The next sounds heard around the Balkans volcano called Kosovo will be those of bombs.
Unless something changes quickly and dramatically, American ships and bombers will seek to make a graveyard of certain Serbian military targets within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Primary targets apparently will be Serb combat operations inside Kosovo, and perhaps some in Serbia itself. No American should be misled: such bombing runs will be riskier and more dangerous than those taking place regularly in Iraq and those in Bosnia earlier this decade.
Kosovo, like Bosnia, is a part of what used to be called Yugoslavia, over which the Russian-Orthodox Serbs seek to remain dominant. In Kosovo, most people are of Muslim heritage - as were, and still are, people in Bosnia.
Ancient hatreds and fears run deep throughout what used to be Yugoslavia - from the mostly Roman Catholic Croatia, through Russian-Orthodox Serbia, and on through predominantly Muslim Bosnia and Kosovo.
One reason, perhaps the main reason, President Clinton has decided to act is to stop the killing. He hopes to reduce the danger of Serbian aggression from spreading to Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. There remains the remote possibility that soon - as has happened before in history - larger European powers such as Germany and Russia would get pulled into a war over Europe's southern bridge to the Middle East.
This is big, dangerous stuff, and the hour is now.