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U.S. Department of State
93/10/04 Interview on PBS-TV "MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour"
Office of the Spokesman

                       U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                       Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release                                October 4, 1993

                             INTERVIEW OF
                  PBS-TV'S "MacNEIL/LEHRER NEWSHOUR"

                           October 4, 1993

MS. MARGARET WARNER:  Earlier this afternoon I talked with Secretary of 
State Warren Christopher about the situation in Somalia.  The interview 
was in the State Department's Briefing Room.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'll just have to ask you to understand when I 
say [that] some Americans are missing but it is best for me not to try 
to be more specific.

MS. WARNER:  Would you consider these Americans -- without getting into 
specifics, does the American Government consider them prisoners or 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me just say this:  Some Americans are 
missing.  We hold General Aideed responsible for them.  They ought to be 
returned immediately.  It's important that no harm come to them.  The 
United States has quite an array of things that we might do if they are 
not returned promptly.  I don't want to be more specific than that 
tonight, Margaret.

MS. WARNER:  CNN is showing a videotape of one U.S. soldier that they 
say has been captured; and of course there are also reports that some of 
the U.S. soldiers who were killed, their bodies have been paraded 
through Mogadishu.  What does that do to the prospects for maintaining 
American public support for the mission there?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  This is a time for us to be very steady in our 
purpose.  This is no time for the United states to start talking about 
departure.  I think it's a time for us to be steady, to continue doing 
what we're doing to try to establish security there.  That's what we 
came there for in the first place, to establish security so as to end 

I think until we finish that job, we shouldn't talk about leaving, 
especially tonight.

MS. WARNER:  Do you think security can be established there, short of 
taking over the country?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, there's only a small part of the country 
where this problem is taking place -- the south part of Mogadishu.  Yes, 
I think the United States can, with the assistance of other U.N. troops, 
establish security there.

We're sending in some re-inforcements tonight, you know -- some harder 
armor, some tanks, and some Bradley vehicles -- which I think will give 
our forces more security than in the past.  Also, we're sending in two 
gunships which should be helpful in that regard as well.

MS. WARNER:  Do you think that a secure environment can be established 
without capturing Aideed?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think General Aideed is not the central 
problem here.  The central problem is violence against United States 
forces.  Those are forces there on a humanitarian mission, to provide 
security.  There is just no excuse for them to be attacked in the way 
that they were.  I think the United States will have a wide array of 
options in responding to that kind of conduct against United States 

MS. WARNER:  And just so I understand clearly here, as you see it, the 
U. S. Mission is not to be necessarily -- to stay as long as the U.N. 
may stay to complete nation-building.  But where is the line here at 
which point U.S. forces could get out?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I'm glad to have a chance to comment on that, 
Margaret.  We went in last November at President Bush's direction, as 
you know.  Our purpose was basically a security purpose.  We needed to 
establish security so we could end the starvation there.  Starvation was 
being caused by the very warlords who are causing the trouble now.

We were able to establish a secure environment and bring an end to the 
starvation and save hundreds of thousands of people.  Now we have a 
recurrence of that kind of violence, this time coming from General 
Aideed and his forces.  I think before the United States can leave in 
any way that is satisfactory, we must establish a secure environment.

The other part of the operation -- that is, the United Nations operation 
-- is to try to build the nation, to restore government there.  That's 
the United Nations operation.

The United States job was to establish a secure environment.  When that 
job is done, we should leave.  We should perhaps assist the United 
Nations in various ways.  Theirs is a laudable purpose, but it's a 
different purpose than our initial purpose.  When our job is done, we 
should leave.

MS. WARNER:  And how long do you think that will take -- the U.S. part?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I think that can be done in a relatively 
short period of time.  But tonight is not the night to talk about 
leaving.  I understand very much the motives that people -- the 
reaction, the emotional reaction of people who say we must leave right 
now.  But when United States forces have been attacked in the way they 
have been today, I think we must be steady in our purpose.  We must work 
to establish a secure environment; and I don't think that's a prolonged 
task, but it's a very important task.

MS. WARNER:  The President said today that the U.S. wants to prevent 
Somalia from sliding back into the anarchy that put all of these people 
at risk, all the Somalis at risk, from starvation.  But if you were 
speaking to the family of a serviceman who just died, why are U.S. 
interests at stake in preventing starvation in Somalia?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would say to the people -- and it would be a 
very difficult call, of course -- that their son or daughter had died -- 
I don't think any women have died -- that their child had died, their 
son had died, in the service of his country and in one of our most 
laudable services, an humanitarian mission in which we were trying to 
prevent mass starvation in a country where hundreds of thousands of 
people had died through starvation.

I think our purpose was to establish enough security there so that the 
relief food could get through.  I would think, although nothing would 
comfort a family in that situation, that that's the purpose that the 
United States has long held around the world and it's one which we will 
undertake again under appropriate circumstances.

MS. WARNER:  I don't know if you've talked to anyone on the Hill today, 
but of course there have been renewed calls for re-examining this whole 
mission.  If incidents like this continue, are you confident that you 
can maintain Hill support?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that we'll maintain Hill support for 
backing up our troops.  Our troops were savagely attacked last night in 
the most improper way.  We were conducting a humanitarian mission.  I'd 
be very surprised if people on Capitol Hill would not support that.  I 
quite understand that they want to establish an end to this mission but 
only after we establish the security of our forces.

MS. WARNER:  And what does an incident such as the one yesterday do to 
President Clinton's efforts and your own to find a political solution 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it gives an even heighten need for that.  
I think we must press forward on that track.

I talked to Secretary General Boutros Ghali over the weekend, and he 
assured me that he was going to press forward with that with his trip to 
the region in the near future.  This incident only heightens the need 
for going forward on that track, but at 

 the same time it does not in any way lessen the need for the United 
States to be steady in trying to secure the environment there and to 
prevent, as the President said today, lurching back into a condition of 
massive starvation.

MS. WARNER:  Can Aideed supporters be part of that political solution?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's very difficult for people who 
actually have an arrest warrant out for them, who have been part of 
these endeavors, to be part of that solution; but I would not rule out 
that some supporters of his, some members of his clan who are perhaps 
innocent in these matters, to be part of the solution.  But for Aideed 
himself to be part of the solution, I think is very difficult at this 

MS. WARNER:  Let me ask you finally, as you're aware, during the Cold 
War the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union never participated as 
peacekeepers, in part because of the fear that they would simply become 

When you look at how U.S. soldiers are being treated and welcomed or not 
welcomed in Somalia, do you think there is still some wisdom in perhaps 
thinking twice or three times before sending U.S. troops into 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I always think it is worthwhile, thinking twice 
or three times before sending U.S. troops anyplace, Margaret.  But I 
think in this new period, United States troops can be part of 
peacekeeping under appropriate circumstances.

I don't think that the United States troops are more a target because of 
being United States troops than otherwise.  I think the reasons in the 
Cold War for not sending them in were people thought it was a polarized 
situation.  That bi-polar situation has vanished, so under strictly 
limited and appropriate circumstances I think United States troops can 
be used.

But as we have been saying over the last couple of weeks, we are going 
to screen very carefully the places where United States troops go in.  
They have to have an important purpose, they have to be doing a job that 
can be successful, and they have to have an exit strategy.

MS. WARNER:  Would Somalia have fit these new criteria if you were faced 
with that choice today?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  It's hard to go back.  You really can't do 
history in a subjunctive mode.  I wouldn't want to try to challenge 
President Bush's sending them there.  But I think one of the reasons 
that we want to get out when we can, when our job is done, is because it 
had a very limited purpose and we ought to try to accomplish that 
purpose and then leave.

  * * * * *

MR. ROBERT MacNEIL:  The situation in Russia was the second part of 
Margaret Warner's interview this afternoon with Secretary of State 
Christopher.  She asked him about the situation in the Russian capital 

MS. WARNER:  Mr. Secretary, what can you tell us?  We're still seeing 
footage of the Parliament building burning in Moscow.  What can you tell 
us right now about the situation on the ground there?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Just before I came down here to talk with you 
tonight, Margaret, I talked with Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, and he 
said that the so-called White House or the Parliament building was now 
fully under control.  It was being cleaned up, as he said; and I think 
that situation has been calmed considerably.

It is nighttime there now in Moscow.  There is apparently some sporadic 
gunfire in some portions of the city.  Apparently some people were able 
to get out of the White House and have resumed the gunfire in other 
parts of the city.  But the situation, as I understand it, is that 
Yeltsin is in full control.

MS. WARNER:  Is there anything -- is there any way you think that this 
violent event could have been avoided?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that President Yeltsin did everything he 
could to avoid it.  He withheld the use of force for as long as he 
could.  Even after it was necessary to use force, he delayed long enough 
to give people warning so they could get out of the White House or 

I think when there was the risk of mob rule, when the attacks were 
started against the so-called city hall and the television station, when 
Rutskoi incited the riot there, I don't think there was any choice but 
for Yeltsin to answer back.  Every organized government has to answer 
when they are being challenged in this way.

MS. WARNER:  Let me just ask it this way:  Did the Clinton 
Administration make it clear to members of Mr. Yeltsin's Government last 
night, before this, that in fact that was Washington's view, that this 
was entirely a legitimate response for him to take?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We were not, in effect, asked at that time.  We 
had confidence that he was doing what he said he would do -- that is, 
that he would avoid violence as long as he could, that it would be as 
peaceful and democratic as he could make it.  But he reached the point 
where obviously he felt he had to react.  We were not asked for our 
advice as to what he should do.  That was a decision that he had to take 
as the head of a sovereign government.

MS. WARNER:  So what does he have to do now?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think what he has to do now is, of course, 
maintain control in the situation, but he has to move toward the 
elections.  I understand he'll be making a speech tomorrow in which he 
will urge people to get on with the peaceful conduct of the elections.  
He met with regional leaders today, and they pledged their support to 

It's quite important to realize, Margaret, that this is a very isolated 
phenomenon.  It's a phenomenon that existed in one section of Moscow.  
The rest of the country has been relatively calm.  The rest of the city 
in Moscow has been calm.  Indeed, we have had some delegations in Moscow 
that conducted more or less business as usual today amidst all this.  So 
it's a narrow phenomenon, but I think what he must do is to reiterate 
and confirm his desire to move forward with the election process, to 
respect the rights of people to run in that election.

MS. WARNER:  Now, of course, the upcoming elections in December are to 
be parliamentary elections --


MS. WARNER:  -- and during the standoff President Yeltsin said he was 
not willing to stand for election at that time himself.  Do you think 
now that he needs to go ahead and also run himself in December to sort 
of re-establish his democratic legitimacy in any way?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Margaret, that would really be, I think, a 
decision for them to take.  He has announced Presidential elections for 
next June, on June 12 I think.  I think the important thing is to go 
through that process, to have the parliamentary elections, and then to 
have the people of Russia know they'll have a chance to choose a new 
President.  And I think we would be trying to micromanage it from this 
distance if we tried to tell him that they ought to be simultaneous or 
something else.

The important thing is that there be a firm democratic process in which 
people are able to run for office, for the parliament or the presidency.

MS. WARNER:  Currently, of course, a state of emergency rule still 
exists in Moscow.  I gather the President has also shut down a couple 
opposition newspapers.  How long could the United States support the 
continuation of that kind of emergency rule?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I understand the emergency rule may continue for 
another six to seven days.  I think that would not be an unreasonable 
period of time.  What we have to recognize is that the forces opposed to 
Yeltsin are basically the old-line communists from yesterday or 
yesteryear.  It was significant that the flag they raised was the hammer 
and sickle, and I think it's quite understandable that Yeltsin would 
need to deal firmly with that situation.

But the Foreign Minister said to me tonight -- Andrei Kozyrev -- that 
President Yeltsin had reaffirmed his desire that these elections would 
go forward, that people be able to participate in them, and that they be 
democratic elections.  And that's the important thing tonight.

MS. WARNER:  And do you think the fact that he has had to use force 
against his own people will change the character of this democratic 
revolution that he has been trying to lead?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No, I don't, not if the elections come about and 
people are able to participate in both elections fully.  Many democratic 
governments have had to act forcefully to put down efforts to incite 
violence or to have a kind of a government by mob rule, and I think a 
government must act to protect itself in those circumstances.

MS. WARNER:  Mr. Secretary, I gather you'll be going to Moscow later 
this month.  Is that true?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I've had some plans to travel to Eastern Europe, 
and those plans are going ahead.  They're right on track.  I'll be there 
some time later this month.

MS. WARNER:  And do these events change your mission in any way?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  No.  I think that they reinforce the purpose of 
going there.  I'm going there to meet with various people in Moscow as 
well as in some of the other newly independent states.  I think it's 
very important at this time for the United States to be firmly 
supportive of President Yeltsin in his democratic track.

MS. WARNER:  Even though President Yeltsin won this confrontation, I 
think we all saw that there is a lot of discontent, there's a lot of 
anger out there among the Russian people.  Do you think the U.S. and the 
West need to re-think at all the pace of economic reform that we've been 
urging on Russia, which is, of course, very painful for many, many 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The pace will be decided, I think, by President 
Yeltsin and his various ministers.  It has been the Parliament that has 
been an obstruction to progress there.  I don't think that you can judge 
the mood of the people of Russia from the group who rioted in Moscow.  
How many were there?  Ten thousand, 20,000.  But perhaps the best index 
to how the Russian people felt is the fact that around the rest of the 
country there were no similar demonstrations.

The information we get from public opinion polling that we've seen done 
is that President Yeltsin's support has gone up since he announced that 
he was abolishing the Parliament and having elections.  So I think it 
may be too quick to say that the people want to slow the pace of reform.  
That was the view of others.

MS. WARNER:  And so you wouldn't suggest that the IMF ease up conditions 
further or in any way change its approach?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would not think that the United States should 
be involved in that sort of advocacy at the present time.

MS. WARNER:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary, very much.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Thank you, Margaret.


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