NATO's Rocky Road

NATO's Rocky Road

NATO's Rocky Road

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
April 28 1998 7:00 AM

NATO's Rocky Road

The LAT leads with the U.S. stating that finally, Iraq has really been cooperating with U.N. weapons monitoring efforts. The top national story at the NYT is the Senate's debate about widening NATO. The WP leads with the decision by federal corruption investigators to let Jimmy Hoffa's son, James P. Hoffa, run for the Teamsters presidency. USAT goes with the Treasury Department's launch of an investigation into the tactics of the IRS' criminal division.

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The American admission was made Monday at the U.N. by U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson, about inspections of Iraq's nuclear program and previously off-limits government buildings. But he went on to say that the U.S. continues to oppose any relaxation of economic sanctions on Iraq or in the U.N.'s weapons inspection program, citing, notes the LAT, Iraq's continuing insufficient cooperation in the areas of long-range missiles and chemical and biological weapons. This story also makes the fronts at USAT and the NYT, but the latter emphasizes the U.N.'s decision Monday night to extend sanctions despite Richardson's conciliatory remarks.

The nuances of the administration's thinking about sanctions are on display in a NYT front-page piece that depicts Bill Clinton at a White House meeting of Christian evangelical leaders, unaware that a Times reporter was there too. Clinton asked the group to withdraw its support for legislation aiming to reduce religious persecution overseas by imposing sanctions because he said such bills put enormous pressure on whoever is in the executive branch to fudge an evaluation of the facts of what is going on." The president needs flexibility, he said, including the ability to impose sanctions.

The NYT line on the NATO expansion discussion is that this is a quite important issue that wasn't receiving its due in the Senate until yesterday, when "after four hours of dueling monologues, however, something novel happened: Debate broke out." But judging by the Times examples, it wasn't exactly Lincoln-Douglas. There was Sen. Joseph Biden saying, "The worst time to enlarge an alliance is at a moment of threat. This is the time and the moment, nine years after the wall has come down, to end once and for all the artificial boundaries," with Sen. Robert Smith responding, "They picked winners and losers at Yalta. We are picking winners and losers here." (The Times helpfully explains that Biden is for expansion, Smith against.) And there's Sen. Jesse Helms' contribution: "The European Union could not fight its way out of a wet paper bag."

The LAT lead editorial sees the Senate in a "reckless rush" to approve NATO expansion, stating that supporters have pressed their case with slogans, not arguments. The NYT notes that ice cream mogul Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's is actively campaigning against expansion. In Thomas Friedman's column, Cohen explains why: Expanding NATO would be like Ben and Jerry's still wanting to drive Haagen-Dazs out of business even if H-D had switched to making hot dogs. The problem here is that Russia hasn't gotten rid of its, er.ice cream machines.

The reader who makes it down to the fifteenth paragraph of the WP lead gets schooled on what it means to be a clean Teamster. That's where it says that the federal investigator who gave Hoffa the green light fined him and several of his running mates in the last union election more than $40,000 for receiving improper campaign contributions, and held that Hoffa "did not testify accurately" about his personal involvement in the preparation of campaign finance reports. By contrast, the NYT, in its front-page Teamsters story, broaches this point in the first paragraph, and observes in the fourth paragraph that as a result of the negative findings about Hoffa, neither side in the upcoming Teamsters election can run as an untainted reform candidate.

The WSJ "Work Week" column notes that the machinists union has licensed a special collector's item for its 110th anniversary: a Winchester Model 94 rifle. Wait till the postal workers union hears about this.

That NYT piece that caught Bill Clinton speaking off the cuff about sanctions also includes his confession that late at night he often gets a call from Chelsea asking him about some item from the next day's paper that she's read on the Internet, but that he knows nothing about. Mr. President, may "Today's Papers" humbly suggest."Today's Papers"?