International Papers

Fear of Bombing


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The Times of London reported Monday from Belgrade that a boa constrictor named Madeleine Albright in the city’s zoo has been impregnated by another boa constrictor named Warren Christopher. Otherwise there was mostly gloom in Europe, about the prospect of NATO strikes on Serbia. In Italy, the front-line European country into which Albanian refugees will pour if attempts to resolve the Kosovo crisis fail–and the country most exposed to Serbian military retaliation– La Repubblica published a front-page comment Monday that was deeply skeptical of the use of force. It said that Italy and its NATO allies are about to enter a war against Yugoslavia “without anybody, on either side of the Atlantic, having clear ideas about the objectives or the consequences of a military intervention unprecedented in Europe in this second half of the century.”

Signed by Lucio Caracciolo, the article said it is impossible to see how NATO action will help Albanians suffering in the woods of Kosovo. Instead, it might turn President Slobodan Milosevic into a Serbian martyr and permit him to repress the Albanians even more ferociously after the bombing stops. The only way to help the refugees is to open Italy’s border to them while simultaneously putting large numbers of U.N. troops on the ground in Kosovo.

Caracciolo described U.S. policies as so contradictory that “many believe Washington supports Kosovo’s independence from Yugoslavia without wanting to say so.” “There is no grand plan for the Balkans, neither in America nor anywhere else,” he said. “If we bomb, it won’t be to impose a solution, as we don’t have one, but because of a need for Clinton to show signs of international political life after his many setbacks, because of the CNN effect that renders intolerable humanitarian tragedies shown on television at the expense of all other ones, and in order to save what little credibility remains to NATO in the Balkans.” La Stampa of Turin, however, supported the idea of airstrikes against Serbia as “a symbolic act” against Milosevic’s intransigence. It said Richard Holbrooke gave the impression that he fully understood that “the obstacle to overcome is not in Pristina but in Belgrade.”

On the forthcoming Middle East summit at Wye Plantation outside Washington, Ha’aretz of Israel reported Sunday as its main story that Ariel Sharon, Israel’s new hard-line foreign minister-designate, will act as a “watchdog” over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure he doesn’t make too many concessions to the Palestinians. The same paper said in an editorial that the summit is “not the be-all and end-all, because even if the sides sign some sort of agreement, it will not be able to reverse in one fell swoop the feeling of alienation that prevails between them.” It added, “After all, it is not the absence of an agreement, but the failure to implement it, that brought about the need to meet at Wye Plantation.”

In an editorial Monday, the Times of India commended Amnesty International for strongly criticizing the U.S. human rights record in a recent report. “It accuses the US of refusing to recognise the primacy of international law, reserving the right to use the death penalty against juveniles and of being the only country, apart from Somalia, to have failed to ratify the UN convention on the rights of the child,” the paper said. But it went on to note “that India’s own record on human rights has been appalling, with the complaints registered with the National Human Rights Commission exceeding 30,000 last year.”

Corriere della Sera of Milan reported an opinion poll finding that 52 percent of Italian women between 16 and 24 do not want to have children. Forty-three percent favor the artificial insemination method Jodie Foster is rumored to have used. Only 19 percent said they definitely want to have a child. The principal reason cited for this reluctance: Maternity is seen as impeding a professional career.