Bob Dole Flies a Kosovo Rescue Mission

Getting the ethnic Albanians behind the peace deal is the easy part. Milosevic still looks like a job for Dick Holbrooke

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Senator Bob Dole flew into the Balkans, Friday, as Washington's unlikely emissary to the Kosovar Albanians. The choice of envoy may have surprised most Americans, but not Balkan-watchers: "Dole is known as an advocate of U.S. intervention over Kosovo, and his positions have been supportive of the ethnic-Albanians," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi. "He carries some cachet with the ethnic-Albanians." Dole's mission is to persuade the ethnic-Albanian side to sign the peace deal presented at the failed Rambouillet peace conference, and that may not be as difficult as it seemed two weeks ago. "The ethnic-Albanians seem to be coming on board," says Calabresi. "The main obstacle had been local Kosovo Liberation Army commanders who would lose out personally in a deal that dismantles the KLA, but that no longer seems to be hindering the KLA from signing."

The hard part remains bringing aboard President Slobodan Milosevic, who accepts political autonomy for Kosovo but adamantly refuses to accept the NATO peacekeeping forces necessary to secure it. The record of the 1995 Bosnia peace deal and last year's Kosovo ceasefire suggest that bullying Milosevic into compliance is a job best left to U.N. ambassador-designate Richard Holbrooke.