War in Europe: SOME WINNERS AND LOSERS ...

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Indy Lifestyle Online
WINNER: TONY BLAIR

Tony Blair took a huge gamble by being the most outspoken allied leader. Hawkish on the issue of ground troops, he told his Nato partners they must do everything necessary to defeat Milosevic. The gamble paid off - Blair's reputation as a strong leader on the international stage will be enhanced. And his commitment to the morality of the conflict will win him several saintly points. Even more popularity in the polls seems certain.

LOSER: SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC

The very people who brought Serbia's president to power on a wave of nationalism are preparing to leave the "cradle of Serbia" ahead of Nato's troops. Doubtless his TV and radio mouthpieces will try to persuade ordinary folk that Slobo's courage is all that stood between them and the horrors of Nato occupation. Some suspect Slobo and his wife may emulate his parents, who both committed suicide.

WINNER: JAMIE SHEA

Each week the Nato press spokesman with a Cockney accent has been forced to explain away an array of Nato mistakes - in English and French. While his rhetorical denunciations of Milosevic got more extreme (including one quotation from Macbeth), he rarely lost his temper. He even put up with the arrival of New Labour spin doctors on his patch.

WINNER: THE PILOTS

Air power won the day, say the fly boys, even more than in the Gulf War. Cynics note that the pilots flew high to avoid allied casualties, and didn't always hit what they were supposed to. Critics will claim that the threat of a ground war and the KLA's recent offensives were decisive.

LOSER: THE APACHE

It took the US weeks to get the tank-busting Apache attack helicopter, the nemesis of the Iraqi army in the Gulf War, anywhere near the conflict (two of them crashed in training - killing the two-man crew in one case). And fears that they would be vulnerable to shoulder-launched surface- to-air missiles kept them grounded.

LOSER: IBRAHIM RUGOVA

How can the bookish head of Kosovo's independence movement live down the shame of being shown on Serbian TV with Milosevic? At best, he will allowed to return to his books while the KLA boss, Hasim Thaci, takes over. At worst, he could be bumped off as a traitor.

WINNER: ALBANIA

Ignored by the world since the collapse of Communism, the poorest country in Europe was left in a state of anarchy after an armed uprising. Then, nearly 450,000 refugees from Kosovo flooded in. The final straw? No, possibly the making of Albania. The West owes it a debt of gratitude and it stands to gain economically from long-term international commitment to the area.

LOSER: MACEDONIA

While this small, fragile nation took in nearly 250,000 Kosovar Albanians, the grudging, if not actively hostile attitude of its Slav majority, whose Serbian sympathies were obvious, cost it international support. It has suffered from loss of trade with Serbia, and most of the refugees are unlikely to leave for some time.

WINNER: CONSTRUCTION FIRMS

Other dealmakers are waiting in the wings: the construction firms, civil engineers, and architects. Companies likely to get the work include some of the biggest names in Britain - Bovis, Laing, and Tarmac. In just one small country, the final bill could be anything from pounds 20bn to pounds 100bn.

LOSER: THE TREASURY

The price of war - and of peace - will be felt deeply in Whitehall. The Kosovan settlement might well involve rewriting their long-term Treasury forecasts, as millions of pounds may have to be invested in the army. The costs of putting peacekeepers on the ground will be a major drain on resources. Then there is the cost of reconstruction: like the troops, most of the money will have to come from the European Union. Ultimately, that means from our pockets.

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