Clintons Work to Keep Refugees in Spotlight

  • Share
  • Read Later
It's the refugees, stupid. As NATO planes conducted their heaviest bombing yet on Thursday night, the alliance's political leaders were hard at work shoring up flagging public support for the campaign. President Clinton again compared Slobodan Milosevic's campaign in Kosovo with the Holocaust, and the First Lady visited refugees in Macedonia Friday and likened their plight to that of the characters in "Schindler's List" and "Sophie's Choice." Meanwhile, Germany's Green party, the junior partner in Chancellor Schroeder's coalition government, called for a temporary halt to bombing to give diplomacy a chance. "The administration is emphasizing the plight of the refugees in order to stop an ebb in public support for the bombing," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "The public isn't opposed to the bombing as long as we aren't taking casualties, but they won't let it go on forever."

Intensified bombing inevitably brings intensified "collateral damage," and NATO Friday was investigating Serb reports that 50 refugee civilians were killed and as many wounded after the alliance dropped eight cluster bombs on a village near the Kosovo city of Prizren. Images of civilian casualties function as a kind of counterweight to the refugees' tales of trauma, adding to the pressure for a diplomatic solution. Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin heads back to Belgrade next week, this time accompanied by Finland's president, Martti Ahtisaari, who is reportedly acting as an envoy for the Western powers. With talks about talks continuing, the Serbs had better brace for at least several more days of bombardment.

Discuss the issues >>