Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 6  Num. 40
                    ("Quid coniuratio est?")

THE UNITED STATES SHOULD STAY OUT OF THE BAFFLING BOSNIAN CONFLICT (House of Representatives - October 30, 1995) [This and other documents available via world wide web and/or lynx at]

[Page: H11381]

Mr. HORN. Mr. Speaker, it is the time in a Presidential term when, whether Republican or Democrat, Presidents and their advisers begin to think about major feats that might be accomplished in foreign affairs. Sometimes, there are achievements. Often, it is mostly symbolism. It is much easier than staying in town and relating to Congress.

Some Presidents have seen themselves as Franklin Roosevelt, with cape flying, standing on the bridge of a naval vessel in the North Atlantic. Others have seen themselves as Winston Churchill, the lone voice alerting the world to the rising power of Adolf Hitler and the danger to all Europe in the mid-1930's.

Sometimes our Presidents are right, but sometimes they are very, very wrong.

If I were to give advice to our current President, I would ask him to read the brilliant memoir of General Colin Powell. The General provides some very wise advice in `My American Journey.' At page 291 he says:

What I saw from my perch in the Pentagon was America sticking its hand into a thousand-year-old hornet's nest with the expectation that our mere presence might pacify the hornets.

In 1991, when `well-meaning Americans thought we should do something in Bosnia,' General Powell remembered `the shattered bodies of Marines at the Beirut airport,' and he argued `for caution.'

At pages 291 and 292, he comments:

Foreign policy cannot be paralyzed by the prospect of casualties. But lives must not be risked until we can face a parent or a spouse or a child with a clear answer to the question of why a member of that family had to die. To provide a `symbol' or a `presence', the General added, `is not good enough.'

Those are wise words.

Where is the defined mission of American forces in Bosnia? Many of us have argued for years--under two Presidents of the United States, one of each party--for lifting the arms embargo and letting the Bosnians fight for their own freedom. That has not been done.

Our executive and legislative energies should be on the major problems we have. The major problem where the American interest is directly affected is the world's remaining superpower, which is the Soviet Union, now the former Soviet states, now Russia. That is the country that should occupy our interest in relation to NATO, in relation to ties to the West in the years ahead. if we fail in that, all else we do will be for naught.

At page 577, General Powell says:

'No American President could defend to the American people the heavy sacrifice of lives it would cost to resolve this baffling conflict, the Bosnian baffling conflict. Nor could a President likely sustain long-term involvement necessary to keep the protagonists from going at each other's throats all over again at the first opportunity. American GI's are not toy soldiers,' Powell observed, 'to be moved around on some sort of global game board.'

We have to ask, where is the American interest? What are our objectives? What are our tactics? Are they worth endangering American lives?

Mr. Speaker, I say it is not worth endangering American lives, even though we can all grieve for the tragedies we see in the former Yugoslavia, in Bosnia. But when Bosnians are willing to pretend to be Serbs and Croatians are willing to pretend to be Serbs and Bosnians and Serbs pretending to be Croatians and Bosnians, it would be rather confusing to send American troops into that chaotic situation. And we must not do it.

Mr. Speaker, the article of Charles Krauthammer this last Friday in the Washington Post entitled `Clinton's Folly' also provides quite a bit of wisdom on this subject.

Mr. Speaker, I include the article for the Record, as follows:


Clinton's Folly


The first law of peacekeeping is that when you have real peace, you don't need peacekeepers. When both parties are in military equilibrium and have no intention of fighting each other--Israel and Egypt, for example--peacekeepers are nice to have around but they are mere window dressing.

The second law of peacekeeping is that where there is no peace, sending peacekeepers is a disaster. When the parties remained unreconciled--as in Beirut and Somalia, for example--peacekeepers simply become targets.

The third law of peacekeeping is that Americans make the best targets. If you are unhappy with the imposed peace, there is nothing like blowing up 241 Marines or killing 18 U.S. Army Rangers to make your point. Killing Americans is a faster way to victory than killing your traditional enemy.

From which follows one of the rare absolutes in foreign policy: Never send peacekeepers--and certainly never send American peacekeepers--to police a continuing, unsettled war. Yet President Clinton long ago committed the United States to sending 25,000 peacekeeping troops to police a Bosnian peace.

He made this offer in his usual foreign policy way: unreflective offhandedness in the service of expediency. And now, as a Bosnian agreement of sorts approaches, his bluff is about to be called. Must the country go along with his folly?

If in the coming peace talks at an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, Richard Holbrooke can manage to get the Serbs, the Croats and the Bosnians to agree to a real peace--one they will be satisfied with and truly respect--that would be wonderful. But why would we need Americans to police such a peace? Such a peace could be policed by Fijians or Pakistanis or Canadians wearing U.N. blue helmets or some other multinational attire.

Why are the Bosnians demanding American ground troops instead? Because none of the three vengeful, irredentist parties expects anything resembling a real peace. They are not even pretending. Croatia, for example, announced just Tuesday that if it does not get Eastern Slavonia it will go to war with Serbia at the end of November to get it.

At Dayton, the parties may grudgingly sign on to a `peace' that all know will amount to a limited, temporary cessation of hostilities--a hiatus long enough to allow the quick interposition of heavily armed NATO and American ground troops. And then what?

And then, insanely, we have made ourselves parties to the conflict. There will be no avoiding it.

'Whom are we going to fight?' Congress asked administration spokesmen at hearings last week. The administration answer: just rogue elements of the different militias who might violate the agreements their political leaders had signed. But if any of the three parties sent regular troops against us, we would presumably just give up and get out.

As if giving up and getting out can be accomplished without needless casualties, self-inflicted humiliation and grave tensions with allies who might be left behind. And as if the job of housebreaking overambitious `rogue' militias is the job of the U.S. Army and not of the Balkan parties' own political and military leadership.

And what kind of neutrality--the one indispensable for any peacekeepers--are we bringing to the conflict? Our sympathies for the Bosnian government side are pretty obvious, particularly to the Serbs who have been on the receiving end of NATO air strikes and U.S. Navy cruise missiles. Even more absurd, the administration intends to simultaneously `peace-keep' and arm and train the Muslims.

Let's be clear: U.S. troops will be in Bosnia not to peacekeep but to protect the Bosnian government side. Our job will be to serve as human tripwires for the Bosnians. If Serbs or Croats move against the Bosnians, they will henceforth have to roll over the bodies of Americans first--and risk involving the United States even more heavily on the side of the Sarajevo government.

Bosnia is about to see the transformation of an impotent UNPROFOR (U.N. Protection Force) into a heavily armed USPROFOR (U.S. protection force). And the administration knows it. Secretary of Defense William Perry boasts that our force in Bosnia will be `the meanest dog in town.' But real peacekeepers are not supposed to be mean dogs. Real peacekeepers, like the ones in Sinai or Cyprus, are warm puppies. Their job is to carry binoculars and smile and reassure everyone. You send heavily armed infantry when you are going to protect and enforce.

It is hard to think of a greater folly than trying to enforce a peace among unreconciled Balkan enemies. It is a folly that Clinton's fitful meanderings on Bosnia have backed us into, a folly that must be firmly rejected now before it is too late.

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