Essential Public Policy Points Relating to the ISSA Mission to Yugoslavia, 
April 18-21, 1999

The International Strategic Studies Association organized a fact- finding 
mission from Washington DC to Yugoslavia on April 18-21, 1999. The purpose 
was for the Association and a key US Congressman to determine to a greater 
extent factors important to future policymaking with regard to the war being
prosecuted against Yugoslavia. ISSA worked with a Yugoslav NGO, the Institute
for Geopolitical Studies, in facilitating the mission.

US Congressman Jim Saxton (Republican, New Jersey), an ISSA Life Member and 
Chairman of the US House of Representatives Task Force on Terrorism & 
Unconventional Warfare (and member of the House Armed Services Committee; 
and Vice-Chairman of the Joint [House-Senate] Economic Committee), 
participated in the mission, along with the Director of the Task Force on 
Terrorism, Yossef Bodansky.

The mission delegates met with key Yugoslav officials and politicians, at 
the highest levels, including the Foreign Minister. As well, contacts were 
made with non-governmental individuals in Yugoslavia, and an assessment was 
made of NATO bombing damage in the greater Belgrade area.

A. The Rationale Behind the Fact-Finding Visit

1. The visit was principally undertaken to ensure that the US Congress had 
sufficient independent information on the conduct of the war ("the Kosovo 
Crisis") to be able to fully debate proposals put to it by the US 
Administration. The Founding Fathers of the United States wished to ensure 
that there were checks and balances in the US system. The Congress was 
empowered to approve and fund - or disapprove and withhold funding - the 
actions of the Administration, and was charged with the function of 
declaring war. It was, therefore, the responsibility of Congress to satisfy 
itself through the utmost diligence that courses of action to which it 
committed its actions were appropriate. It was never intended that the 
Congress should blindly endorse the Administrative Branch, but rather should
support it or check it after due debate and research.

2. The commitment of US lives into a combat situation, where many lives will
certainly be lost, and where the long-term strategic interests of the United 
States are involved, cannot therefore be undertaken without the most 
complete research and understanding. With regard to the present situation in
Yugoslavia, Congress had until this mission been virtually totally reliant on
the Administrationās view of events, and on the media, which has been greatly
influenced by the only real source of information and opinion available: the 

3. It was necessary to determine far more objectively the real situation 
before one-sided evidence and jingoism was allowed to determine whether 
Congress threw American lives, and the future strategic position of the 
United States, into a war. This was the underlying motive for the ISSA/
Saxton mission to Yugoslavia.

4. It was also necessary to ensure that the United States did not 
unwittingly commit crimes of its own in pursuit of a just solution to the 

B. What was discovered

1. The Flow of Refugees: The international media, because it is largely on 
the external borders of Yugoslavia, has seen only the flow of refugees out 
of the country, to Albania and Macedonia. However, some one-third of the 
Albanian Yugoslav and other ethnic group refugees appear, in fact, to be 
fleeing further into Serbia, to avoid the Kosovo Liberation Army. Yugoslavia
has already been burdened since 1992 with almost one-million refugees from 
Bosnian Serb areas and Croatian Serb areas, as well as Croatians and Muslims
fleeing into Serbia-proper from what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.

2. There is no doubt but that the NATO bombings in Kosovo and in the rest of
Serbia have contributed heavily - perhaps overwhelmingly - toward the outflow
of refugees, not only the Kosovar Albanians but many other ethnic groups who 
have been forced on the road with the destruction of their homes or their 

3. There are some 26 different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia, and some 20 
different ethnic groups living in the Kosovo region. Within Yugoslavia, some
one-third of the population is not of Serbian origin, and this makes it the 
most multi-cultural, multi-religious state in the Balkan region.

4. We saw extensive destruction of civilian targets, many of which could not
be justified by NATO as military targets nor vital to the maintenance of a 
Yugoslav strategic power base. Given the widespread damage to these purely 
civilian targets which we saw, including the direct destruction of homes, it
is not difficult to believe the claims of the Yugoslav Government that some 
400,000 to a half-million people have been thrown out of work because of the
destruction of their workplaces. This means that some 2-million Yugoslavs of 
all ethnic origins are without income, out of a population of some 10+-
million people.

5. Justification for bombing civilian targets has now been given that these 
facilities were owned by relatives of President Milosevic, but the vast 
majority of these factories were either State-owned, privately-owned by 
non-Milosevic family members or, for the greater part, owned jointly by the 
State and by the workforces of the various factories. As a result, this has 
directly contributed to an attack on the average Yugoslav family.

6. There was no evidence to support the contention that the Yugoslav 
warfighting capability has been overwhelming broken by the sustained NATO 
bombing campaign. Rather, the bombing has driven the Yugoslav people to put 
aside their political differences and to unite in the face of an external 
threat, much as would be the case if the United States was attacked. We met 
with people who have, in the past, been totally opposed, politically, to 
President Milosevic. Today, they are working completely with Mr Milosevic to
defend their country. So the intention of the bombing to break the Yugoslav 
people away from Mr Milosevic has totally failed, and shows no sign of 

7. The cost in terms of human casualties from the NATO bombing have largely 
been civilian: between 500 and 1,000 dead, with several thousand injured. 
Military personnel casualties have been minimal.

8. There has clearly been significant damage suffered by Yugoslav military 
assets, including domestic oil refining capability. However, it would be a 
mistake to believe that the real warfighting capability of Yugoslavia has 
been degraded to anything like the level where the insertion of ground 
forces could be successful: that is, that it could militarily defeat 
Yugoslavia without massive loss of life and without destroying the one thing
which the campaign intends to save, namely a viable restoration of Kosovars 
to their homes and livelihoods in the Kosovo region. The net result of an 
insertion of ground forces would be that a protracted war would continue 
within the very rugged terrain of the country, and that the lowland areas 
would be lain-waste to in the process. It surely is not our intention to 
achieve a victory without restoring the homes and employment of the Kosovar 
people (whether of Albanian origin or not).

9. Apart from a costly, protracted war with the massive loss of life among 
NATO states, including, of course, the United States, there is reason for 
grave concern over a wider war. Firstly, it is clear that there would be 
retaliatory actions against major Western targets, such as our own oil 
refineries and nuclear power stations, etc., from Yugoslav special forces or
from non-government Serb activists. So we could expect a major outbreak of 
anti-NATO terrorism, perhaps on a scale not before seen, if we choose to 
escalate the war into a full ground operation. This must at the very least 
be taken into consideration.

10. We attempted to investigate reports that there has already been 
considerable loss of life among NATO forces, and we feel that we received 
some confirmation that this has been the case. Clearly, the cost to NATO in 
human and equipment terms has already been far greater than anything which 
has been announced. Just how extensive the NATO aircraft and personnel 
losses have been remains to be confirmed. What is clear is that already 
there has been a cost to us, apart from the mere monetary cost of equipment 
and consumables. This cost can only rise significantly as the conflict 

11. It has been stated by NATO that the Yugoslav Air Force has been driven 
from the skies, with half the Yugoslav fighter aircraft force lost, and that
all defenses now consist only of anti-aircraft artillery and anti-aircraft 
missiles. It is more likely that the Yugoslav Air Force is preserving its 
forces to be used in any broader conflict. This is not Iraq, and we should 
not make the mistake of believing that the fight, or fighting capability, 
has been driven from the Yugoslavs.

12. There has, in fact, been considerable progress toward reaching a 
political solution acceptable to all moderate parties. And, of course, we 
except from the definition "moderate parties" the so-called Kosovo 
Liberation Army, which derived from the communist origins of the former 
Albanian stalinist leaders and which today is funded largely by narcotic 
trafficking into Western Europe and through extortion. It has been a mistake
for the West to support the KLA now, when moderate Kosovar Albanian leaders 
have been committed to a political solution to the tragedy. Equally, 
attempts to discredit moderate Kosovar Albanian leader Dr Ibrahim Rugova are
counter-productive to achieving a peaceful and lasting solution to the 
problem. The fact that Dr Rugovaās enormous courage in remaining in 
Yugoslavia to seek such a solution is now being dismissed by allegations 
that he is a "virtual prisoner" only serve to reinforce the hand of the KLA,
which has previously been labeled a terrorist force by the United States, and
remains so today. [The matter of KLA terrorism and the prospect of Yugoslav 
special operations in a wider war are both matters which have been the 
subject of considerable study by the US House of Representatives Task Force 
on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chaired by Congressman Saxton.]

13. We received strong indications from the very senior officials with whom 
we met - and clearly the messages which we received were sanctioned by Mr 
Milosevic himself - that virtually all the substantive demands for Kosovoās 
future autonomy within Yugoslavia could be met, and met quickly, provided 
negotiations could resume. As a result, we need to undertake a careful 
step-by- step approach toward peace and we need to see some substantive 
evidence of commitment and goodwill on the part of the Yugoslavs. I believe 
that this will be forthcoming.

14. Without question, we need to ensure that Congress is totally clear on 
the situation before further escalation takes place, and before further 
funding is put in place to continue a protracted war. Congress needs to 
undertake this process of due diligence itself, given the fact that the 
enormous confusion which has taken place due to media manipulation on all 
sides has only contributed to a blood-lust which - if it is the only basis 
for decisionmaking - could lead to a much longer and wider war.

15. Finally, it seems clear that if we accept that we must commit to a 
broader war in Yugoslavia, then we must also accept that US and NATO 
military preoccupation with this conflict will open the door to a range of 
other conflicts which could be of massive and lasting consequence. In this 
regard, we must expect that an expanded war would lead to an exacerbation of
Turkish-Greek tensions leading to a separate war, in which the Cyprus issue 
would become a key. We could expect North Korea to take the opportunity to 
initiate a military attack on South Korea, with Japan drawn into the fray. 
We could expect that the Peopleās Republic of China would use the 
opportunity to attempt to invade Taiwan. We could expect a variety of new 
conflicts to arise in the Middle East. And so on. What is clear, not just to
ourselves but to others, is that we have a finite military force available to
NATO at present, and, because we have spent our post-Cold War "peace dividend
", others will take advantage of the situation to launch their offensives, 
knowing the West does not have the capacity to fight on many fronts.