You wouldhave thought it was V-J Day, the way The New York Times carried on lastFriday in the wake of Milosevic's capitulation to NATO force. "MilosevicYields on NATO's Key Terms" screamed the paper's headline. "50,000Allied Troops to Police Kosovo." Then the subhed "Million RefugeesCan Return"-just to reassure you that everything's going to be just fine. Orderup watermelons, bunting and a keg of beer; call out the fifes and drums.
Sure,the Serb leader's concession was big news. But if it was as epochal and as unambiguouslyoptimistic as the Times apparently wanted it to be, no one hadsufficiently apprised the editors of the local tabloids. Patrick Ewing, hiswracked body and his increasingly uninteresting desire for an NBA championshipdominated the New York Post's front cover and relegated the war newsto a banner-"Slobbo Finally Cries Uncle"-at the page's bottom.The Daily News, meanwhile, devoted its front page-"Fire CaptainFights For Life"-to fireman Vincent Fowler, who injured himself on Thursdayin a burning Queens basement; he died Friday. Apparently, and in weird contraventionof what The New York Times must believe, it's possible to consider thetribulations of a ballplayer and of a stock tabloid character-a fireman, forGod's sake-as more pertinent for the moment than a fairly dramatic developmentin Clinton's war. And though Newsday did put Kosovo on the cover, ittranslated the Times' aggressive triumphalism into an uncertain question."Peace?" asked Newsday's cover line, which ran under a photographof three Kosovar refugees, two of whom appeared pretty miserable, despite thePresident's brave humanitarian labors on their behalf. Even The WashingtonPost (no enemy itself of the Clinton regime) undercut its optimistic headline-"YugoslavsYield to NATO Terms"-with a subhed that suggested a redemptive bit of doubtin the mission: "Air Assault to Continue Pending Full Compliance."In other words, and all official optimism notwithstanding, this might notbe the end. The Wall Street Journal's headline went even farther than thePost's by casting Milosevic's capitulation in the conditional mood: "IfPeace Deal Holds in Yugoslavia, Allies Face Tough New Tests."