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SERBS ARE UNLIKELY TO ENJOY FRUITS OF VICTORY OVER CROATS, MUSLIMS

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After two years of brutal fighting, unspeakable atrocities and ethnic cleansing bordering on genocide, Serbia basically has achieved its war aims in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With decisive help from the powerful Yugoslav Army, Serb militias have seized 30 percent of Croatia and 70 percent of Bosnia, and no counterforce is in sight that is capable of dislodging them.To the contrary, the United Nations and the European Community, in effect the pallbearers of Bosnia, are pressing the Muslim-led government to accept partition along ethnic lines.

Though the international mediators never say so out loud, partition means that the parts of Bosnia held by the Serbs and Croats will disappear into a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croatia.

And the scraps left to Muslim rule may just disappear.

Croatia has both lost and gained territory, but the Serbs have only gained. So they must be judged the only winners. The question is whether they will enjoy the fruits of their victory, and the answer is no.

Nationalist Croats are not reconciled to the loss of Krajina in the center of their state and Slavonia in the east.

Irredentist guerrilla warfare can be expected to start soon after a "settlement" and go on for a long time.

In Bosnia, about 150,000 residents have been killed and some 2 million displaced, most of them Muslims.

Bosnian Muslims used to be secular and much like their Slavic neighbors. Now they feel betrayed by Christian Europe, which failed to help them, and are likely to become radicalized.

This possibility is welcomed by Islamic militants in the Middle East, who are urging their co-religionists to launch a holy war.

Serbia itself has paid a terrible economic, diplomatic, political and moral price for what most of the world sees as naked aggression against Bosnia, recognized by the United Nations and the EC as a sovereign state - but not protected as one.

The United Nations has started to crank up its war-crimes machinery, and soon Serbian leaders, such as President Slobodan Milosevic, will be unable to travel abroad because of fear of arrest and trial before the tribunal.

Yugoslavia used to have the highest standard of living in Eastern Europe. Now the costs of war, U.N. sanctions, runaway inflation and shortages have wrecked Serbia's economy.

Half the work force is jobless. A dollar, which bought 300 dinars on the black market a year ago, now fetches 7 million.

The average monthly wage was $500 in 1991. Inflation has cut it to $30.

Farmers are hoarding wheat rather than sell it for near-worthless dinars, and a hungry winter looms.

Facing hardship and disgusted with a parliament loaded with gangsters and avowed fascists, many of Serbia's most talented people are moving abroad.

"Death has its own way of embittering victory, and it causes glory to be followed by pestilence."

Victor Hugo wrote those words in the last century. In an uncanny way they seem to foretell Serbia's dark future.