America's chief diplomat during the Kosovo conflict offers that as an example of how to end the more than two-year-old civil war in Syria and the brutality of the Bashar Assad regime.
"Everything that has been said about the Middle East was once said about the Balkans," said Madeline Albright, who served as secretary of State during the Clinton administration, while speaking at the Aspen Institute on Wednesday. "Many of the factors that split Syria were on display less than two decades ago in Bosnia and Kosovo."
"There were moments then when the problems faced seemed unsolvable and the obstacles to progress too great," she said, adding it would be naive to think a solution for Syria and the Assad regime could arrive soon "or without pain."
Albright, who also served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 1993 to 1997, was instrumental in developing U.S. policy toward the former Yugoslavia as it dissolved among ethnic lines and sank into war in the 1990s.
In 1999 the U.S. and its allies conducted an extensive aerial bombing campaign that effectively ended the war there. President Barack Obama, however, and his administration are quick to separate this conflict from what they hope to do militarily in Syria.
"I would not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo," Obama said in a speech Tuesday night. "This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective: deterring the use of chemicals weapons, and degrading Assad's capabilities."
Obama also said during a the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia earlier in September that the international bombing campaign over Kosovo was unpopular at the time but the right thing to do.
Albright said Wednesday establishing a lasting peace in Syria begins with Congress acknowledging that Obama's threat of force is what prompted a Russian compromise to have the Assad regime surrender its weapons.
This should be followed by a strong mandate for weapons inspections to ensure that the regime has complied.
"There is no reason whatsoever to trust President Assad," Albright said, adding the choice she has offered other leaders who, as she says, have overstayed their legitimacy: "'You can leave office voluntarily and soon, or you can leave office involuntarily and soon.' Either way, you will not have a say in Syria's future."
The rank-and-file members of the Assad regime must be willing to share power if they are to survive, Albright says, and the Syrian opposition must demonstrate it is willing to include all of Syria's warring factions.
"Opposing Assad is not enough to guarantee international support. You must develop a degree of unity, sufficient to operate and negotiate effectively, and you must adhere to democratic and humanitarian norms," she said.
Spokesmen for the Syrian opposition movement told reporters Tuesday they would be willing to include all ethnic and cultural groups wedged into Syria's borders -- a daunting prospect given the Kurdish fighting in northeast Syria that is largely independent from the more than two-year-old civil war.
"War will not end with conquest, but in ceasefire and conciliation," Albright said. This war is hindering the progress of areas of concern in the Middle East, including ensuring Iran has a peaceful nuclear program, defeating al-Qaida and negotiating a settlement between Israel and Palestine.