THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT,
CLARENCE PAGE, AND LAURA SILBER
TAPED FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 1999
AIRED THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 17-18, 1999
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Balkans getting bloodier.
Kosovo is exploding. On Wednesday NATO forces mistakenly bombed an Albanian Kosovar refugee convoy, killing scores of civilians. And in combination with an earlier bombing of a civilian passenger train, as well as hundreds of other Serb civilian casualties, this may have cost NATO the moral high ground.
Yet NATO presses on with its bombing onslaught, still determined to force Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces, let the refugees go back tot their homes, and agree to an international protective force in Kosovo.
But will those aims be achieved? The situation on the ground suggests otherwise.
One, U.S. adds more firepower. Three hundred additional warplanes, bringing the total to 1,000 for NATO; 24 to 48 Apache helicopters, with 2,600 U.S. troops for support; the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, with its flotilla of escort ships, denuding the coastal waters of Japan, Taiwan, and the Koreas of its protection and monitoring; 30,000-plus reservists will likely be called up.
As for the Serbs, they have 40,000 troops in Kosovo, dug in, mining borders, making incursions into Albania to combat KLA forces in their staging areas.
Two, demand for U.S. ground troops grows. President Clinton had ruled them out repeatedly and emphatically. Now he's saying troops are an option. And 62 percent of the public now supports their entry. Air power alone is not working, and the refugee situation is atrocious -- so now, ground troops.
But ground troops also mean casualties, probably heavy casualties. Some say 1,500; others say that's a minimum figure.
Question: Years of intense bombing in Vietnam did not bend Hanoi's will. Is there good reason to expect anything different from the mission creep now going on? Is Clark, in other words, following in the footsteps of Westmoreland, Laura Silber? Welcome, and it's a pleasure to have you with us. You lived in the Balkans for a number of years?
MS. SILBER: Ten years.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Ten years, as a reporter?
MS. SILBER: As a reporter. And Clark isn't Westmoreland. What we have here is we're redefining our goals, but I think the ultimate goal has been the same from the beginning to the end, and that's getting a stable peace in the Balkans. We've invested a lot so far in Bosnia and before, and we've got to ensure stability in the region.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, my question was addressed to mission creep. Certainly there is mission creep, as happened in Hanoi, in Vietnam. We started out with limited bombing, now it's massive bombing and now the call is out to get rid of Milosevic. So there's mission creep. There's that correspondence between the two, would you not say?
MS. SILBER: I'm not sure it's exactly mission creep. I think we do have a certain difference of opinion, maybe amongst the various government organs, but I mean -- say, the Pentagon, NATO, and the State Department may think something differently -- but I wouldn't call it mission creep yet.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. You sound like Clinton.
MS. SILBER: Not quite.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, first of all, John, I want to congratulate you for having someone in this seat I can finally agree with. Welcome. (Laughter.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This may not last through the whole program.
MS. CLIFT: Well, we'll see. First of all, its worst-case scenario, if Milosevic does decide he can ride out the entire air assault, at some point his army is going to be depleted and exhausted and that "permissive environment," the euphemism that the administration uses, will at some point come into being in Kosovo. There will be ground troops, but I don't think they're going to go in there in an open combat situation, but to basically escort the refugees in or to put down the remainder of the Serbian troops.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, maybe not an open combat situation, but this week the government placed an order with a West Virginia company for 27,000 body bags.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look -- look, obviously there's mission creep --
MS. CLIFT: No, 27,000 dollars' worth, I think.
MR. BLANKLEY: Wait a second. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, when this started, said it was going to be over quickly. That was on national television. Now they're talking about a bombing campaign for six months and now the supporters are talking about ground campaigns. Of course there's mission creep. The only question is whether the Serbs are as tough and tenacious as the Vietnamese are. That's the question --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The yardstick keeps changing, Clarence, don't you think?
MR. PAGE: No question. John, there's no question that Serbs are as tough as the Vietnamese. Just ask -- look what they did with Hitler's Wermacht -- the Germans rolled in, took them a few days, but then never really won Yugoslavia. They lost an estimated 70,000 men. That's why I do not want to see us put ground troops in there. I do see mission creep, very much like Vietnam. Madeleine Albright initially -- we went in there -- there was no expectation of the kind of refugee crisis we've got now. The problem is the power policy, which was based on the lessons of Vietnam, has been thrown out the window: overwhelming force, a clear goal, and a clear exit strategy. We don't have any of those things. Just to say we want stability in the region, unfortunately, is not enough. We don't have -- we really just don't know how we're going to bring that about.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the costs of the war? I note by the numbers here $2.5 billion to date; $2.5 billion, according to the CBO; $10 billion to $15 billion for the air only charges up ahead, and another $15 billion if U.S. ground troops are put in. That's, I believe, for the first year.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, that means that the surplus will go to Kosovo. That means that Social Security is paying for Kosovo.
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, we are saving Kosovo first instead of saving Social Security first, as the president used to like to say.
This is a cost that can go way out of -- a billion dollars a month for the air campaign, $30,000 a month per soldier there. This can run into the tens of billions very quickly.
MS. CLIFT: The financial costs --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly!
MS. CLIFT: The financial costs are real. But I hope we don't get to the day when we weigh our foreign policy against how -- the dollars that it's going to cost.
MR. PAGE: But of course we do. Of course we do.
MR. BLANKLEY: Spoken like a true liberal!
MS. CLIFT: The cost to our moral -- the cost to our moral conscience of standing by and not doing anything is the situation.
MR. BLANKLEY: Right.
MR. PAGE: Let's have that honest debate. The public does support this war on humanitarian grounds. This is not a national security issue, it's a humanitarian issue for the post-Cold War. Is it worth it? Are we willing to sacrifice saving Social Security right away in order to help --
MS. CLIFT: It's not either/or. Social Security -- folks, you're going to get your Social Security checks. It's not either/or.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And of course the massive outflux of the Albanian Kosovars was precipitated by the NATO strikes. So don't you have yourself in a vicious, vicious circle?
MS. CLIFT: People who have watched Mr. Milosevic -- and you're one of them -- know he was planning this exodus and this extermination of a people. That was under way, it was going on in slow motion. Right, that's true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But the OSCE troops were pulled out -- the peacekeepers -- number one. The CNN cameras were pulled out, number two. NATO struck, number three. And then the massive exodus went out.
Which leads into this: Okay, propaganda. Paul Watson, of the L.A. Times, on the ground in Kosovo, in a series of expert articles, Monday in this past week's L.A. Times, reported on a subject that has been sorely underpublicized, not the disinformation of Serbia, but the disinformation of NATO.
PAUL WATSON (Los Angeles Times correspondent): (From audio tape.) I have been able to talk to some refugees, including people who were severely traumatized by this NATO airstrike west of the town of Djakovica yesterday, who in very clear terms said that they had left the town of Junik to escape what they said was NATO bombing. From where we stood, we could feel the reverberations from -- every few minutes at their peak. We, as journalists and as people watching this from many different angles, should be skeptical about both sides in this conflict. Some of these allegations which are being made have credibility; some of them do not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: The first casualty of war is truth. Psychological operations, psych ops, through disinformation, is an old trick of the war trade. Is Paul Watson right? Should we as a people, especially the press, watch this from many different angles, and should we treat NATO information -- NATO information -- as skeptically as we treat Serbian information? I ask you.
MS. SILBER: Absolutely. I think here the Serbs and the Albanians -- equal percentage of devils and angels. I think neither side all good or all bad. We can't argue that the bulk of the force is on the Serbian side. The Albanians also have the KLA, the Kosovo Liberation Army. They have committed atrocities as well, albeit in a smaller number. But they've done atrocities against the Albanians who didn't agree with them and against the Serbs.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this propaganda? An item in Friday's paper, several Friday's paper -- "dirty nukes" -- a nuclear and chemical weapons plant near Belgrade, and the Pentagon has ordered NATO not to strike there, because of the dangers. A dirty nuke is a conventional weapon tipped with radioactive components and chemical weapons like sarin and mustard gas. And does that show that there is mission creep going on, particularly on the Serb side?
MS. SILBER: It has nothing to do with mission creep, but it's possible there is a chemical weapons plant. You have a highly educated populace that would surely be capable of creating it -- I mean, in terms of some engineers. I don't know; I had never heard of its existence before.
MR. PAGE (?): Well, it's important to our strategy, though.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, that was an hysterical story.
MR. PAGE (?): Right.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, there is a civilian area with nuclear capability in Serbia. We're not going to bomb it. It would be against the Geneva Convention, for one thing. Secondly, why would the Serbs want to coat regular bombs with radioactive fission material? They wouldn't kill anybody; they'd make people sick. They'd poison the ground --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, this goes -- this is the conundrum we're in right now --
MS. CLIFT: It doesn't make sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I happen to believe Bill Gertz, who wrote that story for the Washington Times. He's an excellent reporter. It has also appeared elsewhere.
MR. BLANKLEY: I was told a couple of weeks ago by an American intelligence source that there was some concern -- it was not -- they were not positive; there was some concern of the potentiality of a nuclear component to Serbian attack.
MS. SILBER: I don't believe it. I don't believe it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question --
MR. BLANKLEY: And Gertz gets an awful lot of information from the CIA.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We got to get out. What percentage of NATO briefings are pure propaganda, as opposed to true and accurate information? Give me a percentage, Laura Silber.
MS. SILBER: Sixty.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty percent is true?
MS. SILBER: Yes --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty percent false?
MS. SILBER: Sixty percent true.
MS. CLIFT: First of all, on this set, NATO information is treated a lot more skeptically than Serbian propaganda. Secondly, the fact that NATO put out the tape of the pilot who mistakenly bombed the civilians shows that there is an effort to put out the truth.
But everybody puts the best face on war, both sides.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you go.
MR. BLANKLEY: I think that NATO and the Pentagon tend to, more by omission than by straight-out lying.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Fine. Now what's the percentage of NATO information can we believe?
MR. BLANKLEY: I'd say about 70 percent.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Seventy percent?
MR. PAGE: John, I was a public information specialist in the Army, and I can tell you that you were right before; the first casualty is the truth, and that's always the case. Just like the other day, when we were denying that we bombed refugees -- the next day, it turned out, well, we did bomb refugees.
MS. SILBER: Right.
MR. PAGE: You got to gauge truth by time --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. My --
MR. PAGE: -- because initially you're always going to have a lot of false information going out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How much -- what percentage do you think we can believe, coming out of NATO?
MR. PAGE: It depends on the day, John. You see -- about 60 percent on any given day --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Sixty percent. You're absolutely right.
MR. PAGE: They'll get caught up on this day to day.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hit it right on the nose.
When we come back, the six-point McLaughlin Plan to wind down this war.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
WILLIAM COHEN (U.S. secretary of defense): (From videotape.) We will reject any settlement that freezes the result of Milosevic's genocide and rewards him for his brutality.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) If we settle for half-measures from Mr. Milosevic, we will get nothing more. And what we have from Mr. Milosevic today is not even partial compliance, but the illusion of partial compliance. We and our allies have properly rejected it.
JOE LOCKHART (White House press secretary): (From videotape.) I would reject the idea that there's some sort of proposal out there for a bombing pause independent of anything else happening.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The bombing of Yugoslavia began almost a month ago, and since then NATO has rejected out of hand any possible route to a political settlement. First, Washington rejected a six-day religious cease-fire proposed by Milosevic. Then it rejected a German plan for a 24-hour bombing halt to permit a Yugoslav troop withdrawal from Kosovo. It seems to many that NATO is more concerned with winning a face-saving military victory or two on the threshold of next weekend's 50th NATO anniversary extravaganza in Washington than working towards a political solution. But the daily horror stories coming out of Kosovo, both Serbian and NATO in origin, are beginning to prompt other voices to be heard.
KOFI ANNAN (U.N. secretary-general): (From videotape.) I'm extremely sorry about the tragedy, and this is one more reason why we must intensify our effort to find a political solution.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As for a political solution, I've culled ideas from sources in the United States and Europe in play today as a basis for a political solution. We'll call it the McLaughlin Plan.
One, get the U.N. into the act. Because of the refugee crisis, the U.N. has a perfect mandate, through the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, to get more into the game. Let Kofi Annan lead the U.N. delegation to try to work out terms with Milosevic.
Two, stop the bombing. It can always be resumed. From a standpoint of sending a clear message to Milosevic about the cost of opposing a peace plan, the mission is accomplished. More bombing does no more good, but it does help solidify domestic support for Milosevic, and that makes it easier for him to oppose us.
Three, get the Russians into the act. As part of the settlement of the Bosnian conflict, Russian military peacekeepers have been working alongside the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division, with excellent results. Invite Viktor Chernomyrdin into the U.N.-led effort to secure terms with Milosevic. Four, nix the talk of Milosevic as a war criminal. Get The Hague out of the act, unless we're willing to prosecute KLA leaders and their Albanian military suppliers for acts of international terrorism. Eliminate the talk of going after Milosevic and his generals. Get this off the table.
Five, put everything else on the table. We need the U.N., including the Russians under U.N. auspices, to work out a long-term settlement for Kosovo. That means that all options should fall under the review of this eminent body. That includes A), the partition of Kosovo, the north to Serbia, the south to a sovereign Kosovar state; and B), a resolution which permits the Kosovars to return to their new sovereign state under security guaranteed by Russia and international peacekeeping teams.
Six, help the new Kosovar state through a customized martial plan of economic aid for rebuilding that war-torn state. And above all, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. The U.S. and NATO did an end-run around the United Nations, violating international law and the NATO charter. At a minimum, the U.N. should now be brought back, formally and centrally, into the resolution of this calamitous blunder. If we stay on the military track, we are headed into a firestorm of endless horrors.
Okay, the plan. One, get the U.N. into the act. Clarence Page?
MR. PAGE: John, I think your brilliant staff has served you well with this plan -- it has signs of the kind of consensus I see emerging, although I have more faith, frankly, in the Russian back channel than the U.N. front channel. I think Chernomyrdin has a close personal relationship with Milosevic, which is what we've got to depend on now, because I think we've been too public, frankly. So far, we've told Milosevic too much of what we're willing to do, what we're not willing to do, and that's why we've got to move to the negotiating table and away from the battlefield.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know that NATO itself cannot negotiate with Milosevic. It's out of the question. The U.N. is the perfect forum to do it. Would you not agree?
MS. SILBER: Well, sure. You can have the U.N. negotiate, but the U.N. is going to be hamstrung by differences between the Russians and the Americans, and so the U.N. itself can't do anything.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Russians soften Milosevic up, don't you understand? They're linked, they love each other.
MS. SILBER: They do not.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Serbs and the Russians by reasons of religion and ethnicity.
MS. SILBER: That relationship is totally overstated. It's not true; as a matter of fact, a Serbian official told me he wants to see the Yeltsin government overthrown so that there could be another world war. That's what Milosevic is banking on.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that's one person. He could have been a crank.
MS. SILBER: Absolutely not.
MR. PAGE: But that is the Serbs' satisfaction --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He could have been a crank.
MS. SILBER: Absolutely not.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. PAGE: But the Serbs' satisfaction --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look, I want to hear from Tony.
MR. PAGE: -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly, quickly. We have got to get out.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I am not necessarily against your plan. But understand that it is --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the U.N.? I thought you were against the U.N.?
MR. BLANKLEY: It is fitting the president for a fig leaf. If we don't beat Milosevic militarily, and I don't think we will, then he is going to be a winner out of these negotiations. That may be the only path. But understand that this is going to be a comedown for America anyhow.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He can be a winner if they negotiate out, and if they give sovereignty to the Kosovars.
MS. CLIFT: You know, the only way that Kofi Annan gets into the act -- if he is a messenger for NATO. The U.N. is not going to settle this. The Russians have got to be involved. Clarence is exactly right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.
Stop the bombing. What about that? Do you want to speak to that? Laura.
MS. SILBER: I think it is fine to stop the bombing. I think we'll never start it again, though. And if we want to keep the military pressure up, it is going to be very difficult to stop it.
MS. CLIFT: If you say no to the pope for an Easter bombing, you are not going to say yes to the Germans for a bombing. (Laughter.) It is unrealistic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Get the Russians into the act, we all agree on that.
MR. BLANKLEY: Right.
MR. PAGE: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. What is -- the fourth element in this plan is nix the talk of Milosevic as a war criminal. That is a tough one to swallow, would you not say?
MS. CLIFT: No --
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- it is not that tough. Parse Clinton's words this week. He has called Milosevic everything but a war criminal. And there is a reason why he is holding out, because to go to that level, means we can't negotiate with the guy because now he is a total pariah. I think we have got to leave those avenues open.
MS. SILBER: Sorry. Look at what happened in Bosnia. Once Karadzic was indicted as a war criminal, he disappeared from the political scene. We need to do that because, if Milosevic remains on the political scene, there will be no stability in the Balkans; there will be no peace.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, you could argue the exact opposite of that premise? that Milosevic is needed -- precisely, Milosevic -- to maintain an ecology of strategic equilibrium, just as an argument can be made that Saddam Hussein would hold Iran in check?
MS. CLIFT: Well, also --
MS. SILBER: I am sorry; you don't see that there.
MS. CLIFT: -- also, there is reality. We are not going to invade Belgrade. So Milosevic --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is what you think. That's what you think. You don't know where this is going to end.
MS. CLIFT: Trust me. We are not going to invade Belgrade.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. Number five.
MR. BLANKLEY (?): Here is the -- (inaudible ) -- question. (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Put everything else on the table, including a partition, a split in Kosovo. What do you think of that, Laura?
MS. SILBER: Only is you are ready to redraw the borders of Bosnia, of Macedonia, of Albania. Are you ready for that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you saying because those are a de facto partition -- right?
MS. SILBER: Right.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- that they will -- well, what is your point, that they will split off and form individual states?
MS. SILBER: The point is that --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what?
MS. SILBER: -- once we give -- if you were to give Kosovo independence, then Macedonia -- forget about Macedonia.
MR. BLANKLEY (?): Right.
MS. SILBER: And if you --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why? Why?
MS. SILBER: Because Macedonia has a very large ethnic Albanian population.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So they are necessarily going to unite?
MS. SILBER: Not necessarily; but, yes, it will happen.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So we can't do everything at once. Why don't we let the KLA, Eleanor's friends, over there --
MS. CLIFT: They are not my friends. I don't --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and hopefully, some political group in this new state --
MS. CLIFT: I don't --
MR. BLANKLEY: Look. Look --
MS. CLIFT: -- excuse me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to hold the state together and not to become extraterritorial?
MS. CLIFT: I do not support arming the KLA; I do not support an independent Kosovo. I think the most logical outcome is an international protectorate. We may have to settle for partition, which --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Look, there is no way --
MS. CLIFT: -- would reward Milosevic.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- there is no way that you can give partial autonomy to Kosovo and hope that the Serbs can maintain --
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- some kind of an umbrella relationship to that country.
MR. PAGE: We don't know that.
MR. BLANKLEY: -- come on. Come on.
MR. PAGE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. We don't know that, John. We don't know that.
MS. SILBER: What if you could do that?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It will never work.
MR. PAGE: (Inaudible) -- haven't really tried it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They hate each other!
MR. BLANKLEY: Once you start this Wilsonian remaking of maps based on ethnicities, you can't do it part way. We have to go a lot further than I think you and I want to go.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean in the Basque Country in Spain? You mean in --
MS. SILBER: In Central Asia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, that's nonsense.
MS. SILBER: Look at Central Asia.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. What's the toughest point for the American people to swallow among all those five points? The Marshall Plan, we all agree on.
MS. SILBER: Toughest point?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Milosevic not a war criminal?
MS. SILBER: I don't think the American public really cares about that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Note that I said nix the talk on Milosevic.
MS. CLIFT: I think the toughest thing is if this ends in a partition, because then Milosevic will get the mineral-rich portion of Kosovo, with the historical and religious sites, and --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't know that. You don't know how it's going to be redrawn.
MS. CLIFT: Well, you were just asking which I think is the hardest thing to --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We don't know what the dimensions are going to be. Furthermore, the Kosovars then have their yearned-for sovereignty.
MS. CLIFT: But it's got to be that or an international protectorate --(inaudible) -- promises better outcome.
MR. BLANKLEY: I honestly think the American public could accept any element of that as long as the issue would go away.
MR. PAGE: Right. That's true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exactly. We've got to get out of this calamitous blunder.
MR. PAGE: That's right, but that's a very big "if." We've got a very difficult map to draw over there, it's very true, and you've got to have defensible borders, not just borders that will please this --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right. We'll arrange all that, and you will get your approval, Clarence.
MR. PAGE: I hope you'll bring it to me -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Predictions. Laura.
MS. SILBER: Prediction: Ground troops in Kosovo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When?
MS. SILBER: A few months.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, I don't think so.
MS. CLIFT: To address the gender gap, Al Gore is putting women in high places in his campaign and will be talking more about early childhood education and pay equity.
MR. BLANKLEY: The European press will turn against this operation within the next few weeks.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good news.
MR. PAGE: I predict no ground troops unless it is to police an agreement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The NATO cohesion will begin unraveling within two weeks after next week's summit, which summit is serving to keep all 19 members in place. When that's over, watch for breakaways, and that means possibly and probably, since they each have veto, the end of air power.
®FC¯END REGULAR SEGMENT
®FL¯ PBS SEGMENT
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: A contemptible legacy. The record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the president responded by giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.
Clinton in contempt. That was the ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright this week regarding the president's conduct during the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit. Judge Wright's 32-page opinion cited specific examples of, quote, unquote, "intentionally false answers" like:
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: (From videotape.) I never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The civil contempt ruling brings more than a badge of shame to Mr. Clinton. The president must also pay Paula Jones, quote, "any reasonable expenses, including attorneys' fees," unquote. That's in addition to the $850,000 out-of-court settlement fee that Clinton agreed to pay Jones last September.
"Sanctions must be imposed not only to redress the president's misconduct, but to deter others who might themselves consider emulating the president of the United States," unquote, Judge Wright.
Also, perhaps most importantly, Arkansas state judicial authorities could disbar the president.
And how does the Wright ruling affect Kenneth Starr?
MR. : (From videotape.) Ken Starr will view this as a further sign that he ought to seriously consider indicting the president.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Starr says he has the authority to do so.
(Begin videotape segment.)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): Do you have jurisdiction to prosecute the president criminally after his term of office expires?
KENNETH STARR (Independent Counsel): Yes.
(End videotape segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: What's the impact of Susan Webber Wright's contempt citation on Clinton -- her former law professor, by the way -- and his legacy?
MS. CLIFT: It was an entirely appropriate ruling. And, frankly, if it had stood alone, apart from the impeachment fiasco, I think it would be a real stinging rebuke in history. As it is, it's a footnote to the impeachment proceeding.
And the judge had some remarks; she sympathized with the president's frustration at the political motivations of the people who got the case that far, and she also pointed out that even though he did not speak the truth, she would not have ruled any differently in throwing out the Paula Jones case as a case without merit.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree -- I agree in part with Eleanor. It is like the bite from a toothless dog --
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- because it should have come during the impeachment trial.
MR. BLANKLEY: Like the delayed Broaddrick rape charge broadcast interview, this comes at a time after the fact.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.
MR. BLANKLEY: It should have come when the Senate had a chance to judge it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will he be disbarred?
MR. BLANKLEY: No. It's Arkansas.
MR. PAGE: (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, exit question: Will Starr indict? Quickly! Yes or no.
MS. SILBER: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to add anything else? We haven't heard from you very much on this.
MS. SILBER: Well, I think it would be funny if he were to be disbarred, but he could remain president. I don't quite understand that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Will Starr indict?
MS. CLIFT: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.
Will Starr indict?
MR. BLANKLEY: No.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No.
Will Starr indict?
MR. PAGE: Who knows what Starr will do! (Laughs.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Come on, will you? Get in this game!
MR. PAGE: He might. He's crazy enough. I mean --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know he might! Get in the game, will you?
MR. PAGE: Yeah, he acts like -- (inaudible) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, I'll give you the answer. The answer is no. He's now sadder but wiser.