Peace Time: November 13, 1999

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President Clinton and US ambassador to the UN Holbrooke are campaigning hard for the $1 billion needed to pay the US's back dues to the world body, but it is a tough sell against a Republican-controlled Congress with no love lost for the UN. While the media and pundits highlight the campaign by a few conservatives to link US payments to anti-abortion rules for UN panels, the real battle is elsewhere. The Congress wants the US share of the budget cut from 25% to 20% (a long-held goal that President Clinton has all but abandoned), and only Western Europe and Japan have the surplus cash to make up the shortfall. Moreover, the US wants to count "in kind" payments (e.g., the use of US military air transports, another long-held goal President Clinton does not consider a priority) as part of the payments, instead of the current practice of donating these services over and above the cash dues. Even worse, Congress wants a top-to-bottom reorganization of the UN, eliminating duplication and wasteful make-work jobs, which could cut the UN payroll by 20-30%. This outrages the Third World, which views the UN as a good place to send out-of-work politicians to pick up fat paychecks and bring the money back home.--Stephen V Cole 

To keep its pilots in uniform, Sweden is radically increasing their pay. A 27-year-old lieutenant rated as a combat fighter pilot used to make $3057 per month but will now make $4647. Sweden has just commissioned its second Gryphon fighter squadron (F10), and pilots for the third squadron are in training. The Swedish Air Force has received 78 of the 204 Gryphons on order.--Stephen V Cole

 


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