Today's Story Line

As NATO tries to figure out if Slobodan Milosevic is ready to cut a peace deal, the United States is faced with the possibility that it may need to be protector of the Balkans for years.

For Middle East nations, the Kosovo war is a mirror for their own situations. As the war began, Israel did not condemn the Serb ouster of Muslim Albanians. Israelis carry the memory of the Holocaust, but they also recall the Serbs' fight against the Nazis. Quote of note: "It took time for Israeli officials to accommodate themselves to a complex situation, but the damage has been done in terms of the moral position of Israel." - Shlomo Avineri, political scientist, Hebrew University. While some Arabs hail NATO's defense of a Muslim people in Europe, many remain suspicious of the West's motives.

Can the US be a partner with a Chinese leader who was once sent to a pig farm for opposing some Marxist ideas? Prime Minister Zhu Rongji (pronounced joo rahng-jee) is touring America this week, hoping to charm critics and cement a "partnership" with the US. One looming issue is whether the US should help Taiwan (and Japan) build a missile-defense system.

- Clayton Jones World editor


*A SUBSTITUTE FOR WAR? When Balkans correspondent Justin Brown checked with the Yugoslav Army yesterday about any press functions, he was told the big event was a soccer game. Despite Yugoslavia's "state of war," a team from Greece squared off against a Belgrade squad. The matchup, billed as a show of solidarity, was aired widely on Serbian television - displacing the usual heavy dosage of news. Greece is a NATO ally.

*WHAT THE SCENERY SAYS: Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson has worked frequently in both Iraq and the Balkans. In addition to parallels between Iraq and Yugoslavia described in today's article (this page), Scott says that to drive through either place is to be reminded of a strategy the two regimes share: ethnic cleansing. No visitor to northern Iraq can miss the piles of stone rubble, reminders of the tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds forced from their homes or killed during Saddam Hussein's Anfal Campaign of 1988, about which a UN report said "few parallels" could be found since World War II. One parallel cited by many, of course, is Bosnia, where Serbs - inspired by their ethnic brothers in Belgrade, and Slobodan Milosevic's ultranationalist fervor - "cleansed" Muslims and Croats earlier this decade. Visitors to Bosnia today, driving through once-pristine hillside villages, can see burned and abandoned homes, with frontyard minefields.

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