U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth said her trip to Bosnia left her with a renewed dedication to U.S. aid to the war-torn region, but didn’t change her mind against the use of U.S. troops.
Chenoweth, who returned to Washington, D.C., Tuesday night, has sharply opposed President Clinton’s deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia to enforce a peace agreement.
“The highlight of my trip was meeting with the troops,” the Idaho Republican said Wednesday.
“I was so incredibly proud of them. They are fit. They are disciplined. They are so well-trained.”
Chenoweth said she had lunch with two young servicemen from Boise and Orofino.
“I was happy to tell their parents they look great.”
But Chenoweth said she remains opposed to the troop deployment.
“I do not believe we should unduly risk the lives of our young men and women.”
She added, “We must make our gestures of help in the right way.”
The freshman representative said she believes the United States should help the Bosnians by providing arms and technology, “helping them get on their feet and achieve independence and freedom.”
Chenoweth was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation that met with top Croatian and Bosnian officials.
A Croatian official spoke with the group in Zagreb.
“His feeling was that people are so tired of fighting that peace can happen,” Chenoweth said.
Chenoweth said Zagreb seemed relatively unharmed. “In fact, as we drove in to the palace, I saw a Best store. I was just really surprised.”
But Sarajevo, where the group met with top Bosnian officials, was devastated.
“It looks like something out of the World War II annals,” Chenoweth said.
“That beautiful city is nothing but a shell of what it was.”
And in the palace there, “the walls had bullet holes through them.”
Bosnian leaders told the group they need arms more than they need help from U.S. troops, Chenoweth said.
Chenoweth met with U.S. troops in Germany. She said she couldn’t help asking whether they would be adequately clothed for the winter weather they’ll face.
“The army assured me there’s a new kind of boot that’s been developed that’s going to make sure … with our space-age technology, to protect them from the cold.”
“Even though I’m a congressman, I still slip into being a mom.”
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