Stick to your guns

The inexorable press to begin bombing in Yugoslavia had an air of fateful necessity. That is tragedy in the classic sense. It began in 1989 with the willful arrogance of Slobodan Milosevic, who is now pitting his own political survival against the lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo along with his own people, the Serbs, who are caught up in the fighting.

Will Milosevic yield to the bombing after a decent interval of resistance? Many observers have speculated that though he could not negotiate Kosovo away in a peace treaty, there would be no dishonor-or political fallout-in having lost it to superior military power. Having never "agreed" to Kosovo’s loss, Serbia could then retrieve or reconquer it at some point in the future, or at least dream about doing so. And Milosevic could appear the national hero.

It is a tidy scenario, but as the days of bombing have ground on and as the pace of ethnic cleansing has increased in Kosovo, that script has come to seem improbable. What if Milosevic is in for the long haul?

Then on the other side, there is NATO. It is joined, for the moment, in a precarious unanimity over its chosen course of action: Bombing the Serbs into compliance with the conditions set down at Rambouillet. The heart of that agreement, a three-year period of autonomy for Kosovo within the confines of Yugoslavia to be followed by a referendum, is...

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