NATO Plays Enforcer and Ambulance in Kosovo

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The price Slobodan Milosevic is paying for his Kosovo campaign is rising fast, but the tab NATO is picking up for his initial success is growing too. The Western alliance blasted targets all over Yugoslavia Sunday night, including Belgrade International Airport. It also moved Monday to approve the deployment of 24 U.S. Apache ground-attack helicopters, which would increase the tactical ability to stop Serb armored columns on the ground -- as well as the risk to U.S. pilots. But with hunger and disease mounting among the estimated 360,000 ethnic Albanians driven out by Milosevic, NATO's relief effort is coming to occupy as much prominence as its air strikes.

Aiding the refugees isn't as simple as it should be -- the Western alliance must cope with myriad complications. For instance: the Macedonian government's insistence on controlling relief efforts and closing its borders to some 65,000 refugees shivering in a muddy field just outside the gates, and debates over the planned airlift of some 100,000 refugees to NATO countries -- including 20,000 who'll be sent to U.S. territory, possibly Guam. Some European NATO members fear that dispersing the refugees seals the success of Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing." NATO launched its air campaign almost two weeks ago, hoping to prevent the Serbs from driving out the Kosovars. Now the alliance faces the far more complex challenge of reversing the expulsion of ethnic Albanians.

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