NATO – Lessons Learned from Kosovo

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NATO – Lessons Learned from Kosovo

23rd March 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

23 years ago, NATO began a bombing campaign in the former Yugoslavia. The campaign was trigger by the outbreak of violence in Kosovo – with NATO aiming to force Serbian President Milošević to end his violent ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army. On 10th June 1999, after 78 days of bombing, the Kumanovo Agreement was signed, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 was adopted, which forced the withdrawals of Yugoslav military from Kosovo.

However, the bombing campaign and creation of Kosovo created issues that remain to this day. Serbia (among nearly 100 other states) has not recognised Kosovo’s independence and continues to formally deny Kosovo its right to exist. On the Kosovar side of the border, gang violence remains endemic. Notably, Oliver Ivanović, a Kosovar Serb politician, was brutally killed in 2018, and the political background of this assassination remains unsolved.

Analysing NATO’s intervention in Kosovo is crucial – not only for the peace and stability of the Western Balkans – but also because of what it tells us about NATO’s potential role and the challenges in resolving other crises in the post-Cold war world.

The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to gather a world expert panel to reflect on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo and how lessons learned from this conflict can be applied to other contexts.



Richard Caplan is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and an Official Fellow of Linacre College. Professor Caplan’s principal research interests are concerned with international organisations and international security, with a particular focus on peacekeeping and ‘post-conflict’ peace- and state-building. He is the author and editor of several books, including Europe’s New Nationalism: States and Minorities in Conflict (Oxford University Press), International Governance of War-torn Territories: Rule and Reconstruction (Oxford University Press), Europe and the Recognition of New States in Yugoslavia (Cambridge University Press), Exit Strategies and State Building (Oxford University Press), and most recently Measuring Peace: Principles, Practices, and Politics (Oxford University Press).

Professor Caplan has been a Specialist-Advisor to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs in the UK House of Commons (including in support of its 2000 inquiry into Kosovo); a Research Associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Editor of World Policy Journal, and New York Director of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). He has also served as a consultant to the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Fragile States.

Professor Caplan is Principal Investigator of the ESRC-funded project ‘After Exit: Assessing the Consequences of United Nations Peacekeeping Withdrawal’, which is investigating conditions on the ground in countries that have played host to large-scale UN peacekeeping operations in the five-year period following the closure of these operations: He is also a Co-Investigator and lead researcher of the Oxford Martin School-funded programme on ‘Transboundary Resource Management’, which is exploring the scope for cross-border co-operation on natural resource management in the eastern Nile River Basin and the lower Jordan River Basin, where growing pressures on water and energy threaten regional destabilization:

Professor Caplan holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of London, an MPhil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge, and a BA in the History of Social and Political Thought from McGill University. He has been a visiting professor/research fellow at Princeton University, Sciences Po, the Central European University (CEU), the University of Konstanz, and the European University Institute (EUI).



Wesley K. Clark is a businessman, educator, writer and commentator who serves as Chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic consulting firm. Clark retired as a four star general after 38 years in the United States Army, having served in his last assignments as Commander of US Southern Command and then as Commander of US European Command/ Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. He graduated first in his class at West Point and completed degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University (B.A. and M.A.) as a Rhodes scholar. He worked with Ambassador Richard Holbrooke in the Dayton Peace Process, where he helped write and negotiate significant portions of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement. In his final assignment as Supreme Allied Commander Europe he led NATO forces to victory in Operation Allied Force, a 78-day air campaign, backed by ground invasion planning and a diplomatic process, saving 1.5 million Albanians from ethnic cleansing. His awards include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Defense Distinguished Service Medal (five awards), Silver star, bronze star, and purple heart. In 2019, Clark founded Renew America Together, a non-profit organization designed to promote and achieve greater common ground in America by reducing partisan division and gridlock.



Helena Ivanov is a PhD Candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science and an Associate Fellow at The Henry Jackson Society. Her research focuses on the relationship between propaganda and violence against civilians. In her thesis, Helena examined the role propaganda played during the Yugoslav Wars and produced a model for studying propaganda which details the key phases, functions, discourses, and techniques of propaganda (the model itself is applicable to other contexts). Additionally, Helena also served as a Manager at the Centre for International Studies at the LSE.



Jamie Shea CMG is a Visiting Professor of Strategy and Security at Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter, United Kingdom and member of the Group of Strategic Advisors of the NATO Special Operations Forces Command at SHAPE in Belgium. Jamie Shea is also the President of the Center for War Studies at the University of Southern Denmark and serves on the Board of the Danish Defence College, Copenhagen. Prior to joining the University of Exeter, Jamie Shea was an international public servant and a member of the International Staff of NATO for 38 years.

Jamie Shea is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics, where he teaches a course on crisis management and political communication.  Amongst his many associations and memberships, Jamie Shea is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and he is currently a Senior Advisor at the European Policy Centre and a Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe.  These are two of the most active and influential policy think tanks in Brussels.



Dr Alan Mendoza is a Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, Britain’s leading thinktank fighting for the principles and alliances which keep societies free. He directs strategy for the organisation as well as acting as its main public face in mediums as diverse as the BBC, Sky, CNBC, Al-Jazeera. Bloomberg, LBC and TalkRadio. On the print side, Alan is a columnist for City AM, London’s business newspaper, and has contributed to The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sun and a host of international newspapers and magazines.

Having obtained a B.A. (Hons.) and M.Phil in history at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, Alan completed a Ph.D. at the same institution. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and was the Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservative Party in the Brent Central Constituency for the 2015 General Election. He is also a Trustee of the President Reagan Memorial Fund Trust.





On the 23rd March, Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, Helena Ivanov, Associate Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, General Wesley Clark, Chairman and CEO of Wesley K. Clark & Associates, Richard Caplan, Professor of International Relations at Oxford University, Jamie Shea, Visiting Professor of Strategy and Security at the University of Exeter, reflect on NATO’s intervention in Kosovo and what can be learnt from the war.

Dr Mendoza started the presentation by introducing the topic of discussion and the speakers. General Clark gave a talk on his role in the Kosovo war, his attempts to resolve the conflict and how Serbian obstruction led to the NATO intervention. He had three main lessons from the conflict which were, the need to use force, the necessity in knowing the end state of a conflict and the need to have escalation dominance. Professor Caplan discussed the context behind NATO’s intervention and how it was motivated by past failures in Bosnia while also noting Russia supported condemning Serbia’s action in Kosovo. He also argued that Kosovar independence could have been handled better. Professor Shea also commented on the influence the war in Bosnia had on how NATO approached Kosovo and argued that that more should have been done to gain support in the UN for the intervention. He also argued for the need to give President Putin an offramp for de-escalation in Ukraine. Helena Ivanov argued that the importance of reconciliation and reconstruction is the main lesson to be learnt from the intervention as political violence and economic strife are still endemic in Kosovo.

The event closed with a series of questions, on what are the lessons of leadership from Kosovo, what is NATO’s role in Europe, is it even relevant comparing it to the situation in Ukraine, whether indicting Putin for war crimes could weaken him and why is NATO not doing more in Ukraine.




23rd March 2022
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm


United Kingdom


Professor Richard Caplan, General Wesley K. Clark, Helena Ivanov, Professor Jamie Shea CMG


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