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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK

Should Nato fight a ground war?

"The final aim of the war should be an international protectorate in Kosovo."
Tony Borden, executive director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting

"It is practically not feasible to get the Albanians back home, the political aims of the Nato operation is still unclear."
Professor Attila Pok, a historian in Budapest

Tony Borden and Professor Attila Pok discuss the possiblity of a ground war
Listen to our debate hosted by Mark Reid.

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

The Background:

Kosovo: Special Report
As thousands of Nato troops head for Albania to bolster the ongoing humanitarian effort, western politicians have been repeating their pledges that the refugees will be going back home; that Serbia must agree to their demands for peace.

But with growing doubts over the effectiveness of the Nato air campaign, there is increasing talk of the need for ground troops.

After a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, the alliance appeared to be edging closer to accepting the idea of sending ground troops to fight their way into Kosovo.

Talking Point - Europewide
But President Yeltsin has specifically warned against such action.

Do you think that the use of ground troops is now inevitable?

Background ¦ Your reaction ¦ Listen to the debate

Your Reaction:

Reluctantly, yes. But only when it appears that the air campaign cannot achieve its ends. If we aren't prepared to do the job of ending Milosevic's criminal actions once and for all, why bother to begin at all? I say go big, or go home.
David, Canada

Yes, as quickly as possible. In 1999 no one in Europe should have to put up with being forced out of their home at gunpoint.
Dan, UK

What are the armies for? Why do we keep spending budgets on them? Don't tell me about western casualties, or parents receiving corpses. Every soldier knows the kind of work he/she has chosen. So obey your orders. Send the troops, because is the only way to stop the slaughter.
Juan, Spain

At last. It's really soothing to see that American people don't really believe what their president says and refuse to support the bloodshed that's going to begin if Nato starts ground army operations. We are not numbers, we are individuals with our own personality and shouldn't be sacrified for the sake of imperialism. Don't let them fire up the Balkans.
NM, Greece

The US public will scream so loud as soon as the first body bags start arriving, ground troops will get no chance to serve any useful purpose.
Sonya, USA

If Nato is not willing to send in ground troops, then it must arm the KLA because this is the only way to save the Albanians remaining in Kosovo. If Nato countries are not prepared to risk the lives of their soldiers, the KLA is prepared to do so.
Manos, Germany

Maybe if there is no other way. But right now it does seem that Nato doesn't make enough effort to end it peacefully. What do they expect from Milosevic - he doesn't give a damn. The Russians should be more involved in bringing a peaceful solution. If Nato keeps this attitude they are a bigger danger than the Serbs. Even if there is the slightest chance of getting Russian troops to supervise the Serbs in Kosovo the killing might end. Russian UN forces in Kosovo might be the only acceptable alternative for both sides. What are the alternatives? Nato ground troops and a possible WW3, or several years of surgical bombing?
Alexander, The Netherlands

This conflict has the potential to become a World War III. We should protect our own and keep our young men and women home.
Helen Sharratt, Canada

We will kill them all if they come on the ground.
Draza, Serbia

When the allied troops landed at Normandy during D day they took heavy casualties. They knew that the Nazi's weren't going to just simply give up, they knew that they had to push ahead, physically, and fight a bloody war on the ground in order to bring the third reich down, what else? We may have moved on technologically but when it comes to crushing the spirit and the capability of the enemy regime to slaughter innocent people, we have to accept that it'll take a bloody, hard fight to do it, unfortunately enough.
David Lyle-Carter, Germany

No!!! My uncle died in Vietnam. I don't want my brother dying in Serbia. I bet in 50 years we'll say "sorry" to Serbs like we did to Vietnamese.

There will be no ground troops in Kosova until the war is over. As in Bosnia, some kind of compromise will be reached in Kosovo. Public support for ground troops is based on melodramatics not on knowledge of the history in the real situation in Kosovo. That is not how you fight a war. Clinton is smart enough to realise that. Just remember Somalia.
Goran Stankovic, USA

Go ahead, send those guys there and I'll give you a prediction. We'll be sorry for it!!! Now we are screaming for it, most of us won't have to go there and fight the war, right? So it obviously easy to vote for it when you watch TV and eat popcorn. Serbs know what they are fighting for. Do we??? Just imagine for a second what kind of cargo ten snipers would be able to deliver back to American mothers and fathers. Don't you all see what we can get involved in to? I guess we all assumed that this degenerate Russian president is just kidding. Can anybody guarantee it? Why we always do something first and think later??? Aren't we suppose to learnt from our past experiences.
Oliver, USA

Whilst women who are seven months pregnant are being raped and then murdered, I cannot see how any right thinking person can say that we are not justified in starting a ground war.
Stewart Cotterill, England

I believe that we as citizens of the world have a moral obligation to protect and aid those that are in need of help. The Kosovar Albanians are in need of help and protection. We should send in ground troops. However we need to be very careful that we do not widen the war to include Russia and Belarus. I do not think that arming the KLA is the answer because they may use the weapons for revenge against innocent Serbs who live in Kosovo.
Tre, USA

I would just like to speak in response to THEMOS TSIKAS of the UK. I served in the British Army for 18 years leaving only recently I would NEVER have been prepared to die for "Nato credibility", only for my country. It is very easy for people to call for ground troops when it isn't themselves who will be put at risk. Enough British troops have been killed in the Balkans already don't let their be anymore!
George, Australia

Boots on the ground are the only way to put a knife to the throat of the Serbian paramilitaries committing atrocities, and ultimately, the only way to stop the slaughter and displacement of Kosovars and a third world war in Europe.
Jamie, USA

My family immigrated to the USA because of the repression and the fact that the Balkans will NEVER live in peace because we hate each other! We are different people and were forced to live together and get along under Tito's iron fist. This is the joining of 3 empires/religions (Roman Catholic, Islam, and Orthodox) and will always have conflict because of it. It is insulting to me as a Croatian woman to hear the west telling us to just get along when no one really understands our culture or history. Until Croatia and Slovenia left Yugoslavia most of my American friends didn't even know where my family was from. The truth is the Serbs will always "ethnic cleanse" when given the opportunity, the world should have known that after Bosnia. The best thing to do is get the Serbs out of Kosovo, draw a line, and make people stay on their own side. Out of sight, out of mind!
Jadranka, USA, (Croatian)

As a former member of the British Army for 17 years, I think the politicians should think very carefully before committing British troops to a ground offensive. The majority of British soldiers did not join to fight in a foreign country's civil war, it is very easy to sit in a comfortable office and say send in the troops when it will have no effect on yourself. Everyone is shocked by the pictures coming out of Kosovo but much care must be taken before committing British lives to this war!
Simon, Australia

Nato will lose a ground war cause we defend our lives, the lives of our children and their future. If you defend something so valuable like freedom then you are a very dangerous fighter.
Vladimir Milovanovic, Yugoslavia

Give the air war a chance. There have been only 8 days of good weather. We can wait for a month, two months, even longer. When Milosevic runs out of the following: fuel, railroads, highways, bridges, factories, and communications, let us then see what he says. But in the meantime prepare for troops to be deployed, which does not mean they will necessarily be employed.
Louis Schmittroth, Canada

Why war? Is war the way to stop humanitarian disaster or to make another?
Jova, Macedonia

I would love to see some Nato troops deployed on the ground of Kosovo. For one it would certainly be a moral breakthrough for Nato to quit the obscene tactic of burning 10-year-olds from the air, and fight in a more decent way. Additionally, I believe that every decent man in the world would rejoice at the pictures of dead American and British troops that would be soon to follow.
Christos Georgalas, Greece

I am Croatian and am horrified that the world would let the Serbs kill again. Milosevic is the king of propaganda and misleads the Serbs to think that they are the victims. Wake up Yugoslavia! The world media does not lie and this would not be happening to you if you would have stopped the violence ... you deserve every bit of it.
Jadranka, USA

Nato should not fight a ground war cause they will be eaten alive!
Vasilije Cetkovic, Yugoslavia

Of course not. The public opinion must not allow the hypocrites of Nato to achieve their imperialistic plans. If we allow them now to act as world police and ignore UN, they will make the same in the future. I don't believe that a person accused of sexual scandals and perjury can be allowed to decide about the future of the world. If he was a common employee he would be fired.
Defkalion, Greece

Deploying troops in the Balklans is integral to the military operation - to say that we should not deploy troops is to say we should not have started a military action. Politicians separate the air attacks from a potential land attack to ease public opinion. It is only in recent years that the collective opinion of the masses has had a tangible effect on how war is 'conducted'.
People are empowered by the communicative technologies - images are downloaded in minutes - these images should empower us with the beginnings of the proof - what more do we need? It was only towards the close of the second world war that we had the tangible proof of Dachau, Buchenwald and Auschwitz. History has many lessons showing the fallacy of military aggression and many more that show the despair of looking the other way. Lets not forget that even as we debate, the Serbs have started incursions into Albania.
Maurice, UK

It seems that US never learn any lessons from history. If they want second Vietnam they will get it. It is not Milosevic who they will be fighting with but Serb people who will be fighting and dying for their country. And for whom US and British soldiers will be dying for? For Nato's credibility?
Alex Chetaline, Czech Republic

I think the deployment of ground troops is now a necessary evil. We need somehow to allow the Kosovars to get back to their homes, the very homes we (Nato) in effect drove them out of. On the wider picture, it is clear that the Americans have been the driving force behind the crime committed by Nato in Serbia, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands of civilians. We, as Europeans, should be asking ourselves why we allow the USA to dictate intervention in our continent, when clearly its reasons are political and not ethical. This is American imperialism in its most destructive form - human rights take a back seat to political and economic priorities. As for New Labour, the 'ethical' foreign policy was a joke a long time ago but now its getting sick.
Peter lalvani, England

Nato cannot back down now. They must send the troops inside Kosovo and create a buffer zone allowing Kosovars to return to their homes. Once they push the Yugoslav army out of Kosovo Russian troops should also be called in to keep the peace in the region. Nato should not allow Milosevic to possibly divide Kosovo (as he has done the same in Bosnia) cos that will not solve their problem of refugees.
AB, Bosnia

Nato is right on, however, what they are doing is NOT enough, we must send in ground troops NOW, before it becomes too late. Nato can muster strong committed ground troops from the various countries who do not fear for the loss of their troops for a very worthy cause and for establishing the human values. Many Muslim countries should be able to offer ground troops to further avoid the catastrophe of their fellow brothers, sisters, because basically the KOSOVARs are being persecuted for their religious belief.
A Ingar, Canada

Fighting a ground war may start WW3. Do you want to take the risk of having your children blown up? Do you think that Russia will bomb the UK? You better believe it.
John Hanson, Russia

Don't punish the Serbian civilians for the sins of Milosevic and his thugs. Stop the senseless bombing of Serbia proper. Engage with the Serbian forces in Kosovo, sending in ground troops if necessary to save the lives of the thousands of displaced Albanians. Also, the west should start accepting refugees on a scale compatible with the scale of the disaster, and offer them political asylum instead of sending them into concentration camps. If you don't have the stomach to protect human rights (and they cannot be protected from the air) why engage in the first place. Bombing Serbia proper only boosts morale there.
Alexander Kolev, Bulgaria (currently living in Poland)

Ground troops should of been the first priority with regards to this situation, backed up by prior and continuing air bombardment of key targets.
Steve Robertson, UK

If Nato's objective is to create independent Kosovo and Greater Albania that would be best achieved by arming and training Kosovo Liberation Army. This will turn Serbian army into aggression, occupation force, and they were never any good at that role. However, when fighting defensive war and "for their own soil and fatherland" Serbs were always formidable enemy. Nato countries should be prepared to absorb big-time casualties, live broadcast via TV and Internet.
Ivan Jankovic, Canada

Nato must and I mean "MUST" commit field forces. However we cannot have a repeat of Somalia (no half-stepping). To put and end to the mess in Kosovo, we must put an abundance of troops in the theatre. If ground troops are indeed considered, I honestly hope that they are not being considered without being properly backed up by armour and artillery. If this is done, I guarantee that once the ground offensive starts, the hostilities will end in a matter of weeks not months.
Leo, USA

Traditionally a war has been won with a defeat; either by killing the leader, or marching upon the capital. Bombing will not achieve defeat. John Simpson's reports show this. The people of Serbia do not support Milosevic but are rallying to protect their country - as we did during the Blitz. Adversity unifies. Troops on the ground, with a clear objective would reduce the number of civilian casualties, and the Kosovans left behind could be protected in person.
B Chapman, UK

I think Nato should admit that its campaign is not working. It is not bringing peace but only creating a larger war. Instead of a ground war, Nato should go back to settling this war diplomatically like it should have done in the first place.
Travis Ennis, USA

Nato should send in ground troops for the simple reason that any other decision would reward the repulsive and dangerous policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by Milosevic. One should not forget that any deal cut with Milosevic will certainly comprise a partition of Kosovo, an aim which he had been pursuing since the beginning of the conflict. He will never settle for anything less! If Nato is ready to accept such a huge and spectacular loss of face, fine; but this will mean the irreversible alienation of the Albanians, and certainly a sanctioning of the idea that ethnic cleansing does pay. In that case, get ready for the disintegration of Macedonia.
Auron Cecaj, The Netherlands

The only war aim that can no longer be achieved through negotiations is the retrieval of 'Nato's credibility'. We would be sending in our soldiers to die for that.
Themos Tsikas, UK

The possibility that there will be a third world war increases if Nato should use ground troops. That is something we should be very aware of. Russia's threat is not something we should or can ignore. And I do not believe Russia and China can win against Nato if they do not use nuclear power. So if they threaten a world war, they threaten with nuclear power. So we should not use ground troops.
Christian A Mölk, Sweden

Nato should fight like the real men that they claim they are instead of like cowards, throwing bombs on innocent civilians. Nato knows that the Serbs are good fighters, that is why they are scared of sending ground troops.
Dana, USA

Absolutely no way should Nato troops invade Kosovo. If any troops are committed it should be under the banner of the UN. Maybe for once another voice will be heard other than the Americans, and the British governments agreeing to everything they say. Yes the plight of the Albanian people is a very serious matter and needs urgent assistance from the international community, but it should be the international community that provides the assistance and not Nato. A consideration for the people who are supporting the use of ground troops, what will they say when many young soldiers are injured or killed in the invasion of Kosovo and the possibility is of an escalation in the conflict to all out war - will they still think that it was worthwhile?
Mark Breingan, UK

The Serbs have now invaded Albania and they are already a threat in Montenegro. Macedonia may also be at risk. I do not see any other option but to send ground troops in. However I believe it necessary to incapacitate the Serbian military as much as possible with the air campaign before sending the troops in.
Katie Dawson, USA

Ground troops or not, the war seems to be lost for Nato. Would the displaced people ever go back? To what? More problems, more hardships? Before Nato bombed the area, it had discussions going and there was hope.. now nothing. It always ends on the negotiation table which the Nato has bombed out.
Anshuman, India

Sad to say, but ground troops are the only way to get the Serbs to obey the norms of human behaviour.
Hugh Jones, Canada

During the past week's air strikes by Nato forces, the balance of power has been in Nato's favour. However should Nato deploy ground troops expect a catastrophe that they will live to regret! I can assure you that the balance of power will shift to the weaker side.
Bob Kirenga, Uganda

We are concerned at the reaction from the Russians about their pride. A number of issues arise. First, would the Russians go to war over a regime which clearly is cruel to its own people. Second, clearly if they do then we can see that the supposed post cold war Russia is the former USSR in a different disguise. Stalin ethnically cleansed vast areas of his country as documented in the Gulag Archipelago.
Brendan O'Brien, UK

Nato cannot back down, if the airbomb is not useful, then ground war is unvoidable. It is the key time for new Nato.
Jack, China

Its too late for anything but a ground war. Nato has gotten involved in a war and we now must win the war or see the little tin pot dictators around the world try taking a bite out of us every other day.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

Don't start what you can't finish. 1) Things never go as expected. 2) As soon as those body bags start coming home, HA! 3) This country still hasn't dealt with Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange.
John Bria, USA

NATO should fight like the real men that they claim they are instead of like cowards, throwing bombs on innocent civilians. NATO knows that Serbs are good fighters, that is why they are scared of sending in ground troops.
Dana, USA

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