If NATO launches a bombing attack on Yugoslavia, the United
will be fighting two simultaneous conflicts for the first time since
World War II.
In addition to the low-level air war the US has been waging for
months over Iraq, US ships and planes have been awaiting only the
last-ditch mission to Belgrade yesterday by US envoy Richard
Holbrooke before launching strikes on Serb forces.
As if emerging from the fog of distractions, from the impeachment
scandal to the soaring Dow, international security is now dominating
political attention as at no other time since the end of the cold
NATO intervention in Kosovo, building a missile-defense system,
and alleged Chinese nuclear espionage have become the most intense
political debates in town.
They don't connect directly to the workaday lives of most
Americans, but they are controversial and taking on an increasingly
"We've had a fairly steady stream of foreign policy problems that
are serious and difficult to deal with," notes Lee Hamilton, a
congressman from Indiana who served as chairman of the House
International Relations Committee. "They have captured the attention
of the administration."
These issues have also cap-tured the attention of the GOP
majority on Capitol Hill.
Having failed to convict Clinton and hard put to assail his fiscal
policies, Republicans are taking aim at his handling of foreign and
security policies in a bid to find chinks in Democratic defenses in
the run-up to next year's elections.
Says a GOP congressional staffer: "We will continue to pursue
policy issues that need to be pursued because we believe that good
policy makes good politics."
What bothers the GOP
At the core of the GOP's attacks are contentions that Clinton is
inattentive to foreign affairs and has compromised the nation's
security by pursuing policies that overaccommodate other states at
the expense of those of the United States.
They criticize as insufficient his approach to developing defenses
against missile attacks, his policies toward the dictatorships in
Iraq and North Korea as weak, and they blame him for the military's
readiness and recruitment problems.
They also take aim at what they say are a lack of an "exit
strategy" in the Balkans and Clinton's refusal to get tough with
Moscow over alleged aid to Iranian nuclear and conventional weapons
programs. And they question whether illicit contributions to his
1996 campaign allegedly funneled by Beijing influenced his decision
to loosen controls on technologies sought by the Chinese military.
Most recently, Republicans have seized on China's alleged theft of
nuclear weapons secrets from the Los Alamos atomic weapons
in the 1980s. …