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U.S. Department of State
93/08/11 Interview with Roger Mudd, "MacNeil/Lehrer"
Office of the Spokesman



                                            INTERVIEW OF
                       SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
                                                     BY
                      MR. ROGER MUDD, "MACNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR"

                                           Washington, D.C.
                                             August 11, 1993


MR. ROGER MUDD:  First tonight, a "Newsmaker" interview with
Secretary of State Warren Christopher.  He's just back from the
Middle East and a stop in Europe to review NATO plans for air
strikes in Bosnia, and he's come back to find Somalia also on
his diplomatic platter.

Good evening, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good evening, Roger.

MR. MUDD:  You heard the announcement of General Shalikashvili
to be the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  What do
you know about him?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I'm delighted.  Actually, I talked
to him last Friday afternoon in Aviano.  He was there to give me
a briefing on the possible plans for air strikes against Bosnia.
 He's deeply into that problem, and I think he's an excellent
choice.

He's just the right man for the kinds of problems we face today.
 I think the President made a fine choice, and I'll look forward
to working with him.

MR. MUDD:  Why is he the right man?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, he has had a good deal of
experience with the kinds of problems we're likely to face --
peacekeeping problems, problems with ethnicity.  He really
brings to it a wide experience -- for example, the way he dealt
with the problems of the Kurds in Iraq is a good sign for his
ability to deal with the very complex problems we have to deal
with in this post-Cold War period.

MR. MUDD:  Well, I'm sure you know already that your Spokesman,
Mr. McCurry, said that -- you heard him on our broadcast --
saying that continued occupation of the two mountains
overlooking Sarajevo would, in fact, trigger air strikes.

Does that mean there's now a deadline for their evacuation?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, those two mountains are very
important to the survival of Sarajevo.  The real test is whether
or not Sarajevo is going to be strangled by the Serbs.  They've
been in this process of strangulation, and these two mountains
give them a very key fix on Sarajevo.  I think it was quite
understandable that President Izetbegovic said that he would not
go back to the negotiating table until these mountains were
vacated by the Serbs.

I think that will be a good test as to whether or not the Serbs
are serious -- take us seriously that they're going to have to
stop the strangulation of Sarajevo.

Now, it is a broader situation.  Just vacating those two
mountains will not, by itself, nearly be enough.  The question
is:  Can the humanitarian aid get through?  Will they cease
trying to strangle Sarajevo?  We'll be looking at the whole
situation.

MR. MUDD:  But is there a deadline?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, the negotiators and President
Izetbegovic said that unless they left by tomorrow morning, the
negotiations would not begin.  We've not given them a particular
deadline for getting off the mountains, but I must say, Roger,
I've asked to have daily and sometimes hourly reports on the
situation there as to whether or not the siege of Sarajevo is
being broken by the Serbs drawing back.  We'll be watching that
very carefully, be reporting to our allies on what our
intelligence is.

As I say, I don't want to fix a precise time deadline, but it's
the kind of situation where that's a very significant event to
us as to whether they give up those mountaintops which have such
a commanding position with respect to Sarajevo.

MR. MUDD:  But it just seems forever that you've been playing
cat and mouse with the Bosnian Serbs, doesn't it?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, we certainly have watched their
technique.  I think we've learned something from it.  They're
very manipulative, and we're not going to be manipulated in the
future.  We're going to really hold them to a very high
standard.

You probably heard the question and answer with General
Shalikashvili.  He indicated it's really up to the Serbs as to
whether or not NATO is going to have to take some action.  We
prefer not, but we're certainly ready to do so unless there's a
better condition in Sarajevo than exists at the present time.

MR. MUDD:  How far will they have to pull back off those
mountainsides?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, they have to come down off the
mountains.  But, most of all, I want to give you the real test,
and that is whether or not they'll break the siege of Sarajevo;
that they'll let conditions improve within that city, so the
city is not under the constant threat of being strangled.  Those
two mountaintops are only symbols of the strangulation of
Sarajevo by the Serbs.

MR. MUDD:  I have read and re-read, as many times as I've had
the time to, the conditions on the NATO air strikes.  And, as I
read it, NATO would set the target and the mission.  Then the
U.N. commander on the ground would approve the targets.  Then
the NATO Council would check with all the 16 allies, and they'd
have to sign off.  And then Boutros-Ghali at the U.N. would
presumably take it to the Security Council, and after they
approved, then he would check off.

If I may say so, that sounds like a goofy policy.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think it's a goofy policy at
all.  Let me put this in a little context for you, Roger.  Look
what's happened over the last two weeks.  It was only about two
weeks ago that the President wrote our 16 NATO allies -- and I
followed up with a much longer memorandum -- laying out what our
new policy would be.

Within that two-week period, we've had two meetings of the NATO
Council.  Both of them took unanimous decisions.  First, the
policy decision that we would go forward with these air strikes,
if necessary, in order to break the siege of Sarajevo and
improve humanitarian conditions.  Then last Monday we approved
the military plan.  Now, that military plan does provide for
coalition action.  But you wouldn't expect in this situation,
where NATO has had troops on the ground for about two years --
has 20,000 troops -- that we would proceed without the
coordination with NATO.

Let me tell you, Roger, when I was in Aviano last Friday, I saw
the teamwork between NATO and the United Nations.  I don't have
any question in my mind that we'll work very effectively.  What
the Secretary General has -- so-called "ice-breaker" -- he has
to authorize the first strikes, but from then on, it's a
military operation.

So I think this is only a recognition of the fact that the
United Nations has been there for a couple of years with 20,000
troops.  When NATO comes in, we must be fully coordinated.  But
one of the reasons I wanted to stop by Aviano last Friday night
was to see this coordination, and I was immensely impressed with
the coordination being brought by General Shalikashvili and
Admiral Boorda, who will be our two commanders on the ground.

MR. MUDD:  And Aviano is a U.S. Air Base near Venice in Italy,
is that correct?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's correct.

MR. MUDD:  But if the Bosnian Serbs read the instructions the
same way I read them, they wouldn't be so frightened of an
instantly -- of an instant air strike coming down.  I mean, they
would have a lot of play, wouldn't they?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I think this might move more
rapidly than they think, because there's a lot of the
pre-planning done on this.  The NATO Commander, Admiral Boorda,
and the U.N. Commander, General Cot, have been in almost daily
contact on this.  They're in each other's staff meetings. 
They're working very closely together.

So I think if the time comes -- if the decision is taken that
the Serbs are strangling Sarajevo and interfering with
humanitarian action -- I think the action will go fairly
quickly.

Now, the political decision is one that will be reached in the
NATO Council, and, of course, I think that's a very important
decision and ought to be debated in the NATO Council.  After
all, this is coalition-building.  Coalition-building in this
period of time is very important.  We're going to have to act
this way in the future.  Sometimes we'll act alone, but in many
instances, as in this one, we need to work with our allies in
coalition-building.

MR. MUDD:  You once said recently that the United States is
doing all it can in Bosnia consistent with our national
interests.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes.

MR. MUDD:  That's still your position?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I said at that same press
conference that we hadn't abandoned Bosnia; that we were going
to continue to do all we can.  I'm glad to have an opportunity
to say now that in this context, once again, we think that this
is the right course for the United States.  We think this is the
right action for us to take.  This is doing what we can at the
present time to try to resolve this problem.

Now, we're not going to -- we don't intend to -- the President
has made a decision not to put two or three hundred thousand
ground troops, but we've reached the point where it's necessary
to give a warning and be prepared to use military force -- use
air power to carry out United States policy in this situation.

So I think we'll continue to do all we can in the national
interest, but we've concluded that it is in our national
interests to prevent the strangulation of Sarajevo in
conjunction with our allies.

MR. MUDD:  I meant to ask you as an adjunct to your previous
question, if the decision is made to launch an air strike, give
me an estimate of how long it would take before something would
fall out of a plane?  Would it be two days or 18 hours, or could
it be done in a morning?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's going to be a military decision,
and I wouldn't want to give you an exact time-line on it.  But
let me say the military planning is very thorough and very
complete.  And, if there is finally a political decision -- that
is, if all the NATO allies are in support, if the Secretary
General of the United Nations gives his approval -- and I think
there will be lots of people talking with him about that
approval -- then I think the military action will be taken very
promptly and very seasonably.  

I think it would be unwise of me to give an exact time-line, but
when I was there in Aviano, our air base, as you said, in Italy,
I got the impression that our military people are prepared to
move very quickly when they get the order.

MR. MUDD:  Does the United States, Mr. Secretary, still embrace
the Owen peace plan which envisions the partition of Bosnia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The United States wants to have a single
state remain -- a viable single state of Bosnia.  Now, it is
really up to the parties as to the nature of that state, whether
it's a confederation of three states with some ethnic character,
that really is up to the parties; but the United States is quite
determined that there shall remain a single state, a viable
state, that will have an entity about it for the future.

Beyond that, as I say, we're going to be encouraging the parties
to negotiate.  We're going to be expressing the view that it's
very important that the Muslim portion of that area be viable --
that is, it can exist in the future -- but it's really up to the
parties to determine the exact shape and configuration.

MR. MUDD:  But in the United States view, that Bosnian entity
need not coincide exactly -- I want to stop, because your
microphone has fallen off, and I hope the audience has been able
to hear some very interesting answers.

In the United States view, the present state of Bosnia's borders
need not conform precisely with the future Bosnia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I would think the overall
configuration would be the same, but within the overall
configuration of the state of Bosnia, whether there is some
division on an ethnic basis within the overall state of Bosnia
is really up to the parties -- that is, whether there are
confederal states within the overall state of Bosnia is up to 
the parties to determine, and what the shape of those various
entities within the state are.

But we remain determined that there be an overall state of
Bosnia, and, as I say, we think that each of the portions should
be viable.

MR. MUDD:  Is it difficult for you as the Secretary of State of
a democratic country to put a blessing on the creation of a
country that is divided by ethnic class?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, it certainly is.  The concept of a
multi-ethnic state, where there is complete free flow of the
individual back and forth, is one that apparently the parties
there are not able to abide.  We can't from this distance make
these parties get along or like each other.

Take Hawaii now.  They have different ethnicities there -- the
Chinese, the Caucasians, the Hawaiians.  They really apparently
want to live together, and so they worked it out in a very
healthy and democratic way.

In Bosnia, there are such ancient hatreds that evidently the
ethnic groups want to try to divide it and be in separate
enclaves.  That will be a decision that they will have to make,
and it's very hard to dictate that from a distance.

MR. MUDD:  Is it fair to raise the question:  What's the
difference between the partitioning of Bosnia in 1994-or-5 and
the partitioning of Czechoslovakia in 1938?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The partitioning here will be -- if
there is a partition -- it will be states within an overall
state.  It will be federal enclaves, or confederal enclaves,
with an overall state of Bosnia.

Just how many powers are retained for the federal government is
something that will be the subject of negotiation here.  There
is certainly the concept in international law of a confederation
-- that is, enclaves that are joined together with certain
powers reserved for the central government and other powers
reserved for the local government.  So in that respect it's
considerably different than Czechoslovakia.

MR. MUDD:  Let me try Somalia.  Tuesday's headline says, "Exit
plan for Somalia stepped up."  Wednesday's headline said, "U.S.
troops to remain in Somalia."  Which is it?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The second headline.

MR. MUDD:  The second headline.  The first headline came out of
the Pentagon and the second out of the State Department.  

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's the President's decision, and the
President feels that we must keep our troops there.

We began in Somalia as a humanitarian endeavor, and it was
extremely successful.  The people are fed there -- indeed,
they're so well fed at the present time the feeding operation
will soon be suspended.

We have taken great steps, made great strides, especially
outside the city of Mogadishu.  Now we're in the process, under
United Nations auspices, of working toward nation-building,
working toward trying to create a structure for the future of
that country.

United States troops will remain there to assist under United
Nations auspices in this nation-building to try and restructure
a country that was, when we came there, really in chaos without
any governmental structure.

So I think it's important for the public to see it in two
pieces.  First, the humanitarian piece -- the feeding piece --
which was done so successfully under primarily United States
auspices.  Now, we're moving to a second phase, under United
Nations auspices, of trying to provide some nation-building,
give some structure to that country so it can move forward to
resolve its own problems in the future.

And for that latter point, there is not a United States exit. 
There is a United States intention to stay and help.

MR. MUDD:  Ambassador Shinn said yesterday that the goal
remained U.S. troops out by '94.  Was that accurate?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, that's accurate.

MR. MUDD:  That's the goal?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, that's the goal.

MR. MUDD:  But not the guarantee, of course?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, there's no guarantee.  But, of
course, our troops had been drawn down from 22,000 to 4,000 or
5,000 at the present time.  There will be future drawdowns; but
we want to do our part.  We want to see that country get back on
its feet.

MR. MUDD:  Do you, Mr. Secretary, regard the warlord --

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Mohammed Aideed?

MR. MUDD:  Aideed -- I'm sorry, I had a brain freeze -- Aideed
as the main obstacle to stability in Somalia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I didn't think that happened to anchors.
 It happens on this side many times.  (Laughter)

MR. MUDD:  I'll tell you lots after I get off the air.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  He certainly is the principal obstacle
at the present time.  I think something has to be done to bring
him under control so we can get on -- so the Somalians can get
on with nation-building.  He seems to be the principal obstacle,
he and his followers.  I think if we can somehow rein him in,
that his followers will not be nearly as big a problem and that
the problems of the country will be much simplified.

Just to emphasize what I said before, in much of the country
great strides have been made, even on the nation-building -- the
difficult problem of nation-building.  The problem is mainly now
in south Mogadishu; and I think if we can do something about
Aideed that problem would be greatly eased.

MR. MUDD:  Why is he so hard to find and arrest?  We've got
22,000 troops in there.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, you know, that's a country that is
a long ways from here.  It's a very big city.  He has a great
many supporters, and it's not very easy terrain for Americans or
foreigners to penetrate.  His supporters tend to protect him,
tend to help hide him.  I think we're going to have to find some
new techniques to track him down and, at least, diminish his
power in some way.

I'm not surprised in a foreign city that somebody with
considerable support from the population of that city is able to
be a very hard man to chase.

MR. MUDD:  Now, the Middle East, Mr. Secretary.  How much credit
should you get for getting the Mideast peace talks back on track
and how much should be given to Israel and Syria for wanting to
talk anyway?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think the real question is where
credit is entitled to be taken.  I think the important thing is
that the peace talks are back on track, and perhaps most
important of all, a very dangerous situation has been diffused.

I was out in Singapore when I began to get reports that fighting
was going on between the Israelis and the Hizbollah in south
Lebanon; that they were launching rockets against northern
Israel, and then Israel was basically launching an effort there.
 That seemed to me to be a very dangerous situation, so I
hurried back here and began to try to help facilitate a
cease-fire, or a cessation of hostilities, between the parties.

Fortunately, that was done over a two or three-day period.  The
parties pulled back from this and understandings were reached
that that fighting would stop.  Then the question was, could we
restore the peace process, because, naturally, that fighting had
caused some ill feelings on both sides.  So I decided to make a
trip to the region, that I had planned before, to go out and see
if we could salvage the peace talks and get them back on track. 
I think that's been done.

One of the gratifying things I found out there, Roger, is that
despite the bad feelings caused by that episode, to a person,
people thought they had to get on with the peace process. 
Indeed, that episode had only underscored the need to try to get
to underlying problems, to deal with the underlying problems.

So the question is not who gets credit for what went on out
there or who solved the problem.  The real question is that the
peace process is more or less back on track now and we ought to
all work hard.

President Clinton's desire to be a full partner here is crucial,
and I'm going to do what I can to play that role of assisting
the parties as an intermediary.

MR. MUDD:  Do you think Israeli Prime Minister Rabin over
reacted in response to the Hezbollah attack?  I mean, that was a
major excavation of people out of south Lebanon.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Part of my problem here really is not to
be judgmental between the parties but to try to help them reach
conclusions.

There was lots of provocation.  If you were Prime Minister Rabin
and they started launching rockets into your country, you would
think you needed to take some fairly strong action, too.  It's
not my role to try to judge the reaction that was taken.  It was
my job to try to see if we couldn't help diffuse the situation. 
It's been diffused.

I think the parties are now determined to carry out the
understandings that were reached and also to get back to the
peace table.  I think they're going to do that.

MR. MUDD:  Do you see at the end of the Middle East tunnel even
the dimmest light?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, I see a dim light.  It's way out
there, and I think we ought to pursue it very hard.

MR. MUDD:  My final question:  Unless Madison or Jefferson were
joggers, you are the only jogging Secretary of State in the
history of the Republic.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't know whether that's true, but I
find it very important, especially when you're working hard, to
get some exercise everyday and I try to do that.

MR. MUDD:  You told The New York Times back in May that you were
having the time of your life.  Given all these problems that you
have to carry around with you, is that still true?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes, I really am having a tremendous,
challenging time, and I'm enjoying it all.  It's not easy and
the problems go with the territory.  But it's one of those -- if
life is about challenges, there are plenty of them here in the
field of foreign policy.

MR. MUDD:  Thank you.  I enjoyed talking to you, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Roger.


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