Congress Gets Wise to Ground Troops

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WASHINGTON: Midway through their two-week vacation, members of Congress from both parties broke their dignified (read politically fearful) silence on the Kosovo disaster Sunday to say what the rest of the Kosovo-watching world has been saying since the bombs started falling: by insisting ahead of time that this war could be won solely from above, President Clinton proved himself one lousy poker player. "The diplomacy won't start until our president stops saying no ground troops," said GOP foreign-policy maven Sen. Richard Lugar. "I hope if the Congress returns that we convince him to do his job -- to be commander-in-chief -- to win the war."

This strategic acumen and political courage, of course, was nowhere to be found two weeks ago, or even two months ago when diplomacy first began to fail, and Senate Democrat Joe Lieberman admitted as much. But, he said Sunday, "next week, I think there may be [support in Congress for ground troops], because we understand more." How nice for them. "Even if they weren't willing to send them in, Clinton could have moved troops into place during the negotiations and bluffed," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "Milosevic knew that his ethnic cleansing couldn't possibly be stopped without them." So did Clinton's military advisers; now NATO is at last readying an airlift of refugees, and some 20,000 of them will be taken in -- temporarily, say officials -- by the United States. Perhaps they can all stay in Washington.

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