Don't Bring the Boys Home

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WASHINGTON: A president couldnít ask for an easier war ó No body bags; no demonstrators; no civilians caught in the crossfire; indeed, no crossfire at all.

And yet keeping the troops in Bosnia still requires considerable flip-flopping from Bill Clinton. The 1995 mission was renewed for 18 months after the '96 election ó and now Clinton wants Congress to extend it again.

"Even though the mission has been relatively successful, thereís still a danger of complete collapse if we leave," says TIMEís White House correspondent Jef McAllister.

Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson adds: "With the troops already there, 90 percent of the Presidentís battle is won. There will be shouting and gnashing of teeth, but ultimately Congress will go along with it."

Once again, though, the mandate will be finite: "Clinton will come up with a new departure date, even if thatís not very credible," says McAllister. Thompson concurs: "Bosnia looks more like Korea or Germany, where troops are permanently stationed. But nobody in power is prepared to level with the American people on that one."