Jesse Jackson's feat in securing the release of three US soldiers captured by the Serbs is far from his first venture into freelance diplomacy. In 1984 Mr Jackson, a civil-rights crusader, went to Syria to arrange the release of a US pilot shot down over Lebanon. The same year he was in Cuba, negotiating freedom for 48 political prisoners. In 1990 he helped to persuade Saddam Hussein to free foreign women and children held in Iraq during the Gulf conflict.
He went to Belgrade against the advice of the White House but is bringing a letter from Sloboban Milosevic, just as US doubts about the war are growing and some see signs of real interest from Yugoslavia in a diplomatic solution. Mr Clinton will have to move carefully.