GOP Seeks Limits to Peacekeeping New Bills in Congress Show Misgivings over UN Peacekeeping Missions, Seek Return of 'Star Wars'

Article excerpt

THE future shape of United States defense policy in an era of GOP congressional control will become a little clearer this week, as the House of Representatives debates the national security portions of the Republican "Contract With America."

At its heart, the National Defense Revitalization Act reflects Republican misgivings over US involvement last year in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Haiti. The Republican legislation would reduce -- and potentially eliminate -- US funding for such operations and set strict conditions for US participation in future UN military actions.

GOP strikes back

The bill would also resurrect President Reagan's dream of a "star wars" antiballistic missile defense program and create a commission to assess the impact of shrinking military budgets. Another provision calls for the admission to NATO of the former communist countries of Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

The House is expected to open debate on the bill tomorrow or Wednesday, and its chances of passage are good, GOP aides say. A similar measure sponsored by Senate majority leader Bob Dole (R) of Kansas makes it likely that some version will be sent to President Clinton. He is almost certain to veto it.

Supporters say the bill would halt US participation in UN operations that have little or no bearing on national security. Furthermore, they say, it would end the White House's practice of using Pentagon funds to cover costs exceeding the authorized US share of the annual UN peacekeeping bill.

The practice, they contend, has hurt US military readiness by depriving the Pentagon of money earmarked for training exercises, equipment maintenance and other critical operations.

"We simply cannot respond over and over again to these contingencies {that} lack a clear linkage to our national security," says Sen. John Warner (R) of Virginia, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Clinton administration and its Democratic allies on Capitol Hill have lobbied hard against the bill. They say it embodies a direct intrusion into the executive branch's constitutional stewardship of US defense and foreign policies, and would greatly undermine US relations with the UN. …

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