Today's Papers

Withdrawal Symptoms

Everybody leads with the synchronized end to the war in Kosovo. First, the Serbs retreated, next NATO announced a halt to its bombing and then the U.N. Security Council approved the 50,000-troop peacekeeping plan and authorized the alliance to use “all necessary means” to protect returning refugees. Only China abstained from affirming the resolution. As the Washington Post points out, the Chinese objected to the resolution’s call for cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal. The New York Times underscores the resolution’s inclusion of the phrase “taking full account of the Rambouillet accords.” It’s a signal that independence for Kosovo is clearly contemplated. The Los Angeles Times adds the last act of the diplomatic script–the North Atlantic Council met to issue an “activation order” for the peacekeeping force.

The Kosovo force–called KFOR–will be headed by British Lt. Gen. Mike Jackson. Brits will eventually compose the largest part of the force (11,000 peacekeepers) and occupy the center of the province–with the French in the north, the Germans in the south, the Italians in the west, and the Americans in the east. The NYT says that the first deployment of NATO troops is delayed until Saturday. The Serbs are purportedly have difficulty pulling out, due to broken equipment, lack of fuel, and the onerous task of clearing mines. While the Post and the LAT front pictures of retreating Serbs flashing the three-fingered sign of Serb nationalism, USA Today captures the pitiable defiance with a photo of a special police member sticking out his tongue and wiggling his fingers as he withdraws.

The Wall Street Journal notes several disquieting signs: Serbs insist they will control who will enter Kosovo, and Russian peacekeeping participation is unsettled. The Post reports another bad indication: at least one firefight broke out between Yugoslav troops and Kosovo rebels. But KLA leaders did vow to demilitarize once NATO moves in and the KFOR commander pledged to be “evenhanded” in protecting civilians, according to the paper.

Part of the peacekeepers’ mission will be restoring “law and order” to lay the groundwork for a massive relief effort. G-8 foreign ministers promised to support a “stability pact” aimed at strengthening the southeastern states of Europe. The NYT says the “Schroeder Plan” could cost $5 billion to $6 billion a year. No money will go to Serbia while Milosevic still governs. Kosovo will become an international protectorate with its own police and judiciary, according to a front-page Times feature based on American and NATO sources. Citizens will trade in deutsche marks or dollars and will not pay taxes to Yugoslavia.

Congresional Republicans called the settlement a disaster, the Post reports, but backed off a plan to thwart funding for American participation in peacekeeping. At least Tony Blair is standing up for his buddy Clinton. USAT publishes a prime ministerial op-ed sounding the same themes that Blair has regularly voiced during the Kosovo crisis through his increasingly frequent contributions to American publications. He praises the president, lauds NATO unity, and urges the West to make a long-term commitment to helping Balkan countries. Although Blair argues that NATO can only claim victory once the refugees are home, in his televised address Clinton declared that the alliance “achieved a victory.” But the president stressed the “formidable challenges” to finishing the “just” job NATO had begun.

All papers front the Supreme Court decision (6-3) to strike down Chicago’s anti-loitering statute. The law, which made it a crime to hang out with a suspected gang member once warned to disperse, was declared unconstitutionally vague. From 1992 to 1995, Chicago arrested 42,000 loiterers in an attempt to reclaim neighborhoods from gangs. Writing for the majority, and joined by Justices Ginsburg and Souter, Justice Stevens recognized a constitutionally cognizable right to loiter. As Justices O’Connor and Breyer made clear in their concurrence, according to the NYT, the court’s decision leaves room for a redrafted law that would affect the same purpose as the invalidated anti-gang statute. Civil libertarians cheered the victory, while police groups groused that the decision halted an effective means to head off violence, according to USAT. The LAT points out that California prosecutors rely on targeted court injunctions to control the gang menace. This narrow approach avoids the open-endedness that made the Chicago law constitutionally defective in the eyes of the court.

All papers reefer the IRS rejection of tax-exempt status for the Christian Coalition. The decision will likely make churches skittish about distributing the influential conservative organization’s literature. The coalition will reorganize into an exempt and non-exempt branch. Experts see this move as a blatant attempt to evade the law, according to the LAT. Coalition founder Pat Robertson will assume a greater role. But the Post says Pat is also falling on hard times: The board of Laura Ashley booted him because gay groups protested and the Bank of Scotland backed out of a deal after the Reverend called Scotland a degenerate “dark land” where homosexuals wield too much power.

The LAT fronts a tale of two commencements: Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered Harvard’s commencement address in Cambridge, while former Labor Secretary Robert Reich addressed 75 graduates of a job training program in Boston. The Post informs that the chairman described himself as an “idealistic central banker.” But Reich warned that if the Fed hikes interests rates, as is anticipated, jobs will disappear. In his address Greenspan advised graduates to go forth with decency and resisted dampening the festivities with admonishments against irrational exuberance.