Flat Earth: Shaggy dog tale

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The Independent Online
I CAN'T wait to see the movie Wag the Dog, which opens this weekend: the tale of how a film-maker and a spin doctor rescue a President from a sex scandal, it is said to be uncannily prescient. They have even managed to work in some last-minute digital stills of a Monica Lewinsky lookalike.

In the film the media manipulators successfully distract the press and the networks from domestic affairs by fabricating a war with Albania, but the Balkan nation's Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, is unruffled. "Since the beginning of the century we have had a close partnership with the US," he said last week (funny, I don't remember much closeness when Enver Hoxha ran the place as a Maoist dictatorship)"and probably the people there chose this national reference because it will never happen."

But maybe the PM shouldn't be so confident that life won't imitate art. In Rome the other day the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was warning that she would not tolerate Serbs oppressing the Albanian majority in Kosovo, a development that threatens to set off another Balkans war. Armed intervention could not be ruled out, she said.

The chances of voters allowing the US to get involved in a real Balkan conflict are pretty remote, and even if it were to happen American soldiers would be fighting on the side of Albania rather than against it, but Wag the Dog is again getting a bit too close for comfort.