"The Limits of Coercive Airpower: NATO'S 'Victory' in Kosovo Revisited"
Journal Article, International Security, volume 34, issue 1, pages 83-112
Author: Daniel R. Lake
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Quarterly Journal: International Security
Many studies of the 1999 Kosovo crisis argue that although airpower played an important role in forcing President Slobodan Milošević's capitulation, NATO's threat of a ground invasion was critical. Other studies claim that no such threat existed or that it was irrelevant to ending the crisis. Instead, they attribute NATO's success solely to the strategic use of coercive airpower. There is, however, another explanation: the rising dissatisfaction with Milošević's rule among his supporters as the crisis dragged on. Despite NATO's overwhelming strategic superiority, Milošević was able to reject his adversary's terms of surrender until his political position became untenable. This suggests that airpower may have greater limitations as a tool of statecraft than its supporters maintain.
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