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U.S. Department of State
95/11/27 Interview: NPR "All Things Considered"
Office of the Spokesman 
                         U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman 
For Immediate Release                            November 27, 1995 
                             INTERVIEW OF 
                        "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED" 
                           Washington, D.C. 
                      Monday, November 27, 1995 
MR. SIEGEL:  Secretary of State Warren Christopher writes in the New 
York Times today that the question of sending U.S. peacekeepers to 
Bosnia is an acid test of American leadership. 
The Secretary of State joins us from the State Department.  Welcome, Mr. 
MR. SIEGEL:  I would like to ask you, first, how you would answer those 
who say that the fighting in Bosnia, however atrocious it may be, just 
doesn't involve vital interests to the United States and, therefore, it 
isn't worth risking American lives. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  On the contrary.  It involves some of our most 
vital interests.  First, our leadership as the superpower remaining, we 
have a very strong interest in vindicating our leadership. 
Robert, we started down this path toward peace in the midst of the 
summer.  We were able to persuade NATO to launch a bombing campaign 
after those terrible incidents in Sarajevo. We were then able to get a 
cease-fire and get the parties committed to having a single, multi-
ethnic state.  Then we persuaded them to come to Dayton, and now we've 
reached an agreement. 
I think that our leadership would be very severely criticized around the 
world if we didn't follow through.  That's point number one. 
Point number two, I think we have a very strong interest in ensuring 
that this peace agreement has the best chance to succeed that it 
possibly can so we don't have a broader war in Europe. 
If the peace agreement fails because of the lack of implementation, 
almost certainly the conflict will spread and thus spread our very 
strong interest in peace and stability in Europe. 
Finally, our values are very much involved in this decision.  Americans 
shuddered at the pictures we've seen over the last four years -- 
concentration camps, starvation, mass graves.  I think as a great 
nation, we have a considerable stake in vindicating our values. 
I would say that we have very strong and vital national interests 
MR. SIEGEL:  Here's a situation that might arise in Bosnia after 
peacekeepers are sent.  Let's say there were sniper fire from some 
Bosnian Serb irregulars in Sarajevo.  According to this peace agreement, 
whose responsibility would it be to suppress the snipers?  Would it be 
the Bosnian army's responsibility or would it be NATO's responsibility? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me first say that we don't expect any mass 
or organized resistance here.  I think there would be very few people in 
that country that would want to take on NATO.  NATO will go in with 
heavy forces, well armed, and well trained; perhaps the best trained 
armies in the world. 
If there are some occasional efforts, if there are some rogue elements 
that try to test us, NATO will be prepared to respond.  That would be 
part of their task, to ensure their authority is not challenged during 
the period that they're there. 
MR. SIEGEL:  But we all understand testing them to mean a force that 
might actually fire on the peacekeepers.  But what if there were gunfire 
from one group of Bosnians against another group of Bosnians?  Would it 
be the role of the peacekeepers to suppress those who are initiating 
that fight and actually attack them? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The task of the peacekeepers would be to carry 
out the military annexes of the agreement.  Those annexes provide for a 
separation of forces.  They would try to ensure that the parties to 
agreement keep the agreement. 
The NATO forces -- IFOR -- will not act as the police force within the 
country.  They will not be trying to keep the civil peace.  They'll be 
carrying out the military annexes of the agreement. 
I think you'll find strong and robust rules of engagement.  But they are 
to carry out the military annex and not to resolve civilian 
controversies within the country. 
MR. SIEGEL:  You wrote in your article in the New York Times today that, 
"Without our troops, an agreement that serves our interest will not 
carried out."  But you've also described this as an agreement that 
serves the interest of the parties that signed it. 
Why is it, indeed, in their interest -- and if they see it that way -- 
why must American forces be there to make them do something that they 
have agreed to? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  You're quite right that all three parties have 
agreed to what was negotiated in Dayton, and moreover each of the three 
presidents has sent a letter to President Clinton, urging that NATO 
troops come in and saying that they will do all they can to ensure their 
At the same time, Robert, I think it's only understandable that after 
four years of a bloody, bitter war, that the three countries need some 
help in carrying out the agreement.  They need to have the confidence 
that is engendered by having NATO there to assist in the separation of 
forces.  This is a mission of limited duration in order to give the 
parties an opportunity to settle in to the rhythms of peace. 
MR. SIEGEL:  How long a duration is it? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  What the military people have said is that they 
believe that the task can be carried out in about a year, and that's the 
best estimate that I have for you today.  We would expect elections to 
be held between six and nine months after the implementation force goes 
in, and I think that could be a very important confidence-building 
mechanism in itself. 
MR. SIEGEL:  During the time that U.S. forces would be in Bosnia during 
that -- however long it might be -- year, could you imagine them 
beginning that mission with Bosnian Serbs still expressing themselves as 
against it in some way or not accepting it? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Robert, let me tell you where that stands.  As 
you know, in Dayton, President Milosevic of Serbia was explicitly 
authorized to negotiate for the Bosnian Serbs.  In addition to that, 
there was a mixed delegation composed both of Serbs and Bosnian Serbs. 
When the agreement was signed by President Milosevic of Serbia, I urged 
him to get the signature of the Bosnian Serbs as well.  Indeed, he 
committed himself in a letter to me to do that within ten days. 
Of considerable interest to me, he produced the signatures from the 
Bosnian Serbs within two days.  So I think the trend is going in the 
right direction.  It's not surprising to me that there is some 
opposition to the agreement; that the nature of compromises is that 
there is going to be probably some people who unhappy with this 
agreement.  But I think when they see the pluses in the agreement -- 
also when they see the strength of the force that's there to implement 
it -- I believe we'll not have any mass or organized opposition -- not 
from the Bosnian Serbs or from the other parties. 
MR. SIEGEL:  What about smaller scale opposition, though, in the forms 
of protests, demonstrations? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't think we can rule out that there will be 
some sporadic violence, separated probably by long periods of time or 
perhaps geographically separated, and the IFOR troops will be prepared 
to deal with anything that attempts to stop them in their mission, and 
they'll deal with that quite aggressively and firmly. 
MR. SIEGEL:  Before letting you go, which I will in just one moment, I 
just want to clarify what you said earlier.  If such events of violence 
were committed by one group of Bosnians against another group of 
Bosnians, the peace agreement would see that as a civilian problem.  
It's not for IFOR to deal with?  Do I understand that? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Yes.  I think that, under military annexes, 
would not be regarded as part of the duties of IFOR.  IFOR is there to 
provide a separation of forces between the Bosnian Serbs, on the one 
hand, and the Federation forces on the other hand. 
Clearly, if there is something done in the presence of IFOR, IFOR will 
deal with that, just as they have dealt with some sporadic instances of 
lawlessness in Haiti.  Clearly, the NATO forces are not going to stand 
by and see some gross violation of civil rights, but that's not the 
central part of their responsibility. 
The focus here is on the military annexes.  Military annexes focus on 
the separation of forces between the parties in insuring that the war 
that they've carried on between the elements there does not restart. 
MR. SIEGEL:  Secretary of State Christopher, thank you very much. 
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