By HDN staff
After several months of continuous bombing, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has finally said uncle and NATO forces are beginning their peacekeeping operation in Kosovo province.
Hundreds of thousands Kosovo-Albanian refugees will soon be free to return to their homes and, at least for the moment, Milosevic and his military machine have been neutralized.
But to many Americans, including us, it seems premature to strike up the victory band or pop any corks on champagne bottles.
Too many unanswered questions remain questions about how we should define victory in this small community of ancient hostilities; questions about whether Americans military might should ever have become involved in the internal struggles of an independent country; questions about the future of this troubled region, all still wait for an answer.
The most immediate question is: How long will NATO troops need to stay in Kosovo before true peace can be achieved?
It would appear that NATO has entered a bottomless pit of anger and hostility that existed long before the bombs began to fall and has only been exacerbated by the fighting. Suspected atrocities committed by Serb troops during their occupation of Kosovo and the expulsion of thousands of Kosovo-Albanians from their homes only served to fuel the fires of hostility.
To many Albanian refugees their homecoming will be bittersweet as they return to burned and looted homes with memories of lost loved ones to greet them. And lets not forget the new wave of Serb refugees currently fleeing north to escape probable Albanian reprisal.
Will there ever be a time when these two people can live in peace or have recent events tarnished forever all hope of reconciliation? Will a NATO military presence forever be necessary and how many lives might that cost?
And what of indicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic? Will he remain president of Yugoslavia despite the indictment and continue to ferment unrest for years to come?
It is also fair to ask what the future of the KLA might be in Kosovo. Will the KLA lay down its arms and embrace a NATO presence, or will military force be needed to disarm and restrain them from seeking vengeance?
The damage to Americas relationship with Russia is already being tested because of the war. Can America afford to jeopardize its budding, yet fragile, relationship with this former superpower? Can America smugly afford to rest on the assumption that because they need our money we have nothing to worry about?
What will Americas position be in future hot spots around the globe? How did the war affect our relations with China? Should America be a world policeman? Are we willing to pay the cost in money and in human life?
These are just a few of the questions keeping champagne corks in the bottles and the brass bands silent. Now we have to determine what we won and what we still have to win.