Magazine article Newsweek International

Spin (out of) Control

Magazine article Newsweek International

Spin (out of) Control

Article excerpt

Last week British paratrooper Ian Collins, 22, was killed on the first day that NATO began collecting weapons from Albanian guerrillas in Macedonia. Officials blamed a gang of youths who threw a concrete slab off a bridge onto a British jeep. But there are indications that the attack was organized and premeditated, and may even have had tacit police support, according to NATO sources. It wasn't an encouraging start to a mission that has already violated many of the conditions NATO set for itself.

* NATO would go into Macedonia only if invited. In fact, the Macedonian government agreed essentially under duress. It wants NATO out.

* NATO would go into Macedonia only if there was a durable ceasefire. NATO says the ceasefire is holding, but only relatively. "Proof" of stability since troops arrived? A blown-up church, a fire fight in Tetovo and three bombs set off in Skopje. And Macedonian Army troops still haven't withdrawn all of their heavy arms from frontline positions, as promised.

* NATO would go into Macedonia only if there was a "benign and permissive environment." American medics trying to treat Collins had to flee from a hostile, stone-throwing mob whipped up by anti-NATO propaganda from the government. A group of ultranationalist Slavic Macedonians has blockaded the principal highway and railway between Skopje and Kosovo from the day NATO arrived, threatening the supply line to troops already in Kosovo. Hostility to all Westerners is at such a fever pitch that neither aid workers nor diplomats fraternize with local Slavs any longer. …

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