What Would a US Response Look Like? Think 1999

US officials say NATO airstrikes on Kosovo could be a guide for Syria

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 24, 2013 12:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – A government backed by Russia is accused of killing its own civilians. That applies not only to the current situation in Syria but to the 1999 situation in Kosovo. And as the New York Times reports, top US officials are keeping Kosovo very much in mind as they weigh their options. President Obama would likely never get the approval of the UN Security Council for a military response because of Russia's veto power. When Bill Clinton was in the same boat in 1999, he turned to NATO and got its blessing for 78 days of airstrikes.

“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” a government official tells the Times. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.” Obama was meeting today with national security aides to determine next steps if the US concludes that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. (Assad in turn accused the rebels of doing the same today.) Meanwhile, the US Navy is keeping two destroyers positioned in the Mediterranean in case the green light is given for a cruise-missile attack, reports the Wall Street Journal.

In this photo taken on a government organized media tour, a Syrian army soldier walks on a street in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus Saturday.
In this photo taken on a government organized media tour, a Syrian army soldier walks on a street in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus Saturday.   (AP Photo)
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