The world (most of it, anyway) has stood idly by as the breakup of Yugoslavia degenerated into some of the worst examples of organized genocide and atrocities since the Holocaust. The threat of international intercession has been raised so many times that it lacks any real credibility.
The Clinton administration has once again declared that the Serbs have crossed a line and the United States will not let them go unpunished. If that line seems familiar, it is because it was mentioned each time the Serbs committed yet another atrocity against their own citizens. If U.S. and NATO threats are to be believed, they must be carried out. Otherwise, NATO and American forces will be seen as nothing more than paper tigers.
The main challenge for both the United States and NATO is devising a plan to establish peace and stability in Kosovo. No one wants the Serbs to continue their ethnic cleansing program of attacking Kosovar civilians and destroying their villages. Yet neither does the West want Kosovo to become an independent nation. The result is the quagmire in which the West has found itself for the past several months. As Western leaders meet in conferences, more people continue to die in Kosovo, more people continue to flee their lands, more instability ensues.
Serbian strongman Slobodon Milosevic has repeatedly broken his promises. The result is thousands more refugees, continued suffering and a loss of respect for the United States and NATO. If the credibility of the United States and NATO is to be salvaged, threats of force must be carried out, otherwise a threat is nothing more than talk.
After World War II, the world declared that never again would it let the horrors against humanity repeat themselves. It is clear that was an empty promise. It is time the West come up with an effective plan for dealing with Kosovo and put it into place. That requires carrying out threats of force if necessary. If the West continues to sputter around without a clear vision or consensus, it will have permanently lost its credibility. It is time for the horrors of Kosovo to come to an end.