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This political cartoon is about the crisis in Kosovo, Serbia in the years 1998 and ’99. In Kosovo, a province of Serbia, 90% ethnic Albanians lived and only 10% Serbians. Therefore Kosovo wanted to become independent of Serbia. This was against the will of the then president Slobodan Miloŝeviæ. He tolerated no contradiction and let everyone notice that.
In Kosovo the Albanians were being suppressed, raped and murdered. For that reason they tried to flee the country, but the Serbians had surrounded the area and no one could escape. NATO (North Atlantic Trade Organisation) and the G8 (Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the USA) called Miloŝeviæ to order several times and even more times they tried to let him sign a peace treaty.
After several failed attempts NATO decided to bomb Serbia including Kosovo, solely targets like dumps, airports (in which the fighters from the Serbians), the roads and bridges (so that Serbia would be secluded from the outerworld), television- and radiostations.
Once again NATO appealed to the humanity of Miloŝeviæ, by means of the pact of Rambouillet. All sides, including Albania, signed this pact but in vain: Miloŝeviæ did not yield and refused to sign the pact, so NATO decided to start the air war. Almost every NATO-country (including the Netherlands) sent fighters to help with the shelling. On March 24th the air war started when a Dutch F16 brought down a MIG29 fighter.
Six weeks later everyone concluded that the air attacks didn’t produce in the wished results. The expectation that Miloŝeviæ would give up the Serbian province Kosovo after several shellings didn’t come out. The British Prime Minister Tony Blair was the first one who dared to say it out loud: that maybe groundforces were needed to force Serbia to give way. He got approval from Clinton; France and Germany also didn’t exclude the fact that it might be a good idea. Russia on the other hand remained an adversary of groundforces; notwithstanding the not yet achieved outcomes. To launch the groundforces there were four imaginable scenarios:

1. By far the most attractive option was via Macedonia, because it was only a couple of hours driving along the excellent highways from the Greek port town Thessaloniki to Pristine, the capital of Kosovo. The problem was that Macedonia didn’t allow a NATO-invasion from their territory. The country was afraid of Serbia, from which it (as the only state of ex-Yugoslavia) had separated peacefully. Another problem was that Greece, because of the orthodox religion, felt solidarity with Serbia. It is true that Greece is a NATO-member but a lot of political pressure would be needed to get Athens as far as to open their seaports.


2. The second option was via the reformatted Yugoslav federal state of Montenegro that also has seaports. When there was some talk of Miloŝeviæ allowing an international peacekeeping force voluntarily, this was a serious option. After Miloŝeviæ defended himself with tooth and nail, that plan was out of order.
3. The only NATO-country that has a border with Serbia, Hungary, didn’t like to see a NATO-invasion starting in their country. Because they were afraid that the Serbian aggression would point itself to the circa 350.000 ethnic Hungarians who lived in the border-region.
4. Then leaves only Albania. The country had opened all its airports for NATO and was, because thousands of Albanians in Kosovo had been murdered, very glad to help. Unfortunately the means were missing for that. Albania is the poorest country of Europe and the road-system is very bad for the reason. NATO would have needed to employ a lot of genius people to make the ‘roads’ in the mountainlandscape suitable for the transport of heavy materials.


Eventually NATO didn’t choose to put in the groundforces because they had already chosen for the air attacks and that wouldn’t change. Week after week the habitants of Kosovo hoped that groundforces would still come. Eventually they realized that NATO would never admit that they were wrong and that groundforces were needed.
That is what this political cartoon is about, the fact that the inhabitants kept hoping that groundforces would be sent. A lot of countries felt sorry for them. Therefore hundreds of camera crews came to film all this atrocity, as you can see in the political cartoon. This made no difference for the inhabitants, they didn’t want attention, freedom is what they wanted. They got it, their freedom, a month after the first time people talked about groundforces. The president of Serbia, Slobodan Miloŝeviæ, gave up.
NATO had been put in the right; it had been effective, but only in the end. Maybe it would have gone faster if they had used groundfources? Then maybe fewer people would have been killed and injured, less damage at the infrastructure; in short: less sorrow and grief. But no one would ever find out, which may be a good thing; otherwise it would have been proved that the biggest military force in the world, NATO, could make immensely big mistakes, in judging situations.


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