Russian Roulette

Peace Moves Amid Belgrade Power Struggle

The key to Clinton's cutting his losses in the failed Yugoslavian air war will be the price Boris Yeltsin's government demands in return for negotiating a peace settlement. At a minimum, this means U.S. support for $4 to $5 billion in IMF loans and an end to NATO's campaign to recruit Baltic nations as new members.

On Monday, following deputy prime minister Vuk Draskovic's apparent split with Milosevic on the terms of a possible deal, diplomats began shuttling into settlement mode. Draskovic, a loose cannon who's reportedly considering a bid for power, was a Milosevic opponent before joining the government last year. He now says Yugoslavia could accept UN troops from NATO countries in Kosovo. Meanwhile, the Russians are insisting on a bombing halt.

It's possible Draskovic may be aligned with generals seeking to break with Milosevic, since his speech on Monday was given in a TV station controlled by the army. One figure to watch is Momcilo Perisic, the general who was stripped of power by Milosevic in 1996 after he refused to send tanks against protesting students in Belgrade, who later stalled on sending troops into Kosovo.

Following Drascovic's speech, Madeleine Albright dispatched troubleshooter Strobe Talbott to Moscow to meet with Viktor Chernomyrdin. Originally, the administration had dismissed Chernomyrdin's talks with Milosevic, but by Monday Clinton was taking a second look. In addition, the Red Cross visited the captured U.S. POWs. Then, with Clinton's blessing, Jesse Jackson flew to visit Milosevic.

All indications are that Clinton finally realizes the war has to be stopped. Over the weekend in Washington, NATO leaders made it clear that a ground war is out. Gerhard Schroeder, whose coalition depends on German Green Party members who are demanding an end to bombing, declared: "The debate is off the table. The political decisions are unequivocal and we have to stick with them." The Italians were aghast at the bombing of Serb TV, with foreign minister Lamberto Dini describing it as "terrible" and adding that the building was not on the approved list of targets. French diplomats, though sticking with the campaign, strongly implied that France would never again get involved in anything like this.

At home, the war has been a mixed blessing for Clinton, enabling him to have common cause with GOP congressional leaders in the fight to get more money for the military. But it's killing Gore in the polls, and giving the methodical Bill Bradley's campaign a shot in the arm. Perhaps most importantly, the war is seen as a threat to Clinton's legacy.

Lords of Chaos
Cultural Roots of the Colorado Massacre

The Nazi symbolism flaunted by the teens accused in the mass murder last week at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, has renewed speculation about neo-Nazi influences in the counterculture, specifically in certain areas of Black/Death Metal or "extreme" music. Also within the last week, the British racist group Combat 18, which is intricately involved in the White Power music scene, claimed responsibility for two bombings in minority neighborhoods in London.

Although only a few people involved in Black Metal music have neo-Nazi leanings, squirreled away amid the goths, Satanists, and Odinists are some Hitler lovers. Racist right political leaders are always on the lookout for ways to recruit malleable foot soldiers, and in recent years the fringes of the music world have proved a rich resource.

In the U.S., the racist right has been active in Colorado over the last few years. On November 18, 1997, while accused Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols was on trial in Denver, Nathan Thill, 19, a self-professed racist skinhead, confessed in a TV interview to fatally shooting Oumar Dia, 38, an African immigrant, while Dia stood at a Denver bus stop, because he was black and "didn't belong where he was at." Thill, later convicted in the killing, added that Dia "didn't seem like much to me." Thill also was convicted of shooting a 36-year-old white woman, Jeannie VanVelkinburgh, in the back when she tried to help Dia. VanVelkinburgh is permanently paralyzed. The Dia murder followed a rash of violent incidents involving skinheads in the Denver area. In one, a skinhead shot and killed a Denver cop who was pursuing him, then killed himself.

In pondering the cultural roots of the Columbine massacre, one place to look might be the extreme Black Metal scene of northern Europe in the early '90s, especially in Norway, where it was openly violent. In Oslo, in 1994, Varg Vikenes, lead singer of the group Burzum, was sentenced to prison for the murder of Oystein Aarseth, the leader of the band Mayhem. In addition, Vikenes was convicted of burning down three churches and attempted arson of a fourth. During his trial Vikenes declared that "through church burning and Black Metal music we will reawaken the Norwegians' feelings of belonging to Odin, god of Norse myth."

Vikenes's career was emulated throughout Europe. In Sweden, Black Metal devotees set churches on fire, and in one case went on a "niggerhunt." In France, a member of the band Funeral, who called himself Hades, declared, "Under the sign of the SS, we will triumph. Loyalty and Honor! Sieg Heil!" Following raids on band members' apartments, French cops displayed photos of youths dressed in trench coats and instructions for making pipe bombs.

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