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Forget the sideshow of Monica Lewinsky. It’s time for Americans to
consider whether Bill Clinton is the man they want in the White House as
the world plunges into the brink of political, social, ethnic, religious
and economic upheaval.

Here are just a few of the hot spots:

The failure of the Russian economy: Moscow has experimented with
the rule of law and democratic rule. But, at best, it has been a brief
and chaotic test. Would you want to bet your life on the fact that this
nuclear power will not revert to totalitarianism and expansionism in the
years ahead? I wouldn’t. Remember, Russia also experimented with
democracy before Lenin’s Communist revolution. When the bailout checks
stop, where will Moscow turn?

The rise of terrorism: The feeble and misguided cruise-missile
attacks against targets in Afghanistan and Sudan are bound to lead to an
escalation of Islamic terror against the West. In an age of
suitcase-size nuclear weapons, the threat to Americans is real and
predictable. There is virtually no defense against it. The attacks could
come anywhere, anytime — not just in remote embassies, but in American
cities.

Iran’s move toward Afghanistan: Right this minute, Iran is massing
troops along the border of Afghanistan. No one is certain where this
will lead. But Tehran’s Islamic regime doesn’t like its neighbor’s
Taleban brand of Islamic fundamentalism. Furthermore, Iran is closely
allied with Russia, which fought a long, bloody war in Afghanistan.

The resurrection of Saddam Hussein: Iraq has stood up to arms
inspectors, and the United Nations and United States blinked. Does
anyone need to be reminded of Saddam Hussein’s unquenchable thirst for
the limelight and global confrontation?

The instability of central Africa: The renewed fighting in the
Congo threatens to provoke intervention by neighbors Angola, Zimbabwe,
Uganda and Rwanda.

A wider Balkans conflict: Serbian forces have pushed their
offensive against the Kosovo Liberation Army. The fighting could spread
at a moment’s notice into Macedonia and Albania. U.S. troops are on the
ground in the area acting as U.N. policemen.

The grudge match in central Asia: India and Pakistan, two neighbors
in a life-and-death blood feud, are rushing headlong into the nuclear
arms race.

The conflict in Cyprus: Russia is planning to deliver S-300
air-defense missiles to Cyprus at the end of this month. Turkey has
pledged to go to war to prevent such a delivery.

Israel and the Palestinians: Yasser Arafat is threatening to
declare an independent Palestinian state in May 1999. Israel says it
will be forced to annex territory in response.

North Korean threat: North Korea has one of the largest standing
armies in the world and is always a threat to invade the south. The U.S.
has tens of thousands of troops on the ground and would be the first
target of an invasion plan. The fact that its population is starving by
the millions only complicates matters. Now Pyong-yang says it may
test-fire yet another missile over Japan.

The U.S. economy in crisis: With the Asian and Russian economies
falling like dominoes, the American economic boom appears to be on the
verge of failing. Whether it’s a mild recession or worse, the good times
are coming to an end.

China and Taiwan: Beijing’s No. 1 preoccupation is reunification
with Taiwan. It is practicing diplomatic isolation now, but planning
military destabilization later. How much later, no one knows.

The Y2K crisis: The countdown to the unknown is just 15 months
away. The computer glitch could be a major headache or an end to
civilization as we know it. Take your pick. Meanwhile, the U.S.
government is quietly planning for the worst — preparing to institute
martial law, if necessary, to preserve order and consolidate power.

There are many more potential flashpoints. All of them are made more
dangerous by the vacuum of moral leadership and the lack of commitment
to principles and ideals that made America a shining city on a hill.

It’s time for Americans to get a grip. Bill Clinton is not up to this
job. Forget Monica Lewinsky. That is a tempest in a teapot. It is merely
a symptom of a much bigger problem facing this country and the world.

Clinton promised to build a bridge to the 21st century. After nearly
six years, it’s time to ask: Where’s the bridge? Hey, for that matter,
where are the plans? Do they include all these landmines?

Does anyone still believe this contractor is up to the job?

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