THE U.S. . . . POLITICKING OVER BOSNIA

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The State Department today outlined a U.S. policy option: stepping up military involvement -- with a $5 billion price tag. With the funding, U.S. forces could increase air strikes, supply weapons ranging from tanks to rocket-propelled grenades and train the Bosnian military. The price tag brought gasps of bipartisan congressional shock. "This is quite an eye-opener," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), while House Foreign Affairs chairman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) warned that the strategy could "Americanize the war." And Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the future House Speaker, said there was no way the Administration could spend that amount of money, "given the current budget constraints."Congress is simply playing right into Clinton's hand, explainsTIME State Department correspondent J.F.O. McAllister. Clinton has long been uneasy about U.S. military involvement in Bosnia; helifted the arms embargoonly because Congress passed a law, forcing his hand. "The presentation of this hugely expensive option is political positioning to slow down whatever Congress may have planned," McAllister says.Post your opinion on theWashingtonbulletin board.