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  • Roland Paris

Kosovo and the Metaphor War

Abstract: In the spring of 1999, American political leaders debated how to respond to the ongoing military and humanitarian crisis in the Kosovo region of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where armed Serbs under the control of then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic appeared to be conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign against the province’s predominantly Albanian population. Six months earlier in the fall of 1998, the Yugoslav army had forced members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an armed separatist group comprised of ethnic Albanians, into the remote mountains of Kosovo, along with thousands of civilians. With winter approaching and the civilians in danger of freezing, the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) threatened attacks against Serb forces unless civilians were allowed to return to their homes unmolested. Serbian leaders relented and drew back their forces, but in March 1999 they launched yet another military campaign in defiance of international warnings. Once again, Albanian Kosovars fled the assault, this time in even greater numbers; thousands of refugees crossed into neighboring countries, recounting stories of summary executions and forced expulsions by Serbian forces. NATO responded on 24 March 1999, after the failure of negotiations in Rambouillet, France, by bombing Serbian targets for eleven consecutive weeks until Yugoslav forces finally withdrew from the province in early June. NATO ground troops then entered Kosovo and began escorting the refugees back to their homes...

Reprinted in Philip Seib, ed., War and Conflict Communication: Critical Concepts (Routledge, 2010) Reprinted in Scott Titsworth, ed., Public Speaking (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

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