The figures are grim: Only 20,000 to 25,000 Serbs now remain in Kosovo out of an estimated population of 180,000 a year ago. The rest have fled, or been killed in violent reprisals. Attacks occur daily against Serbs or peacekeepers. Sunday's example: A German NATO soldier was injured when three gunmen fired on his unit patrolling southwestern Kosovo. Although the excuse for revenge is undeniably strong ("Serbs You Right," as one recent newspaper headline put it), ethnic cleansing isn't any prettier, or more right, when itís the Serbs on the short end of the stick. But for a NATO short on political resolve to take any further drastic action, stopping this might be even harder than it was the last time around.
With nearly a month gone since Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers ignored a deadline to turn in a large portion of their guns, NATO officials are stepping up raids on weapons caches in an effort to force them to comply. The reason for the KLA's recalcitrance: Many in the movement suspect that, despite assurances in the June disarmament agreement that they would at least be considered for posts, NATO and U.N. authorities are attempting to freeze them out of the new government. NATO has its reasons. There is strong evidence that ethnic cleansing of the provinceís remaining Serbs and the violence against peacekeepers is taking place with at least the tacit support of the KLA. And thatís a problem for NATO, which insists on a multiethnic Kosovo, a scenario that is looking increasingly unlikely.