Hoping to redeem himself and his presidency, Bill Clinton now confronts the crisis in Kosovo.  Had the U.S. not intervened, Clinton might have gone down in history as the only president to allow three incidents of genocide to occur without reacting (Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo).  Instead, he has worked with NATO to intervene through air power but now faces the reality that air power has been unable to prevent ethnic cleansing.

The second group project will focus on Clinton’s dilemma.  Develop answers for each of the following:
1. What should U.S. policy now be?
2. What options should be considered?
3. If you were in Clinton’s position, what would you do?
4. Finally, what steps should Clinton take to enlist public and congressional support for his policy?

Your group answers to this real world case will be discussed during class on April 28 and on April 30.  Presentations will be made in reverse order starting with 5-B.  Groups will be able to work on the presentations during the classes of April 23 and 26.

In addition to the group presentation, each of you is required to complete a paper addressing the same questions.  Your paper should be typed, double-spaced and include both citations and a bibliography of materials used in completing your paper.  Be certain to submit all research materials used in completing the paper in a manila envelope.  The due date is Monday May 3 in class.

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                                             April 18, 1999, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 1; Page 1; Column 2; Foreign Desk

LENGTH: 6547 words

How a President, Distracted by Scandal, Entered Balkan War


   On Jan. 19, President Clinton's top aides met in the Situation Room in the White House basement to hear a fateful new plan for an autonomous Kosovo from
Madeleine K. Albright, the Secretary of State. NATO, she urged, should use the threat of air strikes on Yugoslavia to force a peace agreement to be monitored by
the alliance's ground troops.

The President, who had other matters on his mind, was not there. His lawyers were starting their arguments on the Senate floor against his removal from office. That
night he was to deliver his State of the Union address.

Nearly 5,000 miles away, in Belgrade, Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the NATO commander, and Gen. Klaus Naumann, chairman of the NATO military council, were
sitting with President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia. They came brandishing a plastic portfolio of color photographs documenting a massacre of Albanians three
days earlier by Serbian security forces in the Kosovo town of Racak. They also came with threats of NATO air strikes.

This was far from their first encounter with the Serbian leader, but this time, they recalled, they found a newly hardened man with a bunker mentality.

"This was not a massacre," Mr. Milosevic shouted. "This was staged. These people are terrorists."

When General Clark warned him that NATO would "start telling me to move aircraft," Mr. Milosevic appeared infuriated by the prospect of bombings. He called
the general a war criminal.

Jan. 19 is already seen as a pivotal day in the Clinton Presidency. But it may turn out to be so less for the Senate impeachment hearings and State of the Union
address than for the moves toward war over Kosovo.

Kosovo would have presented a daunting foreign policy challenge even to a President whose powers of persuasion and moral authority had not been damaged by a
year of sex scandal and impeachment.

It is unclear whether the President's decisions on Kosovo would have been any different if he had not been distracted by his own political and legal problems. But it
is clear that his troubles gave him less maneuvering room to make his decisions. Diplomacy that came to rely heavily on military threats reduced the wiggle room even

Over the previous year, sharp criticism and questioning of Mr. Clinton's motives arose each time he did take military action, as with the strikes in December against
Iraq when the House was poised to vote on his impeachment.

Now, Mr. Clinton is facing mounting criticism for not having acted earlier or more decisively on Kosovo. His critics say that had he done so, Mr. Milosevic would
not have been able to move troops and equipment into Kosovo and carry out the massive "ethnic cleansing" of the past four weeks.

As the President viewed the situation, there were only "a bunch of bad options" confronting him, he said earlier this month.

Throughout, the NATO allies hoped, even assumed, that they were dealing with the Milosevic who negotiated the Bosnian peace at Dayton, Ohio, the man who lied
and manipulated and ranted in all-night, Scotch-laden negotiations and then cut a deal in the morning when he saw that it was in his interest. Instead they were dealing
with the Milosevic of Belgrade, who was willing to employ mass murder to assure his continued dominance of Serbia.

George J. Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, predicted in Congressional testimony in February that there would be a major spring offensive by the Serbs in
Kosovo and huge refugee flows. But intelligence assessments presented to Mr. Clinton about how Mr. Milosevic would respond to NATO threats of military force
were vague. These reports included speculation that the Yugoslav leader would back down in the face of air strikes.

One interagency intelligence report coordinated by the C.I.A. in January 1999, for example, concluded that "Milosevic doesn't want a war he can't win."

"After enough of a defense to sustain his honor and assuage his backers he will quickly sue for peace," the assessment went on. Another interagency report in
February stated, "He doesn't believe NATO is going to bomb."

Prodded by such assessments and his advisers, the President pressed ahead with a strategy of threats coupled with negotiations, gambling that Mr. Milosevic would
back down. These threats quickly became a test of NATO's credibility, with the added onus of the alliance's looming 50th anniversary, which is to be observed next

Last September, former Senator Bob Dole went to Kosovo to gather facts for an international refugee group of which he is chairman. On his return, he reported his
findings to Mr. Clinton. Afterward Mr. Clinton sat with him alone in the Oval Office and asked for his help in lobbying his former Senate colleagues to vote against
conviction in the impeachment trial.

In an interview, Mr. Dole said he thought "a lot of attention was diverted" from Yugoslavia and other foreign policy issues by the impeachment. It was "all
consuming," he added, and Kosovo "may have been one of the casualties."

The Dangers
A Balkan Firestorm That Slowly Spread

From the moment Yugoslavia fell apart in 1991, Kosovo -- with its 90 percent ethnic Albanian population, and a Serbian minority that held its land sacred -- was
viewed as a place from which a wider war could erupt. The Bush Administration, which had adopted a hands-off policy on the killings in Croatia and Bosnia,
warned Mr. Milosevic on Dec. 29, 1992, that the United States was prepared to take unilateral military action if the Serbs sparked a conflict in Kosovo.

The Clinton Administration reiterated the warning weeks after the inauguration. Three years later, when the Administration convened the conference in Dayton to end
the Bosnia war, Kosovo was not on the agenda.

"Bosnia was then the emergency, and it had to be stopped," said Richard C. Holbrooke, the American envoy who negotiated the agreement at Dayton, in an
interview. "Otherwise there would have been a real risk that Bosnia would merge with Kosovo into a huge firestorm that would destabilize the whole region." Over
the next two years, younger, more confrontational ethnic Albanians began to build a ragtag army, supplied with weapons from neighboring Albania and financed
largely by the Albanian diaspora in Europe and the United States.

They faced serious obstacles. Mr. Milosevic, who had risen to power on the cause of protecting Kosovo's minority Serbs, took away Kosovo's broad autonomy in
1989 and was unlikely to give it back without a fight.

The killing in Kosovo began in earnest in February 1998, when the Serbs retaliated for rebel attacks on policemen with brutal operations of their own in the Drenica
area. Members of the Kosovo Liberation Army and their families were slain.

The Administration sent Robert S. Gelbard, its envoy to the region, to confront Mr. Milosevic with horrific photographs of death and mutilation. A veteran State
Department official respected for his tenacity but known for his temper, Mr. Gelbard had experience in Bosnia and Croatia. But he did not have much of a personal
relationship with the Serbian leader, whom he castigated in unusually blunt language.

The Drenica killings, Mr. Gelbard felt, were the kind of ruthless act that would further radicalize the restive Albanian population and lead to an explosion that could
affect the entire region.

"You have done more than anyone to increase the membership of the K.L.A.," Mr. Gelbard told Mr. Milosevic. "You are acting as if you were their secret
membership chairman."

The meeting ended badly, American officials said. Mr. Milosevic was infuriated and would eventually refuse to meet with Mr. Gelbard at all.

The Distractions
Foreign Policy Crisis Comes at a Bad Time

The eruption of violence in Kosovo in early 1998 could not have come at a more inopportune moment for the Clinton Administration.

The President and his aides were consumed by the Lewinsky affair. The Clinton foreign policy team was focused on Presidential visits to China and Africa and on
Russia's economic implosion. Legislative electoral politics, especially with an incendiary sex scandal enveloping the White House, was never far from the President's
concerns. And Kosovo did not register in any public opinion polls.

One of the President's political advisers said in an interview: "I hardly remember Kosovo in political discussions. It was all impeachment, impeachment, impeachment.
There was nothing else."

Nonetheless, the spring of 1998 posed a question: Would the Administration, which had reaffirmed Mr. Bush's Christmas warning, take any action?

Weighing their options, officials said, they quickly ruled out unilateral military strikes, the very response Mr. Bush had promised. If anything was to be done, it would
be in concert with the NATO allies, who along with America had troops on the ground as part of the international force in Bosnia. The United States could not start
bombing while its allies were exposed in a neighboring country.

From then on, everything about Kosovo was subject to decisions by an alliance that worked by consensus and was soon to grow from 16 to 19 members.

Senior Administration officials who had lived through the years of delay and inaction in Bosnia believed they had learned a few things about how to deal with Mr.
Milosevic. Diplomacy could work, but only if it was linked to the credible threat of force.

Ms. Albright began making the case for military action. At one key meeting in May, Mr. Gelbard argued that the time had come for air strikes.

Officials say Samuel R. Berger, the national security adviser, was opposed. The United States could not threaten without being prepared to follow up with a specific

Mr. Gelbard replied that he had already worked out some bombing targets with the NATO commander, General Clark. But Mr. Berger rejected the plan and no
one else in the room supported Mr. Gelbard, who declined to discuss his role, saying only, "When I had the lead role on Kosovo issues I had complete support from
the President and the Secretary of State."

The Administration then turned to Mr. Holbrooke. He pressed the Kosovo Albanians' main political leader, Ibrahim Rugova, who was becoming increasingly
marginalized in his own camp, to meet with Mr. Milosevic. The payoff for Mr. Rugova was a meeting with Mr. Clinton in the Oval Office on May 27.

In a brief conversation with the President and Vice President Al Gore, Mr. Rugova warned that without direct American intervention, Kosovo was headed for
all-out war. He pleaded for urgent American action and an increased American presence to halt the escalating violence.

"We will not allow another Bosnia to happen in Kosovo," a senior Administration official quoted Mr. Clinton as telling Mr. Rugova. The assurances were largely
theoretical. Nothing concrete was promised.

After Mr. Rugova presented the President with a gift of a large piece of quartz mined from Kosovo, Mr. Clinton spent part of their time together telling him about
similar minerals in his home state of Arkansas.

The two men posed for a photo. The meeting received little press coverage.

The Options
From Cruise Missiles To a Force of 200,000

There was plenty of other news in Washington that spring. Kenneth W. Starr's sex-and-lies inquiry was still preoccupying the White House. There were drawn-out
court battles between the President's lawyers and Mr. Starr over whether senior Administration aides, a few of whom were involved in foreign policy issues, should
be forced to testify before Mr. Starr's grand jury.

In June, with the six-nation Contact Group on the Balkans warning Mr. Milosevic that he could not count on the West's dithering on Kosovo as it had on Bosnia,
NATO was ordered to draw up plans for military action. Mr. Milosevic promised concessions.

The American strategy seemed to be working.

The situation on the ground, however, was far from stable. The Albanian guerrillas used the early summer to take control of some 40 percent of Kosovo, and Mr.
Milosevic responded with a major offensive.

NATO's military planners began weighing their options. These ranged from an attack involving only the firing of cruise missiles to a phased air campaign to
deployment of peacekeeping troops as part of a negotiated or imposed settlement. The planners also looked at what it would take to invade Yugoslavia. Western
officials said the numbers were staggering: As many as 200,000 soldiers would be needed for a ground war.

In a few months in the spring and summer of 1992, Bosnian Serb forces expelled hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs from their homes in Bosnia. In 1995, the
Croats in Croatia drove more than 100,000 Serbs from their homes in just a few days.

Seven years later, officials said, no one planned for the tactic of population expulsion that has been the currency of Balkan wars for more than a century and that Mr.
Milosevic adopted in Kosovo: the expulsion, this time within weeks, of hundreds of thousands of people.

"There were a lot of Milosevic watchers who said a few bombs might do it," a senior NATO official said. "What was not assumed, and not postulated, was that he
would try to empty the country of its ethnic majority."

NATO officials were wrestling with several legal and political hurdles, officials disclosed. Some NATO members were worried about imposing a peace without the
approval of the United Nations Security Council.

Alexander Vershbow, the United States representative to NATO and a former National Security Council aide who had been deeply involved in Bosnia policy,
suggested an answer in a classified cable titled "Kosovo: Time for Another Endgame Strategy."

Mr. Vershbow's plan, officials said, arrived with a heavy political price tag: The possible dispatch of NATO soldiers just before a midterm election and in the midst
of the impeachment fight.

The cable spelled out a plan to impose a political settlement in Kosovo with the cooperation of the Russians, longtime allies of the Serbs. Moscow and Washington
would then go together to the Security Council.

"Kosovo endgame initiative could become a model of NATO-Russian cooperation," Mr. Vershbow wrote. "No kidding."

The proposed deal called for creation of an international protectorate in Kosovo. The settlement would be policed by an international military presence, or ground
force. If a peace settlement was negotiated in advance, as many as 30,000 troops might be required to enforce it. But Mr. Vershbow also left open the possibility
that NATO might have to impose a settlement without Belgrade's consent, requiring 60,000 troops. To help sell the idea in Congress, Mr. Vershbow said, the
American contribution could be limited.

"Sooner or later we are going to face the issue of deploying ground forces in Kosovo," he wrote in his cable. "We have too much at stake in the political stability of
the south Balkans to permit the conflict to fester much longer."

Beyond concerns about the American ground troops in Bosnia, there were fears that a Kosovo war could spread, and even engulf Greece and Turkey, both NATO

The cable landed in Washington on Aug. 7, the day bombs exploded outside the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It was circulated as Mr. Clinton was
preparing for his pivotal appearance before the grand jury investigating the Lewinsky affair and the White House was planning the cruise missile attack against Sudan
and the Afghan bases of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile suspected of directing the attacks.

The plan generated some interest among midlevel officials in Washington. Senior officials agreed that it underscored the need to come up with a comprehensive
strategy. In the end nothing came of it.

Mr. Clinton was under attack for his grand jury testimony and faced questions about whether his military decisions were motivated by domestic politics.

Jokes about the movie "Wag the Dog" became commonplace. Fittingly, the President in the movie seeking to distract attention from a sex scandal stages an ersatz
conflict in, of all places, Albania.

The Politics
No Will for Troops On Eve of Election

In Washington, impeachment was on Mr. Clinton's mind. Returning from a September visit to the region, Mr. Dole stopped in to see Mr. Clinton and Mr. Berger.

"The President listened carefully," Mr. Dole said in interview. "I don't recall him saying a great deal. He agreed it was terrible. Sandy Berger didn't say much, either."
Then Mr. Berger left the room. "We discussed impeachment," Mr. Dole said. "This was a critical time in the Monica events."

Midterm elections were also at hand, and the Democrats were perceived to be on the run. Republicans fired another shot across Mr. Clinton's bow, warning against
bombing Serbia.

"The Serbians have done what they wanted," Senator Trent Lott, the majority leader, said in an interview broadcast Oct. 4. "Now they're pulling back and now, only
now what appears to be -- will be -- three weeks before an election, we're going to go in and bomb."

Senate Democrats were warning at the same time that they had little appetite for military involvement of any kind in Kosovo.

Senator Joseph R. Biden, the Delaware Democrat who favored action on Kosovo, said then that several Democratic colleagues approached him at a party caucus
on Oct. 6 and said, "Don't count me in, Joe, don't count me in."

At the White House, the Democrats' leading Presidential contender for 2000, Vice President Gore, was keeping an eye on his own political future.

Officials say he supported air strikes in Kosovo but was careful to say little in meetings attended by large numbers of officials. His national security adviser, Leon
Fuerth, prodded intelligence officials to scour the files for evidence that might implicate Mr. Milosevic in war crimes.

In October, the President outlined the plan for NATO air strikes in a letter to leading senators. The attacks, he said, would start out strong and "progressively
expand in their scale and scope," especially if Mr. Milosevic and his forces remained in Kosovo.

"There will be no pinprick strikes," the President said in the letter.

NATO had agreed to the approach in a meeting of defense ministers in late September, in Vilamoura, Portugal. At the private meeting, William S. Cohen challenged
his colleagues to embrace a new role for the alliance. If NATO could not muster a threat to Mr. Milosevic under these circumstances, he asked, what was the point
of the alliance?

The Defense Secretary's toughened stance was striking. During the Bosnia crisis, he had assured his Congressional colleagues that American troops would be out of
the region within 18 months.

There were limits. As Mr. Cohen made clear this week in Congressional testimony, his commitment was to air power, not the deployment of American soldiers on
the battlefield. Questioned by the Senate Armed Services Committee as to why the United States did not field a credible ground threat last fall, he replied:

"At that time, you may recall there was great discontent up here on Capitol Hill. If I had come to you at that time and requested authorization to put a ground force in
-- U.S., unilaterally, acting alone -- I can imagine the nature of the questions I would have received. You'd say, 'Well, No. 1, where are our allies? And No. 2, who's
going to appropriate the money? No 3, how long do you intend to be there? How many? How long? How much? And what's the exit strategy?' "

The Secretary concluded, "And that would have been the extent of the debate and probably would have received an overwhelming rejection from the committee."

The First Deal
Bargain on Monitors Averts an Air Strike

Despite the harsh words and warning to Mr. Milosevic in the fall of 1998, no one, either in the Administration or in NATO, was eager to use force against the Serbs.
So the White House turned again to Mr. Holbrooke to broker a deal that would push the issue into the next year.

It was a tall order.

For Dayton, Mr. Holbrooke had softened up Mr. Milosevic for months in advance and had sensed that the Serbian leader wanted a deal. In Ohio, Mr. Milosevic
gave up territory in Bosnia, which was a separate country, and ended a war that was costing Belgrade huge sums of money.

When it came to Kosovo, the American envoy was pushing Mr. Milosevic to loosen his grip on land in his own country, a hallowed battlefield on which Serbian
soldiers died trying to repel a Turkish invasion six centuries ago.

His only inducement was the threat of air strikes.

Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Holbrooke talked for nine days, and when it was over, the Serbian leader had made some concessions, perhaps significant, but they were
only loosely outlined.

He agreed to withdraw the bulk of his forces from Kosovo. He said he would permit 1,800 unarmed international inspectors to monitor the deal and would allow
overflights by NATO spy planes.

A token number of Yugoslav officers were to be sent to the NATO air base at Vicenza, Italy, with an equally small number of NATO officers stationed inside
Serbia's Defense Ministry.

There was a catch. Mr. Milosevic wanted the lifting of the NATO order that gave authority to launch strikes immediately. Mr. Holbrooke made no promises. But he
headed to Brussels, where he summoned NATO representatives to a meeting to report that a deal was nearly clinched.

The representatives voted to suspend the order, not remove it, angering Mr. Milosevic.

In Belgrade the next day, Mr. Milosevic told Mr. Holbrooke he was enraged that the order had not been entirely lifted. "He considered it a declaration of war," said
one American involved in the discussions.

President Clinton praised the deal as a triumph of force-backed diplomacy, saying it was the basis for a lasting peace. Mr. Milosevic, he said, has "agreed to
internationally supervised democratic elections in Kosovo, substantial self-government and a local police -- in short, rights the Kosovars have been demanding since
Mr. Milosevic stripped their autonomy a decade ago."

Within days, there were strong hints that Mr. Milosevic was not cowed. At a meeting in Belgrade to discuss implementing the agreement, General Clark asked him
why some of the security forces covered by the agreement had not been withdrawn from Kosovo.

"That was not agreed," Mr. Milosevic shot back, according to an American official familiar with the conversation. "You call Holbrooke. He'll tell you what we

"No, I won't do that," replied General Clark, a veteran of hours of negotiations with Mr. Milosevic in Dayton. The general walked to a map to point out the locations
of the brigades and battalions he wanted removed.

"We have no extra forces," Mr. Milosevic said. "NATO must do what it must do."

And then General Clark moved bluntly to the alliance's bottom line.

"Mr. President, get real," General Clark replied. "You don't really want to be bombed by NATO."

The Standoff
Deal With Milosevic Is Quickly Unhinged

The October agreement quickly fell apart, and Western officials now acknowledge that the Serbs' preparations for a purge of Kosovo were evident in what they did
and what they said.

According to NATO officials, the Serbs began infiltrating reinforcements and equipment in violation of the deal. Serbian officers bluntly told General Clark in
October that they were just two weeks away from eliminating the Kosovo Liberation Army.

In January, the commander of the main military unit in Kosovo, Lieut. Gen. Dusan S. Smardzic, told local reporters that they could look forward to a "hot spring" in
which the problems in the province would finally be resolved.

The Kosovo Albanian rebels were pushing ahead with their own war aims. Sensing that the deal essentially placed the world's most powerful military alliance on their
side -- despite NATO's continued assurances that it did not want to become the guerrilla army's "air force" -- the rebels quickly reclaimed territory abandoned by
the Serbian forces and mounted a continuous series of small-scale attacks. American intelligence officials warned Congress that the rebels were buying weapons,
improving their training and becoming a more formidable force.

The unarmed observers, caught in the middle, could do little. William S. Walker, the American diplomat who headed the observer group, was threatened at one
point by a belligerent drunken Serb wielding a gun and a hand grenade. Mr. Walker pleaded privately with old friends at the State Department for some security.
The State Department was sympathetic but was struggling to cope with the aftermath of the embassy bombings.

American intelligence analysts struggled to read Mr. Milosevic's intentions. Was he playing for time or preparing for war? Were the troop movements in October a
prelude to a major offensive in which the population would be displaced so that the Serbs could more easily root out the Albanian guerrillas?

"The October agreement," read a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate dated November 1998, "indicates Milosevic is susceptible to outside pressure." The
estimate is a lengthy formal report drafted by the C.I.A. and vetted by all Government intelligence agencies.

It suggested that Mr. Milosevic "could accept a number of outcomes from autonomy to provisional status, with the final resolution to be determined, as long as he
remained the undisputed leader in Belgrade."

Mr. Milosevic, this assessment added, would only accept "new status" for Kosovo "if he thinks he is in danger because the West is threatening to use sustained and
decisive military power against his forces."

About the same time, NATO intelligence detected signs of a Serbian military buildup around Kosovo. Western intelligence officials, particularly the Germans,
believed that these troops could form the backbone of a military operation to push hundreds of thousands of Albanians out of Kosovo.

Its code name was Potkova -- in Serbian, Horseshoe.

American officials agree that Jan. 16 of this year was a turning point. On that day, the bodies of at least 45 peasant farmers and their children were found on hillsides
and courtyards in the village of Racak.

Most had been shot at close range in the head or neck with a single bullet, according to American officials. Some had been mutilated.

Witnesses said a small group of hooded men dressed in black and wearing gloves had carried out the killings. Mr. Walker arrived on the scene within hours, and
accused the Serbian security forces of committing "a crime very much against humanity."

The Serbian Government declared him persona non grata and fiercely protested its innocence. The killings galvanized public opinion in the United States and Europe.

Three days after the bodies were discovered, Ms. Albright presented her new plan at a White House meeting.

It again threatened bombing if Mr. Milosevic did not go along with the West. But, for the first time, it demanded that he accept NATO troops in his own country to
enforce a deal under which he would withdraw almost all his security forces and grant Kosovo broad autonomy.

Until then, the goal had been to stick to an agreement that had come to be known as "October plus" -- the accord reached by Mr. Holbrooke plus some sort of
protection for the observers. Mr. Berger was skeptical of going beyond that.

Mr. Cohen and Gen. Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had even greater reservations. They had wanted at all costs to avoid a troop presence that
would require Americans.

But in the end the advisers embraced Ms. Albright's approach and sent it to the President, who accepted it.

Two days later, President Clinton was on the phone to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain describing the new approach.

The two leaders agreed that there were two options: to initiate an immediate bombing campaign in reprisal for Racak, or to fashion a diplomatic solution that included
ground troops as peacekeepers in Kosovo, according to a White House aide who listened in on the conversation.

"Blair said that ground troops could not be used to fight a war, but only as part of a political strategy," the official said. "The President said, 'I completely agree with
you on that. If we sent in a ground force without some sort of agreement beforehand, sooner or later they're sitting ducks for either side who is willing to provoke
something.' "

Mr. Clinton said he would instruct his aides to try to bring Mr. Milosevic and the Kosovo Albanians to the bargaining table. "I will try to get Congress to go along
with me," he promised Mr. Blair.

Meanwhile, General Clark and General Naumann were confronting Mr. Milosevic.

The two generals refused food and drink. This was to be a serious negotiating session in which they told Mr. Milosevic he was violating the October agreement.

"We figured we'd starve him out," General Clark told colleagues afterward.

Mr. Milosevic was, as General Clark later told reporters, "determined to go his own way."

His face red, his voice cracking, the Serbian leader described the Racak incident as provocation.

"This was not a massacre," Mr. Milosevic insisted, according to a NATO official familiar with the meeting. "It was staged. These people were terrorists. They do
these things to people."

Mr. Clark warned that NATO is "going to start telling me to move aircraft" if Serbia did not live up to its agreement.

"You are a war criminal to be threatening Serbia," Mr. Milosevic replied.

Unquestionably, the meeting had gone badly. But General Clark, perhaps because he had lived through the stormy Dayton peace talks, reported to his superiors that
he still saw some flexibility.

Two days after General Clark's meeting, two State Department veterans of the Dayton talks, James Pardew and Christopher Hill, delivered a similar message to the
Yugoslav President.

This time Mr. Milosevic said that the killings had resulted from a firefight between rebels and the Serbian security forces.

The rebels, he continued, rearranged the bodies and dressed them to make them look like peasants and farmers, shooting the bodies through the heads and necks to
make the incident look like a massacre.

Mr. Milosevic's behavior raised a crucial question for Western officials: What were his intentions? Were the troop movements into Kosovo saber-rattling, or
preparations for war?

American intelligence agencies governmentwide were utterly divided on how to read the Serbian leader, classified reports show.

"Confronted with a take-it-or-leave-it deal, Milosevic may opt to risk a NATO bombing campaign rather than surrender control over Kosovo," read one late
January report, according to a Government official. "He may assume he can absorb a limited attack and the allies will not support a long campaign."

A week later the prediction was the opposite. "Milosevic will seek to give just enough to avoid NATO bombing."

The day the bombing began, March 24, an intelligence report said Mr. Milosevic "would interrupt the offensive and sign the peace plan if he suffers or expects to
suffer substantial damage to his armed forces and national level infrastructure from a bombing campaign."

Two days later, the analysts had changed their minds. "Air attacks," they wrote, "will not suffice to shake Milosevic's confidence."

In addition, while it was widely expected that NATO bombing would prompt retaliation against the Kosovo Albanians, officials said there had been no predictions
that Mr. Milosevic would try to empty the province of them, as he has done.

After the Racak killings in January, some American officials favored air strikes. But there remained the delicate matter of NATO unity.

On Jan. 28, the NATO allies warned that they were ready to use force immediately, and Britain and France said they were prepared to send in ground troops to
enforce a peace settlement. Two days later, after Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, said that the threat of force was justified to get the Serbs to the
bargaining table, the allies decided they had justification enough under international law to authorize air strikes against Yugoslavia if it did not agree to negotiate a

To try to strike that deal, the Europeans wanted a conference that would be their equivalent of Dayton, Ms. Albright said in an interview on Friday.

The Negotiations
Talks at a Castle Set Stage for War

But the gathering at Rambouillet, a former royal hunting lodge near Paris, was no Dayton.

The Americans approached the negotiations hoping to impose a solution on the Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians, but that attempt quickly broke down. Mr.
Milosevic, who was a central figure at Dayton, did not even attend the meetings. The Albanians were balky, too, refusing to accept a three-year autonomy deal
offered by NATO because it carried no guarantee of eventual independence.

If Dayton was a diplomatic triumph for the Clinton Administration and Mr. Holbrooke, Rambouillet was a debacle for Secretary Albright. She told friends it was one
of the worst experiences of her career.

With the two-week deadline set for the talks almost expired, Ms. Albright went to Rambouillet and implored the Albanians to sign on to the deal. Ms. Albright failed
to convince the hard-liners, the representatives of the Kosovo Liberation Army, who insisted on inserting language that held out promise of a referendum on
independence after the three years of autonomy. But they also insisted that they needed a two-week pause to sell even that deal to their supporters.

That set the stage for the ultimate failure of diplomacy. By refusing to sign the deal, the Kosovo Albanians had taken the pressure off the Serbs, leaving NATO with
no reason to order air strikes at that point. "If this fails because both sides say 'No,' there will be no bombing of Serbia," Ms. Albright said on Feb. 21, as the
Rambouillet talks wound down.

Mr. Milosevic, for his part, concluded that there was not enough incentive for him to deal. While Ms. Albright had inserted language to satisfy the Albanian rebels,
apparently none of the parties were negotiating any changes that the Serbs might have sought -- particularly changes related to the deployment of NATO ground
troops. Two days after Rambouillet ended, said the European Union envoy to the talks, Wolfgang Petritsch, the Yugoslav President decided that he was not going to
accept NATO troops -- and mustered his own forces and propaganda to prepare for the military showdown.

The standoff over Kosovo was growing more dire as President Clinton's political fortunes were rising and as the crisis drew more of his focus and energy. On Feb.
12, he was acquitted by the Senate. Only a few days later, on a trip to Mexico with Senator Biden, the President wanted to talk about the Kosovo crisis.

"All the way down on the plane I was reading a book about the Balkans and he saw me reading it," Mr. Biden recalled in an interview.

The book was "History of the Balkans," by Barbara Jelavich (Cambridge University Press). "And you know how he is," Mr. Biden added. "He asked me to give it
to him to read. And I said, 'No, get your own copy.'

And I'll lay odds that he eventually got it and read it."

President Clinton believed war could still be averted, though he was prepared to undertake a short burst of bombings, if necessary.

In a meeting with Italy's new Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema, in the Oval Office on March 5, Mr. Clinton said Mr. Milosevic had "accepted almost everything,"
according to Italian officials in Europe.

Mr. D'Alema, a rough-around-the-edges former Communist, was skeptical. He asked the President what the plan was if there was no deal and NATO air strikes
failed to subdue the Serbian leader. The result, Mr. D'Alema said, would be 300,000 to 400,000 refugees passing into Albania and crossing the Adriatic into Italy.

"What will happen then?" Mr. D'Alema wanted to know, according to Italian officials.

Mr. Clinton looked to Mr. Berger for guidance. NATO will keep bombing, Mr. Berger replied.

After Rambouillet fell apart, a followup conference was called in Paris three weeks later. While the world waited, Mr. Milosevic continued to build up his forces in
and around Kosovo.

A defining moment came on March 18 at the International Conference Center on the Avenue Kleber in Paris. To polite applause, four ethnic Albanian delegates
signed the peace plan that would give their people broad autonomy for a three-year interim period. The Serbs did not sign. That paved the way to air strikes.

Even though the United States and its NATO allies were now committed to war, three European Foreign Ministers -- Robin Cook of Britain, Hubert Vedrine of
France and Joschka Fischer of Germany -- began murmuring about making a final appeal to Mr. Milosevic in Belgrade. Ms. Albright persuaded them to allow Mr.
Holbrooke to go instead. But even as Mr. Holbrooke was en route to Belgrade, the situation grew more hopeless.

"The racial hatred was unleashed," said one senior Administration official. "Albanians began to kill Serbs; Serbs were shooting up villages."

Mr. Holbrooke has described his last meeting with Mr. Milosevic in Belgrade's Beli Dvor -- White House -- on March 22 as "unreal." Mr. Milosevic accused the
Americans of "sitting at the Albanian side of the table" at Rambouillet.

He insisted that there was no war in Kosovo, just a few terrorists who needed to be rooted out once and for all. Mr. Holbrooke later described parts of his
conversation with Mr. Milosevic. "I said to him, 'Look, are you absolutely clear in your own mind what will happen when I get up and walk out of this palace that
we're now sitting in?' "

"And he said, 'You're going to bomb us.' "

"And I said, 'That's right.' "

In the end it was Mr. Milosevic who was left to decide whether his country and NATO would go to war. "It was Milosevic who deliberately and consciously chose
to trigger the bombing of his own country," Mr. Holbrooke said.

Ms. Albright said that setting up a deal signed by only one side was a crucial step forward. "Signing Rambouillet was crucial in getting the Europeans two things." she
said. "Getting them to agree to the use of force and getting the Albanians on the side of this kind of a settlement."

The Serbs had already begun their offensive, she added, and if the signing had not been forced at that time, "we would be negotiating while they were carrying out
their 'village a day keeps NATO away.' "

At 12:30 on the morning of March 25, hours after the first bombs fell, the President was wide awake. He had called his key counterparts in NATO and monitored
the beginning of the air war that day. His foreign policy team had gone home and there was nothing left to do.

But the President apparently needed to assure and be reassured. So he called his Secretary of State and woke her up.

The President said, "We're doing the right thing here," Ms. Albright recalled. "We've got a long way to go. This is not going to be over quickly and we're all in this. I
feel we've explored every option, that we're doing the right thing."

The Secretary said she replied: "I feel the same way. Nobody should ever think that we had gone into this without our eyes wide open."