Leading article: Politicians' promises, commanders' fears

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The Independent Culture
TO READ the newspapers this weekend one might conclude that Nato is about to launch a land invasion of Kosovo. Months after Serbia embarked on its vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing, one might be forgiven for assuming the West was about to roll up its sleeves, hurl Slobodan Milosevic's forces back into Serbia and escort hundreds of thousands of refugees home.

But as our correspondent in Macedonia reports today, this impression is ill-founded. Even as Western political leaders engage in what seems a competition to outdo one another in promises to send more and more troops to the Balkans, our commanders on the ground point out that we are no nearer to launching a ground war than we were at the start of the campaign more than two months ago.

They say the number of troops being sent out to Albania and Macedonia is still many thousands short of the number needed to mount any such invasion. The gap between politicians' rhetoric and our commanders' more sober appreciation of the facts is becoming dangerously wide. The public has a right to know whether we really intend to invade Kosovo if air strikes fail.

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