the Administration erred in failing to consider partition and independence as an option for the conflicted parties, and they emphasize that one must never under-estimate the will of any one party to achieve independence.
Eighth, and on the head of the Republicans we place this one, the authors point out that the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton because of his personal relations with Monica Lewinsky severely distracted and handicapped the Administration. Indeed, I recall that in all our Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) reports at the time, we had to modify all of our search strategies to include "and not Monica", so over-whelming was the trash that would come up on Bosnia and other places we were looking at, all "hits" corrupted unless we excluded the Monica factor from US foreign policy. The lesson we take from this is that impeachment, especially frivolous impeachment, has major national security consequences, and is not merely a matter for domestic consumption or impact assessment.
The book is flawed, but not grievously, for failing to have any serious treatment of intelligence. There are just four over-lapping references to CIA, and to intelligence reports, in the entire book. In as much as this book is up to the norm for beltway policy books, we conclude that until such books have the deeper coverage and understanding of intelligence shortfalls as a matter of routine, intelligence and policy in Washington DC will continue to co-exist without reform and with a deliberate choice being made by policy experts to ignore intelligence and what intelligence, properly done, can bring to the process of peacemaking.
The author's final policy recommendation merit listing, and their elaboration is a highlight of the book:
1) Interventions should occur as early as possible
2) Coercive diplomacy requires a credible threat of force
3) When force is used, military means must relate to political ends
4) Airpower alone usually cannot stop the killing in civil wars
5) The Powell Doctrine for the use of force remains valid
6) Humanitarian interventions need realistic goals
7) Exit strategies are desirable but not always essential
8) Other countries need better, more deployable militaries
9) UN authorization for intervention is highly desirable, even if it is not required
10) Russia's support is valuable in these types of operations
11) NATO works well in peace and in war but only if US leads
12) An effective foreign policy requires that the president lead with confidence.
13) The US is not a hyperpower, but rather a superpower prone to *underachievement* instead of imperial ambition (this was pre-Bush and pre-neocon)
This book stands as the core reference on NATO and Kosovo, and as one of the more helpful references on principles of intervention and foreign policy that all future presidents and their staff can learn from.
Other more recent books I recommend, with reviews:
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Faith-Based Diplomacy: Trumping Realpolitik
War Is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General, Two Other Anti=Interventionist Tracts, and Photographs from the Horror of It
Where the book is faulty is in three areas. (1) It focuses its main analysis on the American side of diplomacy and politics; in a way, it is defensible since the United States was the main player in ending the genocide in Kosovo. And, although they do report diplomatic/political actions by the Europeans powers, it is not enough (although, quite frankly, I don't think that I could have handled even more quibbling). (2) The book was written shortly after the grisly holocaust in Bosnia, of which the Serbs were primarily responsible, and memories would have been fresh for the reader. Not so now. That event should have been reviewed in the beginning of the book because Milosevic's murderous reputation influenced the subsequent events vis a vis Kosovo. (I personally have a theory that Milosevic, seeing the downfall of the Communist rulers in Eastern Europe decided that the only way to retain power was to exploit the ethnic hatreds that are always present in the Balkans and so that he engineered well publicized, though fake, attacks on Serbs followed by retaliation by Serbs on others, thereby creating a chain reaction.) (3) Granted the fact of Serbian atrocities on Albanians, the book fails to adequately shine a light on the atrocities committed by the Albanian KLA atrocities on Serbian civilians. Like in Northern Ireland where the extremists on both sides refuse to engage each other and instead commit crimes on innocent civilians, in Kosovo (and Bosnia earlier)you had the Serb and Albanian civilians being victimized by the vicious elements within each ethnic group.