What superpower should I do
"You can see a hesitant American superpower"
Thielko semolina: In these days the Kosovo war from 1999 repeatedly serves as a foil, as a blueprint for a possible mission. At that time NATO saw rampant crimes against humanity in Kosovo, mostly committed by the Yugoslav army, dominated by Serbians. And then NATO struck, for eleven weeks until negotiations for peace and an autonomous Kosovo became possible. The air force of the Bundeswehr flew the attacks with them and in Germany red-green ruled. And the political federal manager of the Greens was Reinhard Bütikofer. Today he is a member of the European Parliament and a foreign policy specialist and is now on the phone with us. Good afternoon, Mr. Bütikofer!
Reinhard Bütikofer: I greet you, Mr. Grieß!
Semolina: Does the Kosovo war of 1999 serve as a model in this discussion?
Bütikofer: I would warn against drawing any hasty parallels. I think the differences are very, very big. The dispute over Kosovo and the genocidal politics of the then Serbian President Milosevic was about a discussion within Europe. This is a completely different area; NATO, as I remember, played a significantly different role at the time. I don't think that in the understandable search for a hold in a devilishly complicated and confusing situation, one now has to make do with historical parallels. I don't think there are any simple answers to this situation either. It also shows the length of the deliberation process, for example with the American President Obama, that it reflects the knowledge of the difficulty of not only taking a step that one believes is correct, but also being able to think about what because maybe after that and how to get out of the situation again. But I do not think - and in this respect I would perhaps draw a parallel - I do not believe that we should now stand up in a hurry and deal with major accusations against the United States if they actually say what we have heard, such behavior , such mass murderous behavior cannot go unanswered.
Reinhard Bütikofer: Member of the European Parliament of Bündnis90 / Die Grünen (Deutschlandradio / Bettina Straub)Semolina: Then as now, the international community was and is on a quest to justify and justify such a mission. At that time it was the humanitarian reasons, the word Auschwitz was also used. And how is it today, today we are looking for a similar reason. Perhaps the word Auschwitz is not used, but the word massacre is definitely used.
Bütikofer: Well, what happened was obviously a massacre, so the word will be used.
Semolina: Is that enough, Mr Bütikofer, as a moral justification to justify an operation, bypassing international law?
Bütikofer: Well, if we want to start discussing international law, then we have to discuss the fact that this regime in Syria has a binding obligation under international law not to use such chemical weapons. And then we also have to discuss the fact that a discussion has developed within the framework of the United Nations since the time of Kosovo and that international consequences have been drawn from it, which says that the principle of non-interference, standardized under international law, cannot go so far that we Citizens of a country in which a completely cynical regime is in power, left helplessly under all conditions to these rulers. That is the famous responsibility of the international community to protect, that is a discussion that has just emerged from the Kosovo experience.
Semolina: And in your opinion, this limit has now been exceeded, so that this principle now applies?
Bütikofer: Don't ask me, I don't know ... I know a lot less than any of these rods, which don't come to a simple conclusion either. I don't even know what the US might do. I assume that they will act militarily, that they will not do it alone, I also assume. But it is by no means clear, in my opinion, that the American president will order that attacks be carried out on the positions of the Syrian troops until Assad resigns or something. It is also possible that the Americans are trying to use certain actions to create maximum pressure that, so to speak, restores the red line that Assad has now crossed.
Semolina: Then as now, people were looking for facts to justify such a mission. In 1999, for example, there was the so-called Racak massacre, a place in Kosovo where it was later not at all clear who the dead were and who was supposed to have committed the massacre. But it played a very important role in the rhetoric back then. Do you have to live with that, Mr. Bütikofer, with your experience, would you say, from 1999, that you have to live with the fact that such operations are often simply justified incorrectly?
Bütikofer: Well, there is Clausewitz's famous word about the fog of war, and that goes with that too. But I think there is an important difference between then and now, at least as far as I can remember: At that time, this military intervention in Kosovo was supported by a lot more self-assurance on the part of the Western governments that it might be possible by intervening in this way to do well. This self-assurance, which was widely criticized at the time, this feeling that we know how to do it, and then we also know how to finish it properly, is not there at the moment. You see a hesitant American superpower wondering what to do. And the American president is not rushing there, he is the one who hesitates the most. I think that is something that you have to take note of. So in this situation to want to accuse the Americans, directly or indirectly, that they were looking more or less laboriously for some reason so that they could finally strike in Syria, I think little could be more wrong!
Semolina: Is one lesson from the Kosovo mission, Mr Bütikofer, also that such a mission is hardly possible without a subsequent deployment of ground troops? Because even then, NATO was present in Kosovo with up to 50,000 soldiers.
Bütikofer: I don't think at all that there are any automatisms here in the current situation. I think it is highly unlikely. You can almost never say never, but I think it is extremely unlikely that anyone could come up with the idea of sending ground troops there. I don't think we should speculate about that.
Semolina: Mr. Bütikofer, thank you very much for your assessments, for your opinions this afternoon on Deutschlandfunk! That was Reinhard Bütikofer, today a Green member of the European Parliament and at the time of the Kosovo war, the federal parliamentary manager. Thanks and goodbye!
Bütikofer: Thank you, goodbye!
Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandradio does not adopt the statements of its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.
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