Nation

V-K Day
Behind the Shrubbery
Primarily Colorless
Jungle Fever
Strafing Puerto Rico
Lawrence of Arabia
'Weyr Witch' Rides Again


V-K Day
Clinton Cleans Up

The full extent of Clinton's victory in Kosovo hadn't sunk in as George W. Bush's media entourage swept out from Austin. But Kosovo— about which Bush was silent through most of the conflict— seems certain to stamp Clinton's legacy, with victory also accruing to his partner— not Al Gore, who handled the Russian connection, but Tony Blair, who took the heat as the hawk, and whose troops will make or break the occupation.

Amid reports that Milosevic suffered a stroke following his indictment as a war criminal, Serbian dissidents were bracing for a new wave of repression as the Balkans strongman tightened his grip following last week's settlement.

In a televised address Monday from a bombed bridge in Novi Sad, Milosevic told the nation that Serbia had won the war with NATO. In a speech last week, he said that not only had Serbia kept Kosovo but that it had resuscitated the UN in the process.

The defeated NATO now plans to cut Serbia off from the world, refusing any aid as long as Milosevic is in power. The civilian population, facing massive unemployment, will depend on the state to survive. Milosevic, protected by his praetorian guard, will tighten the levers of repression.

As for Kosovo, with the Russians hunkered down at Pristina Airport and the KLA hard on the heels of fleeing Serbs, the province will soon be populated almost totally by ethnic Albanians. After a lengthy five-sector NATO occupation, apparently with some kind of Russian "zone of influence," it seems likely to be headed either for independence or inclusion in a "greater Albania." By Monday, the KLA reportedly was in control of parts of the city of Prizren.

Despite the Russians' beating the West into Kosovo, the prospect of the Kremlin mounting much of a force there seems dubious. Russian soldiers are poorly paid, with many working part-time as parking attendants or even begging on the streets.

"Life has forced me to go to Kosovo," Alexander Timolin told the Boston Globe on Sunday, explaining why he jumped at the chance to make $1000 a month as a volunteer peacekeeper.

Since Russia doesn't have the money to pay its own troops, let alone a serious peacekeeping force, NATO will have to foot the bill for a small symbolic force— about all Yeltsin really needs as a political prop.


Behind the Shrubbery
Kasich in the Wings

What happens if Dubya flops?

That's the question some Republicans were asking last week as the pumped-up Texas wunderkind finally ventured onto the campaign trail.

"I'm not talking about it," said former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour, who is supporting Bush. "Republicans don't need to be looking for an alternative, because nothing is going to happen to Bush. He ain't going to be hit by a truck."

Fallback is not an enticing prospect. Quayle, Forbes, Alexander hardly elicit inspiration. Buchanan is too far out. Liddy Dole, a possible Dubya vp pick, was running at 14 percent, slightly ahead of Quayle, in a weekend CNN poll.

But if something truly horrible happens— like reports coming to light about something really stupid Dubya did in his wild and crazy youth— then there's always John Kasich, the Ohio Republican, House Budget Committee chair, and JFK rip-off who aims his political riffs at women and young people.

Last week, Kasich managed to make news with his own new scheme for "protecting" Social Security. Kasich wants to "save" the system by asking baby boomers to take a modest cut in their Social Security returns so that their children can reap substantial rewards from a market-based plan. People over 55 and those already retired wouldn't be affected.


Primarily Colorless
2000 Races Could End Fast

Before the declining U.S. electorate knows what hit it, the 2000 presidential primaries could be history. In fact, the campaigns could be over by next March 7. "If at the end of that day, one candidate has won a plurality or a majority in those primaries, he'll become an irresistible force," says Karl Rove, George W. Bush's campaign manager.

Sixty percent of GOP delegates will be chosen by March 14, and 70 percent of Democratic delegates by the end of March.

In the past, candidates hit the starting gates in Iowa and New Hampshire in February, swung through the South in March, and fought it out in primaries culminating with California in June. But big states have moved up their primaries, and next year voters in New York, California, Ohio, and Georgia will cast ballots on the first Tuesday in March. As it stands, major candidates will face perhaps a dozen primaries before March 10, and more than a dozen in the South and Midwest a week later.

The compressed elections favor candidates who are known and have big bankrolls— i.e., Bush and Gore, who top the charts so far at around $13 million and $8.9 million each.


Jungle Fever
Colombia Fighting Could Spill Into Panama

The next U.S. shooting war could be in America's own backyard and could involve the Panama Canal. Administration officials are viewing with concern the activities of two groups of guerrillas in neighboring Colombia, which have been vying for control of that country and its drug riches.

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