Jesse Helms Takes On Milosevic

But the Serbian Democratization Act is all hat and no cattle

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WASHINGTON: So Jesse Helms has a plan. The ever-crotchety foreign-policy senator from North Carolina is set to introduce a bill on the Senate floor Thursday called the Serbian Democratization Act, which states that the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, not the decimation of his armies, is the primary goal of U.S. policy in the Balkans. To that end, the bill authorizes $100 million in U.S. funds to support democratic movements in Serbia.

Well, at least it's an endgame, which is more than the Clinton administration has been able to come up with. But TIME international affairs correspondent William Dowell considers it a faintly ridiculous one. "What opposition there is to Milosevic in Serbia is not organized. There's no accounting. There's no way Helms could put that money to any kind of good use." Helms isn't stupid, says Dowell -- just hypocritical. "This is an empty gesture for a domestic audience, and of course a dig at Clinton's policy," he says. But it'll never do anyone in the Balkans any good.