When Worlds Collide
Washington's worst nightmarethat Russia and China might reunitesuddenly 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 infrastructureroads, 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 enemynot an allyand 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
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 countrys president, Nelson Mandela, indicated over the weekend. What we condemn are his actions, Mandela said. But I dont 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 Milosevics 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.
Massacre But a Blip for the Gun Industry
Merchants of Death
Even after the Littleton school massacre, there is scant prospect of any serious congressional legislation regulating the gun trade. Events like Mon day's White House talkfest on violence certainly won't slow it. The industry is busy niche-
marketing guns to women and children, and low-end "Saturday Night Specials" to ghetto dwellers and the rural poor. And to crooks.
For the first time, the marketing of handguns is openly aimed at criminals in more than 40 states that have adopted laws permitting the carrying of concealed weapons. These weapons, such as the Tec-DC9 used in Littleton, are advertised as "fingerprint-resistant."
While the police decry the trend toward high-powered handguns, they play a role in selling weapons to secondary markets. Guns seized in crimes often are sold back to the public through municipal auctions. And some police departments also sold old weapons magazines that are now illegal to gun dealers.
In his new book, Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, Tom Diaz of the Violence Policy Center describes how Glock, which uses former lawmen and police armorers as sales agents, persuaded the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's law enforcement division to upgrade from .357 Magnum revolvers to Glock's 9mm pistols in 1990. Because this 300-officer force, which patrols for hunting, fishing, and pollution violations, hardly needs such high-powered weaponry, the upgrade raised eyebrows. In addition, "the new toy," as it was called, was meant to last 20 years. But in three years, Glock was back, success fully pushing the division to upgrade againto its .40-caliber pistol. An inspector general's report scathingly at tacked this upgrade, noting that Glock had arranged for the cops to buy back their traded-in guns, which they then sold to the private market at a profit.
Smooched by Hillary, Bodyguard Claims
Fresh Meat for Starr
Just as Ken Starr's endless, sex-driven probe finally seemed to be fizzling in the wake of last week's bizarre mistrial in the Julie Hiatt Steele casein which jurors were put off when Kathleen Willey wore a short black dress into courta fresh, tantalizing report has surfaced about Hillary Clinton's alleged involvement with a bodyguard in Arkansas.
In a new, self-published book, Crossfire: Witness in the Clinton Investigation, the former bodyguard, L.D. Brown, tells a hard to believe tale. Brown claims that once, during the 1980s, he was driving Hillary from Little Rock to Pine Bluff when Mrs. Clintonwho was in the front seat of the limostarted giving him a "speech about 'getting things' from other people besides your spouse." Then, according to Brown, Hillary said she wanted to travel with him more.
"At that moment," as Brown tells it, "she slid to the middle of the front seat of the Lincoln and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. I didn't utter a word. I saw my entire career, or what was left of it, fly past....I restarted the car and we drove back to the Mansion. She didn't say another word."
Meanwhile, back at the Steele trial, Willeywho claimed the president had "his hands all over me" in a White House corridorattacked presidential lawyer Bob Bennett for allegedly attempting to intimidate her.
Testifying last week, Willey said that before giving a deposition in the Paula Jones case, she was approached by Bennett, who suggested that she invoke the Fifth Amendment.
"It was a threat coming from the president," Willey testified.
Bennett denied suggesting Willey take the fifth, adding, "It's an absolutely bald-faced lie."
Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.