Sending clear messages

Clinton in Europe: Bombing should stop when Kosovars can return home in peace and security.

May 09, 1999

PRESIDENT Clinton's two-day trip to visit troops and allies in Europe restored the appearance of resolve to U.S. policy that an irresponsible House of Representatives had dissipated April 28. The House vote for funds on Thursday corrected an earlier image of a divided Washington, while still playing party games for the pork barrel.

Meanwhile, the Group of Eight foreign ministers meeting in Bonn brought Russia into a large measure of agreement to NATO's demands. It is not total acquiescence but does strengthen Russia's role as the channel of communication to Serbia's dictator Slobodan Milosevic. He can no longer pretend that Russia will make NATO back down and allow the genocide of Albanian Kosovars to continue.

Mr. Clinton acted as a responsible commander-in-chief, bringing support and appreciation to Americans in uniform who are making sacrifices for their country and need to know why. He made the mission clear to friend and foe.

President Milosevic's release of three U.S. soldiers and the Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova were distractions rather than concessions. Russian President Boris Yeltsin and his emissary Victor Chernomyrdin have signed on to the need for ethnic Albanian Kosovars to return to their homeland in safety. That's what this is about.

The refugees who found haven at Fort Dix, N.J., should be absorbed temporarily into the life of willing communities. But, like hundreds of thousands crammed into camps in Macedonia and Albania, they want to go home.

Mr. Milosevic appears willing that his country withstand bombing until the depopulation of Kosovo is a fait accompli. Presumably he would agree that peace-keepers enforce what he had achieved through terror. He must be disabused of the fantasy that this is an option. It is now the task of Mr. Chernomyrdin to disabuse him.

While the horrors of NATO bombing and Serbian genocide go on, the diplomacy surrounding the war begins to take on the look of an endgame. Grounds for optimism exist that the end is nearer.

Pub Date: 5/09/99

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