How NATO Stumbles Bolster Milosevic

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In the end, Slobodan Milosevic’s secret weapon may be NATO. Opposition leader Zoran Djindjic vowed Thursday to keep up daily anti-Milosevic demonstrations despite Wednesday night’s violent police crackdown. But even if the fractured opposition does manage to overcome its differences, the fact that NATO appears unable or unwilling to stop terror attacks on the territory’s remaining Serb population creates fertile ground for Milosevic. "Kosovar Serbs are frightened because nobody’s protecting them from these systematic, well-organized attacks and the culprits are never caught," says TIME Central Europe bureau reporter Dejan Anastasijevic. "The alliance lacks a strategy," he adds, "and it’s fast heading for a situation where its choices are either to accept partition of Kosovo or to accept the ethnic cleansing of Serbs."

On Monday three Serbs were killed by a rocket grenade attack on a marketplace in Kosovo Polje. "That unhappy scenario plays right into Milosevic’s hands," says Anastasijevic. "All he needs to do is send a few tanks to Kosovo and attack NATO forces. That would restart air strikes and put an end to any challenge. So his message to Serbs is, be good or I’ll restart the war." Four months into the peacekeeping mission, NATO appears to have lost its way politically.