95/12/01 Statement: US Troops to Bosnia  Return to: Index of 1995 Secretary of State's Speeches/Testimonies || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

U.S. Department of State
95/12/01 Statement:  US Troops to Bosnia
Office of the Spokesman

                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                          Office fo the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                           December 1, 1995

                               Statement by
                  Secretary of State Warren Christopher
                                before the
                    Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
                              December 1, 1995

	Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  On Monday night, President Clinton 
addressed the nation to explain why American troops should join our NATO 
Allies to help peace take hold in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Secretary Perry, 
General Shalikashvili, and I are here to further explain our purpose and 
our plans, to answer your questions, and to seek your support. 
	We have a fundamental choice.  As the President made clear, if the 
United States does not participate, there will be no NATO force.  If 
there is no NATO force, there will be no peace in Bosnia, and the war 
will reignite.   
	We do not have to imagine the consequences.  We know what would 
happen.  There would be more massacres, more concentration camps, more 
hunger, a real threat of a wider war, and immense damage to our 
leadership in NATO, in Europe, and the world.  That is the alternative 
we can and must avoid.  We must continue to secure the peace. 
	The war in the former Yugoslavia has been a threat to our nation's 
interests and an affront to our nation's values.  We have been witness 
to horrors and cruelties that my generation -- the generation that 
fought World War II -- once thought were consigned to a dark and distant 
past.  We have faced the constant threat of a wider, even more terrible 
war in an unstable part of Europe.  We have had to contemplate the 
possibility that our troops would be called upon to rescue our allies 
from Bosnia under fire. 
	This summer, the conflict in Bosnia reached a crisis point.  The 
President launched a carefully conceived initiative that took us step by 
step from the most horrifying events of the war -- the fall of 
Srebrencia and Zepa -- to this hopeful point.   
	At the July London Conference, we persuaded our Allies to take 
decisive measures to protect Bosnia's remaining safe areas.  We led a 
NATO bombing campaign to convince the Bosnian Serbs that nothing more 
could be gained by continuing the war.  Our diplomacy produced a cease-
fire and a set of constitutional principles for a single Bosnian state.  
And last week, we led the parties to a comprehensive settlement in 
Dayton.  That settlement will be formally signed in Paris on December 
	As a result of the President's initiative, the fighting has 
stopped.  We now have an opportunity to secure an enduring peace because 
of American strength and American diplomacy.  We will achieve our goal 
only if America continues to lead.  The parties have taken risks for 
peace and we must continue to support them. 
	Our national interest in implementing the Dayton settlement is 
	We have a strong interest in ending the worst atrocities in Europe 
since World War II -- atrocities that are all the more pernicious 
because they have been directed at specific groups of people because of 
their faith.  By helping peace take hold, we can make sure that the 
people of Bosnia see no more days of dodging bullets, no more winters of 
freshly dug graves, no more years of isolation from the outside world.   
	We have a strong interest in making sure that this conflict does 
not spread.  Bosnia lies on a faultline in a volatile region of Europe.  
To the south are Kosovo, Albania, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of 
Macedonia, the likeliest flashpoints of a wider war, as well as Greece 
and Turkey, two NATO allies.  To the north and east lie Hungary, Romania 
and Bulgaria, fragile new democracies deeply threatened by the prospect 
of ethnic conflict in the Balkans.  To the north also lies the Eastern 
Slavonia region of Croatia, which could yet spark a regional war if the 
Dayton accords are not implemented. 
	Peace in this part of Europe matters to the United States because 
Europe matters to the United States.  Twice this century, we have sent 
millions of American soldiers to war across the Atlantic.  The first of 
this century's great wars began with violence in Sarajevo.  The second 
began with aggression in Central Europe and with horrors that the world 
ignored until it was too late.  Ever since, our leaders, Republican and 
Democrat alike, have acted to protect our vital interest in European 
stability.  If we do not take this opportunity for peace, we could be 
faced with the prospect of action far costlier and more dangerous than 
anything being contemplated now. 
	The United States also has a vital interest in maintaining our 
leadership in the world.  Taking action in Bosnia now is an acid test of 
American leadership.  After creating this opportunity for peace, we 
cannot afford to walk away.  I can tell you from my personal experience 
as Secretary of State that if we are seen as a country that does not 
follow through on its initiatives, no nation will follow us -- not in 
Europe, not in the Middle East, not in Asia, not anywhere. 
	Mr. Chairman, the agreement we initialed in Dayton advances our 
national interests and gives us every reason to believe that peace can 
take hold in Bosnia.  The settlement was negotiated in 21 long days 
against the backdrop of four bloody years of war.  It includes many 
hard-fought compromises.  But on every important issue, it meets the 
principled and practical standards on which my negotiating team and I 
insisted.  It is an agreement not just of goals, but of means. 
--  It preserves Bosnia as a single state with federal institutions that 
represent its Croat, Muslim, and Serb communities alike. 
--  It reunifies Sarajevo within the Federation of Bosnia and 
Herzegovina, and connects Gorazde to the Federation by a secure land 
--  It gives the people of Bosnia the right to move freely throughout 
the country.  It gives refugees the right to return to their homes.  And 
it creates a mechanism for settling claims to property. 
--  It makes it possible for democratic, internationally-run elections 
to be held next year.  I spent hours in Dayton convincing the parties 
that refugees should have a choice between voting where they currently 
live or in their original homes. 
--  The agreement excludes war criminals from office.  And it explicitly 
obligates all the parties to cooperate with the investigation and 
prosecution of war crimes. 
--  It protects human rights and creates new institutions to investigate 
and punish violations. 
--  Most fundamentally, it ends the war, and requires the parties to 
move their armed forces behind agreed lines. 
	Sometimes in a negotiation like this, there is a temptation to 
take short cuts, to deal with the hardest issues in an ambiguous way.  
But in Dayton, we insisted on concrete and detailed commitments on the 
most critical issues that divided the parties.  Because the agreement is 
comprehensive, it is far more likely to endure.	 
	In the long run, restoring the fabric of Bosnia's society will 
still require an immense effort.  But at least that effort can now 
begin.  After all, only with peace does Bosnia have a chance to exist as 
a single state.  Only with peace does it have a chance to build a multi-
ethnic democracy.  Only with peace will we have a chance to bring war 
criminals to justice, and to ensure that no more war crimes are 
	The Dayton accord does require the parties to take extremely 
difficult steps on the road to peace.  I believe that each is prepared 
to carry out its commitments, but only if each is confident that the 
other parties will carry out theirs.  Each party made it clear that they 
would reach settlement only if NATO agreed to lead a peace 
implementation force.   
	Secretary Perry and General Shalikashvili will speak in greater 
detail about our participation in IFOR.  But let me address some of the 
questions I know are on your mind. 
	I know many Americans have wondered why Europe cannot provide all 
of the ground troops in this NATO force.  NATO is built on the sharing 
of effort and risk.  We are NATO's largest member, the core of its 
strength and resolve.  The Alliance cannot undertake what will be the 
largest mission in its history if we decline to do our share.  At the 
same time, we should remember that other nations, including nearly all 
our NATO allies, Russia, and many of our new partners in Central Europe, 
will contribute 2/3 of the troops in IFOR. 
	Others have asked whether, after four years of bloodshed, the 
parties are willing to carry through with this agreement.  We must 
remember that we secured the agreement because peace is the key to what 
all the parties want:  from reconstruction, to justice, to rejoining the 
international community.  We constructed the agreement to ensure that it 
will be carried out.  We have made certain that sanctions against 
Serbia, our main source of leverage with that country, will be reimposed 
if the agreement is not implemented.  Sanctions against the Bosnian 
Serbs will remain in place until their forces withdraw behind the agreed 
boundary of the Serb Republic.  Moreover, our troops will have the 
strength and authority to enforce key military provisions of the 
	In addition, let me emphasize that it was not enough for me that 
President Milosevic was specifically authorized to negotiate the accord 
on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs.  I insisted that the Bosnian Serbs 
initial it as well.  In Dayton, President Milosevic promised to obtain 
their agreement within 10 days; as it turned out, he did so in just two 
days.  This kind of response increases my confidence that this accord 
will be carried out. 
	Mr. Chairman, as we negotiated in Dayton, we constantly insisted 
on an agreement that our military could implement and enforce.  Each 
part of the agreement was carefully constructed to take into account the 
needs of our armed forces and the advice of the military members of our 
team.  As a result, the military annex to the agreement contains the 
kind of detailed provisions our military considered essential to their 
	Let me assure you that IFOR's mission is well-defined and limited.  
Our troops will enforce the military aspects of the agreement -- 
enforcing the cease-fire, supervising the withdrawal of forces, and 
establishing a zone of separation between them.  But it will not be 
asked to guarantee the success of democracy or reconstruction, or to act 
as a police force.  One of the lessons we have learned in the last few 
years is that our military should not be a permanent guarantor of peace.  
It should create opportunities that others must then seize.  
	Because IFOR's mission is well defined, we have a clear end point, 
which Secretary Perry will describe in detail.  In this respect, I want 
to stress that we are committed to achieve a stable military balance 
within Bosnia and among the states of the former Yugoslavia, so that 
peace will endure.  This should be achieved, to the extent possible, 
through arms limitations and reductions.   
	As significant as these arms control and confidence building 
measures may be, however, they will not be sufficient to achieve 
military stabilization.  The armed forces of the Federation, which have 
been most severely constrained by the arms embargo, will need to obtain 
some equipment and training in order to establish an effective self-
defense capability.  For our part, the United States will ensure that 
Federation armed forces receive the necessary assistance.  Neither IFOR 
nor the U.S. military will directly participate in this effort.  The 
best approach -- and the one we will pursue -- is for the United States 
to coordinate an international effort to provide the necessary 
	Civilian agencies from around the world will carry out a separate 
program to help the people of Bosnia rebuild.  Our European allies will 
pay for most of this vital civilian effort.  International organizations 
will also play an important role.  The OSCE will supervise elections.  
The UNHCR will coordinate the return of refugees.  The World Bank and 
IMF will help Bosnia's economy recover, with the EU also playing a 
leading role.  The UN will help monitor and train local police. 
	But none of these important tasks will be carried out unless the 
peace agreement endures.  There is no middle ground between peace and 
war in Bosnia.  And in the choice between peace and war, as the 
President so plainly put it Monday night, "America must choose peace."   
	Many years from now, I have no doubt that people will look back on 
this month in history as a critical turning point for the United States 
and Europe.  Let it be remembered as the moment when our country grasped 
the chance we created for peace, not as the moment when we hesitated to 
	The President has made his choice.  The United States must act as 
the great nation that we are.  We must protect our interests.  We must 
uphold our ideals.  We must keep our commitments.  And we must lead. 
	In the coming days, Mr. Chairman, the Administration will continue 
to consult fully with you and with the Congress.  We will continue to 
work hard to gain the bipartisan support of the Congress, just as we 
work to gain the support and understanding of the American people.  We 
are confident that the case for moving forward is clear and strong.  We 
are prepared to answer your questions and to hear your concerns today.  

	Thank you. 
To the top of this page