Another 'Victorious' Serb Retreat

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BELGRADE: NATO was so scared of Serbia that it didn't dare attack... Implausible as the triumphalist claims of President Slobodan Milosevic's administration may sound to the rest of us, he has an easier time making his spin stick at home -- by silencing media outlets that question the official version. Early on Wednesday, police closed the offices of two dailies that had written about the likely consequences of NATO attacks, citing them for the Orwellian offense of "defeatism."

"Milosevic is presenting himself as the victorious peacemaker who saved Serbia from attack, and is closing down anyone who offers a different opinion," says TIME reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "Whenever he makes concessions abroad, those are accompanied by a crackdown at home." It may be, however, that the Serb president's political survival depends on it. Milosevic built his power a decade ago on a wave of Serbian nationalism, and stripping Kosovo of its autonomy was the centerpiece of his early crusade. On Monday, Milosevic effectively agreed to restore that autonomy. So it may be some time before Serbia's media is allowed to comment freely on the wardrobe of its emperor.