When Worlds Collide

Eerie Prospects After Bombing

Washington's worst nightmare—that Russia and China might reunite—suddenly seemed possible on Monday amid the diplomatic fallout following Friday night's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. With demonstrators in the third day of their ram page at the U.S. Embassy in China, Moscow's chief negotiator, Viktor Chernomyrdin, interrupted his shuttle diplomacy with NATO and flew to Beijing. Russia and China, through their vetoes in the UN Security Council, hold the upper hand in setting any peace timetable for Kosovo, and both insist that the bombing stop as a pre condition to negotiations.

U.S.-China relations had been in a tailspin over trade, human rights, and spying well before NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy, and at the start of the week China broke off talks with the U.S. on military issues and human rights.

Following the bombing, NATO was openly split, with Italy and Germany pressing for an end to the disastrous air campaign. That Russian influence never has been higher will make Moscow much harder to deal with. On the ground, Milosevic is the uncontested winner. After completing the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, where he re mains in control, on Monday he began a partial troop withdrawal amid re ports that his troops had used chemical weapons against the refugees.

NATO's influence in the makeup of the international force that will patrol the province is steadily waning. Worse, for the U.S., with each day that the bombing goes on, the campaign looks more like a war crime in its own right. The list of targets now includes the country's broad civilian infrastructure—roads, railroads, air ports, bridges, water supply mains. A major petrochemical works was bombed last month near Belgrade, spewing cancer-causing chemicals into a densely populated area. Last week, cluster bombs were dropped in civilian areas, some hitting the grounds of hospitals and clinics. And the Serbs report that more than a dozen elementary schools have been hit. (See the following item.)

At home, the embassy bombing underscores the fact that China is an enemy—not an ally—and one which, in the eyes of the right, has penetrated an administration that ignored warnings that Beijing had gained access to nuclear secrets. "There have been damaging security leaks," energy secretary Bill Richard son conceded on Meet the Press. "The Chinese have obtained damaging in formation...during past administrations and the current administration." Said Democratic senator Bob Kerrey, "I have no doubt there has been Chinese espionage at these nuclear labs."

Richardson's statement contradicts Clinton, who declared on March 19, "To the best of my knowledge, no one has said anything to me about any espionage which occurred by the Chinese against the labs during my presidency." Counterintelligence experts reportedly told high administration officials in November that there was an "acute intelligence threat" by China to the weapons labs. The ad ministration is still bracing for the release of a long-awaited report on Chinese espionage in the U.S., prepared by a bipartisan congressional committee headed by California Re publican Christopher Cox. The report, which supposedly will contend that Chinese operatives influenced U.S. elections in the 1990s, can't help Al Gore's campaign.

Massive Devastation in Balkans Detailed
NATO Wasteland

In addition to the obliteration of Serb police and army sites in Kosovo, NATO, as indicated above, has demolished much of the civilian infra structure of Yugoslavia. Attacks on Serb TV, oil refineries, chemical plants, and electric-transmission facilities are well-known. Following is a partial assessment of damage to civilian sites from March 24 through April 19, done by the European Union of Serbia, an independent nongovernmental group based in Belgrade:

In 7000 attacks, 500 civilians were killed, 4000 were wounded, and 500,000 workers were left jobless. Most railway bridges were totally destroyed. Damage was estimated at
$10 billion, with $3.5 billion of that in the northern province of Vojvoidina. NATO blew up bridges over the Danube, in the process taking out water mains that supply 1 million people. Also bombed were six major road ways, seven airports, 16 hospitals and health-care centers, 190 schools, several libraries, 16 medieval monasteries and shrines, as well as numerous museums and monuments.

Slobo to South Africa?
Shifts Funds; Mandela Leaves Door Open

In the unlikely event that Milosevic is forced out, he could take up residence in South Africa, that country’s president, Nelson Mandela, indicated over the weekend. ‘‘What we condemn are his actions,’’ Mandela said. ‘‘But I don’t think that would justify him from being banned from coming to South Africa.’’ At the same time, London papers were reporting that Milosevic was secretly shifting his financial empire through Cyprus, Greece, and Israel into South Africa in anticipation of a possible move there should he have to leave Yugoslavia.

If Milosevic were to depart, the democratic opposition would have a chance at restoring the multiethnic politics that dominated Yugoslavia be fore Milosevic’s rise to power in the late 1980s. The opposition, composed of hundreds of groups, is best known for its independent press, in particular Radio B92, which was driven under ground when the war began in March. In addition, it includes journalists around the magazine Republica, which managed to print an issue last week pledging an investigation of Serb atrocities in Kosovo; Women in Black, a group that has provided outreach to rape victims of Serb troops in Kosovo; and the Humanitarian Law Center, which has investigated war crimes, and whose leaders have been broad casting reports on atrocities in Kosovo over Radio Free Europe.

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