World Closes In on Smirk & Sniffle
Central in More Ways Than One
Rush's Favorite Pollster
Surplus Value

World Closes In on Smirk & Sniffle
Word War II

Last week's "peaceful revolution" in Yugoslavia and the threat of a war in the Middle East put foreign policy—one area where Bush and Gore actually differ—in the spotlight. Gore argues for an aggressive "peacekeeping" policy abroad, while Bush, although he would beef up the military, is more restrained. Bush would commit troops only when war is seen as clearly winnable. Yugoslavia illustrates the pitfalls of the Clinton decision to intervene after the war was well under way. For years the administration was an awkward ally of Milosevic, and even now the world doubts that the U.S. is serious about prosecuting him as a war criminal.

Milosevic's downfall leaves open the question of whether the Serbs will attempt to refashion the old Yugoslav federation. To do that, the civil rights of all groups in the former Yugoslavia must be respected. Otherwise, Milosevic's legacy of ultranationalism will continue to leave Serbia cut off from the rest of Europe.

Most of the democratic opposition, which backed the nationalist Kostunica as the best way of getting rid of Milosevic, hardly shares the law professor's nationalist views. Kostunica has said that he won't turn Milosevic over to the war crimes tribunal in the Hague, and indeed doesn't even recognize it. Meanwhile, Milosevic is vowing to get back into politics.

Vuk Obradovic, the former army general who heads the Social Democratic Party, told The Washington Post over the weekend what many fear—that as long as Milosevic remains in the country "he is a dangerous man. . . . He is a thug, a mafioso, a dictator."

In the past, Kostunica has allied himself with Vojislav Seselj, who, with his nutty calls for beating up journalists in public and otherwise trashing anyone who does not embrace ultranationalism, has always been viewed as further to the right than Milosevic. It's hard to see Belgrade's independent journalists, who are firmly anchored at the center of the democratic opposition, supporting Kostunica over the long term. Nor is Natasa Kandic, the activist who runs the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, and who dared to go into Kosovo at the height of the war to monitor human rights abuses, a comfortable fit in this post-Milosevic world. In the face of adamant opposition from the military, which has branded her a traitor and wants her jailed, Kandic is pushing for prosecution of army leaders for war crimes. It's hard to believe that Kostunica, whose takeover was reportedly masterminded by the Yugoslavian army high command, will view her crusade with favor.

As for Kosovo, its ruin seems irreversible. It certainly appears to be lost as any sort of partner in a new federation, at least in the foreseeable future. The most likely prospect is for it to slip into some sort of short-lived independence before being swallowed whole by Albania. The emergence of a greater Albania will continue to threaten peace in the region by exacerbating fears of revolt in Greece and Bulgaria, both of which have large Albanian populations.

Central in More Ways Than One
New Jersey's Hot 12th

There is no fiercer congressional race in the country than the knock-down-drag-out going on in central New Jersey's 12th District, where Democratic bigwigs like Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt, and Ann Richards have hurried in to shore up the tottering one-term New Democrat Rush Holt. Pitted against him is Dick Zimmer, the former Republican congressman who authored Megan's Law, who is attempting a comeback. John McCain has made appearances in the district to support him. Political insiders are watching this district for clues as to which party will control the House.

Linking Trenton to New Brunswick and Princeton to Rutgers, with well-heeled pharmaceutical and telecom companies jammed together in what has become a commuter's gridlock nightmare, the fast-growing 12th is a study in suburban sprawl. An economic conservative who sides with the likes of Dick Armey but a social moderate who backs choice, Zimmer is dead center on the GOP-Democratic faultline; he nearly fits the bill of a DLC Democrat and is one step from being a libertarian Republican. As an early-'90s congressman, he fought the Clinton health plan, backed no-frills prison reform, and was gung-ho on welfare cutbacks. But he has a reputation as an environmental advocate who has advanced plans to set aside open spaces and protect the Delaware River.

For his part, Holt authored an amendment last year to provide federal funds to states and communities to buy park and recreation land. As a result, $40 million will be added to New Jersey's matching-grant program for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the state will be eligible for more than $1 million to invest in open-space preservation.

Another hot issue revolves around tax cuts. On this, Holt is a Gore copycat, proposing $500 billion in cuts skimmed from the surplus to reward low- and middle-income residents, while also backing reduced estate taxes. Zimmer, like Bush, backs across-the-board tax cuts.

Spending has been lavish, with Zimmer having raised $1.2 million to Holt's $1.5 million. Securities and investment companies are Zimmer's biggest contributors, donating $248,250 to his campaign, while retirement groups, which so far have given $118,250, top Holt's list. The race is considered a toss-up.

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