Today, Somalia ... . . .Tomorrow, why not Bosnia?

The success of Bush's mission could put pressure on Clinton to intervene elsewhere.

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At the same time, the pressure to expand U.S. attention to Bosnia is building. The Bush Administration, which long considered Bosnia militarily untouchable, may be moving toward some form of action there. Powerful voices, including former Secretaries of State Cyrus Vance and George Shultz, have been demanding that the U.S. do something. "We have the assets," said Shultz. "We have the bases. We should get about the task." Even Ronald Reagan called for intervention "for humanitarian purposes." As Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers told his parliament, "It is downright scandalous that there is intervention in Somalia but not in Yugoslavia."

Pressure is also coming from the Islamic countries concerned about their fellow Muslims. The Islamic Conference has warned that if there is no significant international effort to help the Bosnians by Jan. 15, its member states could break the embargo on their own and supply Bosnian Muslims with arms. They are also considering sending Islamic troops to fight the Serbs, which could threaten to draw Muslim Albania and Orthodox Greece into the struggle.

Clinton has consistently pushed Bush to do more to help Bosnia. Last week he said that he understood why Bush did not want to send ground troops to Bosnia and that the operation in Somalia was easier and cheaper. "But," he said, "there may be other things that can be done."

He might be about to get his wish. The Security Council ruled last week that Serbian aggression in Bosnia threatens "international peace and security" and thus could be subject to military action directed by the U.N. In Brussels, NATO defense ministers followed up with agreement to "consider positively" any U.N. request to end the fighting in Bosnia and keep it from spreading. 'If they should turn to NATO," said its Secretary-General, Manfred Worner, "we would not say no."

U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney went to the NATO meeting primed to urge armed enforcement of a no-fly order over Bosnia issued last Oct. 9, a measure Clinton called for during the campaign. Surveillance planes have watched ever since as hundreds of Serbian flights violated the order. Cheney told the allies that using air power to stop it was not so much a military question as one requiring "political decisions about what you would hope to achieve."

Britain and France oppose shooting down Serbian planes for fear of bringing retribution on their peacekeeping troops in Bosnia. But officials in Washington predict that "an enforced no-fly is now inevitable." Eagleburger, who is to attend NATO meetings this week, will be putting it forward as a formal proposal. After much discussion, it is likely to be accepted.

Nor is it necessarily all that will be done. The State Department is discussing a "decision memo" to rescind the embargo on arms shipments to Bosnia's Muslims. Scowcroft may be leaning in that direction too. The Pentagon brass, which counts heavily in the process, opposes the idea. Once arms shipments begin, they fear, there will be calls for the U.S. to provide training for the newly armed fighters, which might mean American advisers on the ground -- and that would start the U.S. down the slippery slope. Still, says a senior official, "I could see both of those steps" -- enforcing the flight ban and ending the arms embargo -- "by the end of this Administration."

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