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It Can't Be a Quick Fix for Kosovo

U.S. policy: The goals must be rights for the Albanians and a diminishment of Slobodan Milosevic's power.

October 11, 1998|ROBERT DOLE and JEANE KIRKPATRICK | Robert Dole, the former Senate majority leader and 1996 presidential candidate, is now an attorney in Washington. Jeane Kirkpatrick was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan administration

NATO allies stand at a crossroads. What decisions are taken in the coming days will determine whether at long last Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will be confronted and compelled to end the destruction he has wrought on the Albanian majority province of Kosovo.

After months of inaction, NATO and the Clinton administration finally recognize that Milosevic must be stopped. No doubt, this recognition is months late--hundreds of thousands of Albanians have suffered the loss of their homes, livelihoods and loved ones. It may even be so late that Milosevic believes he has achieved his objectives.

Nevertheless, it is not too late to reach a fair and lasting agreement that provides for the security and political rights of Kosovo's Albanians. But a successful effort requires that NATO, the U.S. Congress and the American people stand together. The United States must pursue a policy that puts pressure on the Milosevic regime and not on the victim Albanians, and seeks a long-term sustainable solution and not a quick fix that kicks the problem down the road.

In order for the administration to reach a real solution, it must realize that Milosevic is the source of the problem in Kosovo, as he was in Bosnia and Croatia. His goals and methods are deplorable. His policies of ethnic cleansing are designed to preserve and extend his power, not to serve justice or promote peace and stability. Slobodan Milosevic is the reason there is war in Kosovo today.

Milosevic is smart, tough and utterly ruthless. Although the administration understands that Milosevic must be stopped, it may not yet appreciate what will be needed to stop him. Pinprick airstrikes by NATO will not suffice. Nor will an agreement that merely postpones a lasting resolution. The United States must avoid short-term solutions that delay genuine self-rule for ethnic Albanians and settle for allowing humanitarian aid groups to assist the tens of thousands of Albanians who have been forced from their homes. A "solution" must of course address the urgent humanitarian crisis, but not only that. Otherwise, it will serve only as a Band-Aid to cover a gaping wound. Moreover, such an agreement will give Milosevic a new lease on life while suppressing the political life of the 2 million Albanians in Kosovo.

The elements of a lasting agreement are quite clear and achievable when backed by a truly credible threat and/or use of NATO force. First, there must be a complete, verifiable and enforceable withdrawal of all Serb military, paramilitary and police forces from Kosovo. Second, there must be a stable cease-fire that includes armed Albanians. And, third, a political settlement must be reached that provides the equivalent status for Kosovo to that enjoyed by Serbia and Montenegro within the federal republic of Yugoslavia.

We should neither threaten nor use NATO force to achieve short-term goals. NATO force should be used to compel Milosevic to accept the terms of a lasting peace. An ultimatum to Milosevic to pull out military, paramilitary and police forces, halt attacks and let the Albanians run their own affairs within a federal Yugoslavia deserves to be backed by NATO force. If Milosevic fails to fully comply by a date certain, NATO cruise missile and airstrikes would be deployed against major Serbian military assets. In addition to compelling Milosevic's agreement to a lasting settlement, such strikes would reduce his ability to wage war within Yugoslavia and the region.

Achieving a lasting peace in Kosovo will not be easy. The United States and its allies must seek an approach that not only offers Kosovo's Albanians full political rights and civil liberties, but diminishes Milosevic's political power and Belgrade's military capabilities. Slobodan Milosevic does not deserve a second, third, fourth or fifth chance. His promises do not deserve to be believed. For a decade the Balkans have been subjected to Milosevic's brutal and aggressive ways. For a decade he has wreaked murder and mayhem in the area. His reign of terror must end.

We hope President Clinton makes the right choices necessary to forge the foundations of a stable and lasting peace in Kosovo. When he does so, we will support him and urge Congress to back his efforts.

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