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U.S. Department of State
95/11/27 Interview: PBS-TV "Newshour with Jim Lehrer"
Office of the Spokesman 
                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                          Office of the Spokesman 
For Immediate Release                              November 27, 1995 
                              INTERVIEW OF 
                            JIM LEHRER - PBS-TV 
                         "NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER" 
                             Washington, D. C. 
                             November 27, 1995 
MR. LEHRER:  Now to Secretary of State Christopher for a "Newsmaker" 
interview.  Mr. Secretary, welcome. 
MR. LEHRER:  First, just for the record, is the peace agreement holding 
as we speak tonight? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes.  I think it's holding quite well.  
Certainly the cessation of hostilities seems to be holding, and I think 
we're on schedule, on track, Jim.  Just about what we expected from the 
outcome of Dayton seems to be taking place in Bosnia. 
MR. LEHRER:  What about the complaint of the Bosnian Serbs about 
Sarajevo?  Is that a serious problem? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think it's not unexpected, Jim.  When you have 
an agreement that was as hard fought as this one was in Dayton -- you 
know, the situation in Dayton was really as difficult as I've ever seen 
it; the tensions were overt, really the hostility was very deep-seated -
- so it's not surprising when an agreement is reached, compromises are 
made, that some of the people in Bosnia are going to be unhappy about 
I think we're seeing some of that in Sarajevo, but the result there is 
the best one for the long run -- a unified city -- and I look to the 
Bosnian Government to give reassurance to the Serbs there in Bosnia that 
they really expect them to live in a condition of peace and 
MR. LEHRER:  One of the concerns, apparently, is that the agreement also 
calls for the Muslims to be armed and that that is what has got the 
Serbs there concerned.  Is that a legitimate concern? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me say about the agreement itself, Jim.  It 
has very strong arms control provisions.  We expect to try to create 
some equilibrium in the country through arms control and through a 
build-down.  Only if that's unsuccessful will we resort to rearming the 
Bosnians in order to create a situation where there's an equilibrium, 
where they are not really a target for others. 
We'd really like to see this done, as I say, though, by arms control and 
by building down. 
MR. LEHRER:  So when the Bosnian Serb commander says, as he did in our 
news summary just now, "We're not going anywhere, because we're here to 
protect our people," he's wrong about that.  He's going somewhere some 
time, is he not, if this thing holds? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  He absolutely is.  Let me just put that in a 
little broader context.  As you probably know, President Milosevic of 
Serbia was authorized to negotiate not just for Serbia but for the 
Bosnian Serbs as well.  He came with the direct authorization to that 
Moreover, his delegation in Dayton had some Bosnian Serbs on it.  One of 
the last things I talked to President Milosevic about was trying to get 
the Bosnian Serbs actually to initial the agreement themselves.  He told 
me he would do it within ten days.  He gave me a letter to that effect. 
I was very pleased when that was done within two days.  So that's why I 
say I think things are on track.  There's going to be some difficulties 
ahead, but we do not expect any massive resistance, any resistance from 
an army.  There will be perhaps some scattered incidents of rogue 
elements that try to resist; but I think when they see the strength of 
the NATO forces which we expect to deploy there, they'll have second 
thoughts about their resistance. 
MR. LEHRER:  Speaking of resistance, what's your reading tonight of the 
resistance within the Congress to sending U.S. troops -- the 20,000 
troops that would be part of a 60,000-NATO peacekeeping force? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We have certainly a difficult task of persuading 
the Congress to go ahead on this.  But I see some improvement.  The 
President will make a very important speech tonight spelling out the 
American leadership interests, the American vital interests, the 
American values that are at stake here.  I think as we go through these 
next several days -- couple of weeks, perhaps -- you'll see some 
movement in Congress.  Although it will be a difficult task of 
persuasion, I believe it will be successful.  I strongly believe that. 
MR. LEHRER:  Mr. Secretary, explain -- a lot of people don't understand 
why 20,000 U.S. troops are so crucial.  If you have 60,000 troops, what 
does it matter whether 20,000 of them are Americans or whether they're 
British or French or whatever? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, this is a job that only NATO can do.  Only 
NATO has the professionalism, has the kind of troops that can do it.  
The United States is critical to NATO.  We're the leader in NATO, so 
NATO is not going to do this without the United States participation on 
the ground. 
MR. LEHRER:  But why?  Why will they not do this without the U.S. 
participation on the ground? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Because we're the leader of NATO; because our 
troops are essential to doing this job well.  Our logistics are 
I think that the European countries simply will not think we're serious 
about this.  They will not be prepared to undertake the sacrifices 
themselves unless we're in it with them, and certainly we ought to be, 
Jim.  After all, we are the leaders of NATO.  The leader can't walk away 
from this. 
As a matter of fact, in the broader sense here, look what's happened.  
This is a horrific war in Bosnia:  250,000 people have been killed; two 
million refugees.  With United States leadership, we began to reverse 
the course in August.  United States leadership produced a massive 
bombing campaign that told the Serbs we meant business.  We got a cease-
fire.  We produced an agreement that there would be a single multi-
ethnic country; and then in Dayton we were able to persuade the parties, 
the three leaders there, to enter into quite a remarkably detailed and 
comprehensive peace agreement. 
This is no time for the United States to talk away from this situation.  
I can't imagine what the world would think of us if we've led this far 
and if we don't follow through. 
Jim, we simply can't shrink from this obligation we have, this 
opportunity we have to complete the task, to get a real peace in Bosnia 
which will be, as I say, very important for United States interests as 
well as United States values. 
MR. LEHRER:  But what do you say, Mr. Secretary, to the people who say, 
"Wait a minute, this is not a United States problem.  This is a European 
problem.  We had no business being over there in the first place, no 
business negotiating this peace, no business getting this committed to 
begin with?" 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, European problems are very important to the 
United States.  We have economic and political and social interests in 
Europe.  Twice before in this century, we have been drawn into European 
wars with tens of thousands of casualties, hundreds of thousands of men. 
This commitment of 20,000 men into a peacekeeping endeavor is a good 
investment to prevent us from being drawn into, once again, a major war 
in Europe. 
If we were to fail at this point, Jim, if we were to come this far and 
then turn back from it, it seems quite clear to me that the violence 
would spread, the war would break out and it would very likely extend to 
other parts of Europe.  That would destabilize Europe and might produce 
as well a situation where we would be drawn into a real war. 
We're going there not in a war situation but in a peace situation.  So 
the real choice, in a sense, Jim, is a choice between war and peace.  
We've got an opportunity for peace.  We must take it. 
MR. LEHRER:  Several members of Congress -- members of the U.S. Senate, 
in particular -- have said over the weekend that the case has not been 
made for the spilling of one ounce of blood by any young American in 
that place called Bosnia.  Do you agree with them? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  We're in the course of making that case, Jim.  
The President's speech tonight will be very important.  He'll be meeting 
with Congressional leaders tomorrow.  This is an on-going process. 
But I think there is an extremely strong case for United States 
involvement.  When the American troops go in, of course, they're best 
trained, best equipped -- the best troops, probably, in history.  We'll 
do everything we can to minimize the possibility of any casualties.  But 
no operation of that kind is entirely risk free.  So there is some 
possibility of that; but it is a very good investment to keep us from 
having far greater risks, the possibility of far greater casualties in 
the future. 
MR. LEHRER:  Is it just a simple fact, Mr. Secretary, that there would 
be no peace agreement without the pledge that you and the President gave 
of the use of 20,000 troops for a peacekeeping force? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There's no question in my mind.  There would 
have been no agreement in Dayton without the United States involvement.  
There will be no peace without the United States involvement in 
implementation.  The parties made it clear to me in Dayton that the 
United States commitment of being involved in the implementation force 
was crucial.  Certainly, it's crucial to the Bosnian Government. 
MR. LEHRER:  Why did you and the President elect not to go to Congress 
before that pledge was made in Dayton? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, I testified extensively before the Dayton 
agreement.  I found that I was getting a lot of questions that could 
only be answered from the agreement.  Now, we've got a solid, 
comprehensive agreement.  When we go back to testify on Capitol Hill, 
which we'll probably do later this week, we'll have something to point 
to.  So I think it was necessary to have the agreement which provides 
the foundation for asking the Congress for support. 
MR. LEHRER:  One of the other things the members of Congress want is an 
exit date.  Secretary Perry has been rather specific in the last couple 
of days:  In eight or nine months a withdrawal would begin; all gone 
within a year.  Can you be that precise? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The military estimates are, Jim, that this job 
will require about a year to do.  That's what we're going on; and I 
think it's very healthy to set an exit date, an approximate exit date, 
because it helps avoid mission creep.  It helps, you know, that what 
we're there to do is implement the military provisions of the peace 
MR. LEHRER:  But what if you're a troublemaker over there and, you know, 
"Well, the Americans are going to get out of here in a year.  Why not 
hold our fire until they get out, and then we can really make our 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Of course, I've heard that argument a number of 
times.  They made it in connection with the situation in Haiti and the 
American multinational force was withdrawn.  We'll be withdrawing our 
force on schedule in Haiti as well.  There are means to deal with that 
kind of troublemaker. 
MR. LEHRER:  All right, speaking of Haiti.  President Aristide hinted 
over the weekend that he might not leave as scheduled in February.  
What's going on there, Mr. Secretary? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Jim, there will be an election there on the 17th 
of December to choose a new President.  That new President will be 
inaugurated on the 7th of February.  President Aristide has assured us 
that he will follow the constitution which requires that he not run this 
time; that there will be a new President on the 7th of (February.) 
There have been several clarifying statements today, indicating that 
President Aristide will stick by the constitution and follow that 
schedule.  In recent days, he assured my colleague, Tony Lake, the 
National Security Adviser, that he will be following the constitution 
and following his pledge. 
MR. LEHRER:  And you consider that pledge -- the United States considers 
that pledge iron-clad.  There was no way out of this for him, is that 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's right.  But, of course, that's a pledge 
that he has taken some time ago.  He said -- and I thought so eloquently 
-- it's the second election in a new democracy that's so important.  I 
think he's going to live up to that.  He's given us no reason otherwise. 
But I want to emphasize, Jim, that it's the constitution that he is 
looking to primarily.  He's looking to that because he thinks that's 
right for his country and right for his people. 
MR. LEHRER:  Not necessarily the deal with the United States? 
MR. LEHRER:  What is causing this sudden surge of boat people, of people 
leaving Haiti, risking their lives to get out?  There's been 1,000, as I 
reported, just this past week.  What's going on down there? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Of course, there is still very serious economic 
deprivation in the country.  If I had to guess, I would guess a number 
of those people are driven by economic concerns.  There has been an 
upsurge in violence but not nearly the kind of violence that we've seen 
there in the past. 
But if I had to guess, I would guess it's mainly a desire to come to the 
United States, which they'll not be permitted to do, of course. 
MR. LEHRER:  The thing's not falling apart, is it, Mr. Secretary? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I do not think things are falling apart.  I 
think we've had some incidents in the last few days; but I think the 
election will go forward on schedule, and we'll see a Haiti which will 
continue to have problems, because it's had 200 years of one kind of 
deprivation after another.  I think things are going forward, but I 
wouldn't say that we shouldn't expect some difficulty in the future.  
There will be difficulty for many years as that country tries to repair 
MR. LEHRER:  And the United States is going to remain involved? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The United States will certainly remain involved 
from the standpoint of our aid.  Our United Nations troops will leave on 
the 7th of February.  United States troops are part of those.  But we'll 
continue to be involved in trying to assist the development of their 
economy, which, of course, is crucial. 
MR. LEHRER:  Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. 
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