Chenoweth Backs Troops, Bashes Policy Lawmaker Off To Bosnia On Mission Of Her Own
U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth leaves for Bosnia this morning as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.
The group will first meet with U.S. troops in Frankfurt, Germany, who are on their way to Bosnia. It also will meet with the heads of the warring factions and representatives of other nations involved in peacekeeping efforts.
Although Chenoweth, R-Idaho, is outspoken in her opposition to sending troops to Bosnia, she said she will encourage the troops.
“I will tell them as a congressman we will be giving them all the support they need. While we support them very, very strongly, I’ll be working very hard to bring them home as soon as possible.”
She added, “I wish I could send about 14 of ‘em home, and I could stay there and fight in their place.”
Chenoweth said that while she remains deeply opposed to the action, she wants the U.S. troops in Bosnia to have all the support and all the firepower they might need. “I don’t think it’s contradictory,” she said.
“I’m a dove. I just want us to be the best-armed dove on the block.”
Chenoweth said she will board a plane early today, headed to Naples and Frankfurt, then to Sarajevo and Tuzla. She will return Tuesday evening.
“We will be on the ground assessing what our troops will be having to deal with,” she said.
The delegation also will be “trying to firm up the exit policy” for troops, she said.
“We made the same promises - that we would only be there for 12 months - in Vietnam. We are involving ourselves in a far more complicated situation than we did in Vietnam.”
Chenoweth said she feels the mission in Bosnia is illdefined, the chances for success are not good and the American people aren’t supportive of the effort.
But she said she won’t tell that to the troops.
“I want them to know that we love them and support them and will think of them at Christmas,” she said.
She added that she opposes the action as a mother as well as a member of Congress.
Chenoweth’s Democratic opponent, Dan Williams, backs President Clinton’s plan to send in the troops. “The last thing we ought to be doing is undercutting the morale and resolve of the troops by taking potshots at the policy, and that’s what I think Helen has done,” Williams said.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.