| MILOSEVIC MEETS HIS GOALS
Yugoslav President May Be
Getting What He Wants
Slobodan Milosevic has been able to use
the NATO airstrike campaign to his
advantage, igniting Serbian nationalism.
W A S H I N G T O N — NATO claims its ferocious storm of missiles and
bombs will eventually halt Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s ability
to wage war — and maybe even force him back to the bargaining table.
But so far, more than a week of bombing has done little to deter the
defiant Milosevic from speeding down a road of terror and carnage. If anything,
Milosevic now wields greater control over his nation and the future of
Kosovo than ever before during his 12-year reign.
Under his direction, Serbian troops are driving ethnic Albanians from
the southern province of Kosovo and into neighboring countries. Ethnic
Albanian moderate leaders have been shot or have disappeared. There are
even unconfirmed reports that Milosevic has established a concentration
camp of 20,000, where prisoners may be used as “human shields” to protect
Milosevic Takes Control of Kosovo
As reports of atrocities pour in, NATO leaders remain strong in their
resolve to curb Milosevic’s ability to wage war. But even the strongest
supporters of the bombing campaign have been surprised by the success of
Milosevic’s response to the situation.
Two years ago, he was a ruler who was losing popularity. Then, he launched
a new campaign of ethnic war in Kosovo. And the NATO attacks have only
tightened his grip on Yugoslavia and its dominant republic, Serbia.
“Milosevic has taken control,” says Lani Kass, a professor of military
strategy at the National War College in Washington. “He’s ignited Serb
Milosevic has found his greatest strength in NATO’s weakness, by lashing
out where allied forces have little control — on the ground in Kosovo.
This strategy serves two of Milosevic’s goals, Kass says: Driving ethnic
Albanians out of Yugoslavia and destabilizing the region.
“He changed the terms of engagement” by burdening poor nations like
Albania and Macedonia with hundreds of thousands of penniless refugees.
“So Milosevic has decided to help those countries collapse,” concludes
Refugees May Never Return
The refugees now face a strong possibility of never returning to Kosovo,
even if a peace agreement is reached, because many will find it impossible
to prove their Yugoslav citizenship.
Ethnic Albanians being run out of Kosovo have been stripped of all identification
papers by Yugoslav forces that have looted their other possessions and
torched their homes. License plates have been stolen from vehicles transporting
the refugees. It is the same strategy the Serbs used during the Bosnian
war, which left hundreds of thousands of people without a country to this
Milosevic’s goal of “ethnic cleansing” seems well on its way to completion,
but the policy may exact a heavy price if NATO forces ultimately prevail.
Where once the bombing was said to be a means to achieve autonomy for Kosovo
as a province within the Yugoslav federation, allies are now signaling
that Milosevic may end up losing Kosovo completely.
“Keeping Kosovo as part of Serbia is what Milosevic needs the most.
And he is putting that by his actions at risk both from further radicalization
of the population there and the [loss of] international support,” White
House spokesman Joe Lockhart said today.
If and when a peace deal is struck, that may be the biggest threat to
Milosevic — not only from those who seek to try the man for war crimes
— but from within his own country, warns Obad Kesic, an adviser to former
Yugoslav prime minister Milan Panic. Both now live in the United States.
“The war has empowered the Yugoslavian people and their military,” Kesic
says. “That’s dangerous for him. They may not want to live under his rule
when they discover their country has been thrown into economic collapse.”