U.S. Plans Kosovo Deployment

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Can the Clinton administration sneak 4,000 U.S. troops past Congress and into Kosovo? Defense Secretary Cohen cited NATO commitments Wednesday, telling Congress the U.S. might send a "relatively small" contingent of ground troops to join a three-year peacekeeping operation. With the Serbs agreeing Thursday to join the ethnic-Albanians at Paris peace talks on Saturday, U.S. legislators are unlikely to stand in Clinton's way. But they're unimpressed by his approach to peacekeeping commitments: "Senator John McCain warned last week that he was sick and tired of being presented with a fait accompli," says TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "The administration discusses troop deployment with our European allies and with the press before it's actually discussed with Congress."

Special Report Spinning the mission as a NATO commitment may make it easier to secure congressional acquiescence, but it carries its own risk: "Without public opinion and Congress strongly behind such a decision, this could get dicey," says Thompson. "If, God forbid, some American troops are killed in Week 2, the administration will have a real problem." And the folks in Kosovo aren't exactly gun-shy.