Holbrooke: Return to Serbia

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BELGRADE: Will President Slobodan Milosevic remember that it was Richard Holbrooke who authored the 1995 NATO bombing raids that forced the Serbs to negotiate a peace accord in Bosnia? NATO certainly hopes so. The Serb leader has largely ignored the Western ultimatum to end his offensive in Kosovo, and Holbrooke flies in to Belgrade today to warn of the consequences. "Right now Milosevic, and just about everyone else, believes that NATO lacks the political will to carry out air strikes," says TIME Central Europe bureau chief Massimo Calabresi.

But if Milosevic ignores Holbrooke's warning, bombing won't bring an easy solution to the crisis. NATO is demanding that he withdraw his troops and negotiate to restore Kosovo's autonomy within the Yugoslavian federation. But even in the unlikely event that he complies, Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority would keep on fighting for independence from Belgrade. So air strikes are simply a short-term strategy to stop the Serb campaign against civilians. "There's no hope of any progress unless Milosevic makes some concessions, and so far he has given away nothing at all," says Calabresi. "He is pushing the situation toward violent confrontation." Perhaps the sight of Holbrooke will jog his memory.