war in europe

interviews: Policy makers, Military Leaders, Negotiators, Serbs and Kosovar Albanians

how it was fought
ethnic cleansing
for moral values?

Madeleine Albright

She became U.S. Secretary of State in late 1996 and quickly emerged as the Clinton Administration's chief hawk on Kosovo. Albright identified herself so strongly with the push for intervention that critics have called the conflict "Madeleine's War." Some observers have pointed to Albright's personal history to explain her forceful stance; born in Czechoslovakia, Albright was twice a refugee herself, forced to flee both the Nazis and Stalinism.
Samuel Sandy Berger

As U.S. National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger is clearly the first among equals in terms of access to the President. A trade lawyer turned global strategist, Berger's caution and political sensitivities informed much of the government's early policy toward Kosovo.
Tony Blair

In the war in Kosovo, British Prime Minister Tony Blair emerged as the most hawkish of NATO's leaders. As he explains in this interview, he was concerned that NATO's air war against Milosevic might not succeed and he pushed hard to keep the option of a ground invasion alive.
William Cohen

When he served as a Republican Senator from Maine, William Cohen criticized the Clinton Administration's policy in Bosnia, and the lack of an "exit strategy" for US peacekeepers there. As Secretary of Defense, Cohen cited the lack of consensus at home and within NATO for his resistance to the deployment of ground troops in Kosovo.
Ivo Daalder

From 1995 to 1996, Daalder served as director for European Affairs at the National Security Council and coordinated U.S. policy in Bosnia. Currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Daalder is the co-author of the forthcoming book Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo.
Ambassador William Walker

Prior to the outbreak of NATO's war, Ambassador Walker headed up the Kosovo Verification Mission - the international monitoring group sent to Kosovo to guarantee the cease-fire and human rights situation in the troubled province. In January 1999, Walker's frank statements about the Racak Massacre - in which 45 Kosovar Albanian civilians were killed by Serbian police - helped to galvanize international opinion, and led to both the Rambouillet peace talks and a more U.S. forceful policy against Serbia's actions in Kosovo.

General Wesley Clark

As the military aide to Richard Holbrooke during the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, Gen. Wesley Clark acquired firsthand knowledge of Slobodan Milosevic's manner and methods. Named NATO Supreme Allied Commander in 1997, Clark hoped to use this knowledge to snuff out the escalating conflict in Kosovo. But when Milosevic did not fold quickly after NATO began bombing on March 24, Clark started to push the alliance to begin ground troop planning and to deploy Apache helicopters to increase the pressure on Belgrade. While such moves ultimately may have helped end the war, they also alienated Clark from more reticent commanders back at the Pentagon and may have contributed to the Clinton Administration's decision after the war to replace Clark several months before his NATO term ran out.
Gen. Chuck Krulak

Until June 30, 1999, Gen. Krulak was the Commandant of the US Marine Corps and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen. Klaus Naumann

Until early May 1999, Germany's Gen. Klaus Naumann served as NATO's Military Committee chairman, and answered directly to NATO's political representatives. Prior to NATO's war against Serbia, he was part of a negotiating team which tried to get Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo.
Lt. Gen. General Michael Short

During the 78-day war in Kosovo, General Short directed NATO's air operations against Serbia as NATO's Joint Air Force Component Commander. After the war, Short emerged as a sharp critic of two key aspects of NATO's conduct of the war: the political requirements which influenced targets selection and NATO's focus on attacking Serbian forces fielded in Kosovo. Referring to the latter dismissively as "tank plinking," Short instead argued for the need to "go after the head of the snake" and to attack major strategic targets in Serbia itself.

Richard Holbrooke

In 1995, diplomat Richard Holbrooke urged NATO to drop "bombs for peace" in Bosnia - and thereby pressure the Bosnian Serbs, and their protector Slobodan Milosevic, to come to the bargaining table. Holbrooke's success in the ensuing negotiations led the Administration to call upon him again in Kosovo. In 1998, Holbrooke concluded the October Agreement with Milosevic, allowing roughly 250,000 Kosovar Albanians to return home and establishing a short-lived cease-fire monitoring regime. In the final days before the war, NATO turned to Holbrooke once again for a last-ditch, and ultimately unsuccessful, effort to negotiate with Milosevic. Holbrooke is currently the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
Viktor Chernomyrdin

In mid-April 1999, President Yeltsin named former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to be his special envoy to the Balkans. Chernomyrdin's appointment signaled Russia's desire to salvage its relationship with the West and to chart a new course in the Balkans. After a series of marathon negotiations with Strobe Talbott, Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari traveled to Belgrade where they won Milosevic's acceptance of NATO's demands on June 3, 1999.
Strobe Talbott

A long-time friend of President Clinton, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott is the administration's chief link to Russia. In a series of marathon meetings, Talbott, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Russian special envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin hashed out the war-ending deal that Milosevic finally accepted on June 3, 1999. Following the surprise deployment of Russian troops into Kosovo at the end of the war, Talbott also negotiated the details of Russia's participation in the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic

As commander of the Yugoslav 3rd Army, Gen. Pavkovic held overall responsibility for the prosecution of the war in Kosovo. Since the Serbian withdrawal, Pavkovic has claimed that NATO did only minimal damage to Yugoslav troops and has repeatedly threatened to renew fighting in Kosovo. A Milosevic loyalist, he is now the Yugoslav army chief of staff.
Serb Soldiers

Three volunteer and conscripted Serb soldiers describe their participation in the persecution of Kosovar Albanians.

Hashim Thaci

He is a former Kosovar Albanian student leader who helped to found the underground movement that became the KLA. Nicknamed "Snake," he returned from Switzerland in 1998 to fight against the Serbs. At the Rambouillet peace conference, the 30-year-old Thaci garnered international attention as the KLA representative who stubbornly refused to compromise the rebel group's agenda. Since the war, Thaci has served as the prime minister of the KLA's self-styled provisional government.
KLA Soldiers

Three KLA fighters speak about why they took up arms against Serbian forces.
Kosovar Albanian Survivors

Three Kosovar Albanian survivors relate what happened during the massacre at Precaz on February 26, 1998 and at Racak on January 15, 1999.

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