Europe Helped Us, Clinton Says, Now It’s Our Turn President Tells Irish Why U.S. Is Sending Troops To Bosnia
President Clinton Friday offered a spirited defense of his plan to send 20,000 U.S. soldiers to help Europe keep peace in Bosnia, arguing that Western allies rallied to Washington’s side in Iraq and Haiti, so the United States can do no less.
The defense came at a joint news conference with Irish Prime Minister John Bruton as Clinton spent a second day here surrounded by enraptured crowds of thousands who turned out wherever he went, lining motorcades, waiting outside government buildings and crowding College Green, where he delivered a presidential “address to the people of Ireland.”
At the news conference, Bruton was asked why the United States must send troops to Europe for the third time this century rather than have the Europeans solve the Bosnia problem themselves. Bruton replied that the killing in Bosnia is “genocide,” and “that’s not just a European problem - that’s a problem for the world at large, for all of us who have democratic values.”
Clinton, standing alongside the prime minister, interjected with a string of points on the United States’ role in Europe. He said that since World War II, the United States and Europe have had “shared concerns” that might first show up in Europe but then become much more immediate to the United States, and preventing a widening war in Europe is in the interests of the United States.
Beyond that, Clinton said, “I’d like to ask every American how you would have felt when President Bush sent out the call for help in Desert Storm … if they said, ‘You handle that, you have more money, more soldiers, more interest there. You’re concerned about the oil. You waste more oil than the rest of us. You guys handle that.’
“Think about all the countries that helped us in Haiti who didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry, that’s not our problem,”’ Clinton said. The United States, he said, “has been very well served by countries that have been willing to stand up with us, to stand up for good and right things that also affect our interests.”
Clinton, who will visit U.S. forces bound for Bosnia during a stop at Baumholder Army Base in Germany today, said that the troops will not have a “risk-free mission” in Bosnia but that he holds their safety as a primary concern.
While there, Clinton said, he hopes to assure those troops that they will go to the former Yugoslavia with “very robust rules of engagement” and a distinctly defined mission.
But, he said, “what I will tell them is that it is not a risk-free mission. Indeed, being in the military is not risk-free.
“I will tell them we have done everything we can to minimize the risks,” Clinton said.
Clinton said he wants to assure the troops that they can use “decisive, indeed overwhelming force” if anyone takes action against the U.S. forces who will be part of a NATO effort to enforce a U.S.-brokered peace agreement reached in Dayton, Ohio, last month.
Despite unease in the United States about the mission, Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., said Thursday he would introduce a resolution in the Senate in support of the deployment. Clinton said he was gratified and that it was a first step in making the Bosnia effort a bipartisan one.
Clinton concluded his visit to Ireland here as he began it in Northern Ireland on Thursday - pressing for both sides to work for a full peace agreement in the sectarian conflict that has beset the north for 25 years and praising them for taking the risk to do so. “You are an inspiration to people around the world,” Clinton said. “You have made peace heroic.”
Later, he told tens of thousands of cheering, flag-waving people at a lunchtime rally near Trinity College that success in the peace process “will lift your neighbors in Northern Ireland. … If there is peace in Northern Ireland, it is your victory too.”