If U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke succeeds in averting a NATO bombing raid on Yugoslavia, that would be worth celebrating. But it would hardly be a victory.

To win a victory, someone must find a solution.The biggest question facing Europe and the United States is not whether to bomb. It is how to end Slobodan Milosevic's relentless campaign of terror against the ethnic Albanian majority in the Kosovo province. For that, the answers remain elusive.

Milosevic has shown he won't budge without NATO providing a credible threat of military action. NATO forces tried to scare him earlier this year by conducting maneuvers in neighboring Macedonia and Albania, but Milosevic recognized it for the hollow gesture it was. Only now, when NATO has issued activation orders for air strikes, has he agreed to withdraw.

Force, then, is an effective tool for ensuring a withdrawal of troops from Kosovo. But what happens when, after a few weeks of heightened security and detailed inspections by international observers, the world again turns its attention elsewhere? Is Milosevic paying attention to the example set by Saddam Hussein? He has shown that persistent misbehavior eventually leads to appeasement from other world leaders.

Milosevic may not pose as much of a danger to the world as Saddam, but he does pose a danger to regional stability. More importantly, he is directly responsible for the slaughter of hundreds and the uprooting of more than 300,000 ethnic Albanians who may spend the next few months freezing to death in the mountains. Milosevic calls this an internal matter. But genocide must never be considered a legitimate internal strategy for any sovereign's domestic problems.

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Holbrooke has done well to get Milosevic to agree to terms. But NATO must summon the will to enforce a long-term solution that grants a measure of autonomy to Kosovo. Anything less would expose ethnic Albanians to even worse atrocities at a later date.

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