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THINK TANK SLAPS WEST’S FAILURE TO ACT

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President Clinton's "uncertain" foreign policy and the West's focus on recessions at home are key factors in the world's failure to act effectively in post-Cold War trouble spots, an independent think tank said Monday.

"Without action from the great powers, nothing significant happens," The International Institute for Strategic Studies said in its annual report.The "strategic arthritis" allows bloodshed and political instability to fester in such countries as Bosnia, Somalia and Haiti, it said.

The institute also warned of dangerous implications of Russia's recent forays onto the world stage, particularly in the Balkans and former Soviet republics.

The institute's annual report, which also lists countries' military strength, is studied by defense forces around the world.

The 1993-94 Strategic Survey said global inaction came as a recession in many parts of the world made Western governments focus on domestic economic troubles.

Clinton policy `a mess'

The institute described Clinton's foreign policy as "a mess."

"The United States, even more than usual, does not seem to be following a steady compass," it said. "President Clinton, however clear and straightforward his views on domestic affairs, has been blowing a very uncertain foreign-policy trumpet."

In particular, the report criticized his steps to seek "security guarantees" before U.S. troops would be sent to world trouble spots.

The U.S. pullout from Somalia - after more than 30 American deaths - left the African country "perhaps somewhat better off than it was before but not as good as it should have been," the survey said, while "the dubious U.S. policy toward Haiti has left that country probably worse than it had been."

On a few occasions, the institute said, the world's "strategic arthritis" was alleviated by a brief bout of "shock therapy."

A mortar shell in a market in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, led to a NATO ultimatum against further violence there, and a massacre in Israeli-occupied Hebron led to a renewed push to implement the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, it noted.

Reinvigorated Russia

The institute also said the international community must "have doubts concerning a reinvigorated Russian role."

Russia's diplomatic intervention in Bosnia on the side of the Serbs has given Moscow "a degree of influence in the former Yugoslavia that it has not had since Stalin lost control there in 1948.

"More worrying is the reassertion of Russian nationalist zeal toward what it calls the `near abroad' and, to a lesser extent, Central Europe," it said.

"As used by Russians, the term `near abroad' has particularly dangerous implications. It indicates that Moscow does not accept the states that rose from the rubble of the Soviet Union as fully independent entities."