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According to a secret White House memorandum circulating in Washington last week, a copy of which was obtained by TIME, Holbrooke's plan includes a number of specific proposals. The No. 1 problem is the map, the division of which is predicated on the principle, established last July by the Contact Group, that Bosnia will technically remain one nation but will be internally divided, with 49% of the land going to the Bosnian Serbs and 51% going to the Croat-Muslim federation. While it now appears that all parties, including the Bosnian Serbs, have agreed to the proportions, Holbrooke said that everyone has a different version of which land goes to whom.
The main sticking points include the fate of Gorazde, the remaining enclave that the Bosnian government holds in the east. It is the "safe area" that the London meeting vowed in particular to protect, but it would be isolated in Serb territory. Another potential stumbling block concerns partitioning Sarajevo to allow the Serbs to control a part of the capital. The Bosnian Serbs made this a condition of their turning over negotiating authority to Milosevic, but the Bosnian government rules it out.
Croatia has reportedly backed the overall deal, but now that the Bosnian Serbs'have been hurt militarily, Bosnia's Muslims may be less willing to accept a plan that calls for de facto partition of their country. Might this not be the time to fight on and regain lost ground? "They're going to have to swallow hard to sign up to the deal," says a Pentagon official. As encouragement, the White House wants to provide American economic incentives for the region that could total as much as $1 billion over three years, $500 million of which may be earmarked exclusively for the Bosnian Muslims.
There is also another deal--the one between Milosevic and the U.N.What does he get for his trouble? As outlined in the secret memo, once the Serb delegation signs a Bosnian peace agreement, the U.N. economic sanctions would be "suspended." As long as Belgrade keeps the Bosnian Serbs on track toward a peace settlement, the suspension of sanctions would be renewed every 60 days by a U.N. Security Council vote. When the peace agreement is finally implemented, Milosevic would then get a "complete lifting" of the sanctions.
There will be many, many obstacles, but let's imagine all parties agree to a peace plan. America would then have avoided its nightmare scenario--sending in 25,000 soldiers to help U.N. forces withdraw from Bosnia while the war is on. That's great, but there is a catch. The Clinton Administration has also pledged that if a peace accord is signed, the U.S. will send 25,000 troops to Bosnia to help enforce it. No doubt that is a safer mission than covering a U.N. retreat. Still, at his office in Naples, U.S. Admiral Leighton Smith, who is in charge of nato's Southern Command, has two documents, each of which is two inches thick and marked "nato Confidential." One outlines the American plans for the U.N. withdrawal; the other is the U.S. plan for enforcing the peace agreement. They are virtually the same.
--Reported by Greg Burke on board the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, Massimo Calabresi/ Belgrade, Bruce van Voorst/ Bonn and Mark Thompson and Douglas Waller/ Washington