Jun 04 1998
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), issued the following statement at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held today on U.S. Military Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina: "I would like to say a few words about Bosnia, but first let me say a few words about Kosovo. The risk is growing every day that the Serbian crack-down in Kosovo will spill over into Albania, Macedonia, and perhaps into a larger Balkan War. At the same time, the independent-minded leadership now in Montenegro, Serbia's only remaining partner in the Yugoslav federation, may provide some additional leverage on Federal President Milosevic. "The U.S. has no specific interests in Kosovo other than humanitarian ones. We do, however, have important national interests in preventing a large-scale Balkan War. We hear talk of NATO considering placing forces on the Albanian and Macedonian borders. We hear condemnation of the Serb crack-down. Astonishingly, we have seen pressure for an arms embargo against Kosovo and the rest of Yugoslavia, as if that actually had some positive result in Bosnia. "But we have not had one whiff of a strategy coming from the Administration. The situation is urgent, and I strongly urge the Administration to develop a credible strategy for dealing with this situation. This does not necessarily mean the use of U.S. military forces. It does mean doing some serious thinking about the problem, about a possible and desirable outcome, and about a plan for getting there. Once there is a good strategy, we can then examine whether any use of U.S. military forces would make sense. Absent such a strategy, the use of U.S. forces would certainly not make sense. "I would urge the Administration to look at taking forceful steps to put a fence around the problem and prevent it from destabilizing any countries other than the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Carrots go to those who help us; sticks for those who don't. Perhaps the knowledge that any war he starts will affect only his own country may help bring Milosevic to a more reasonable solution. "I would urge the Administration not to have the U.S. play any role in ethnic conflicts per se. Our interest is in containing international conflict, not solving ethnic rivalries. If the Serbs and Kosovo Albanians enter an ethnic war, that is unfortunate. If that war spreads across the whole region, that is unacceptable. "The glaring absence of a strategy is a problem not only with respect to Kosovo. It is also the central problem of our Bosnia policy. "The Administration must do a much better job in setting realistic, achievable objectives in Bosnia -- looking beyond one fiscal year at a time. It needs to clarify the missions our military forces are being asked to carry out. It needs to give a serious estimate of the risks to our forces stemming from these missions. It needs to look seriously at the costs -- over several years -- of what a continued U.S. presence would mean. In short, the Administration needs to come up with a much more frank, much more realistic strategy than it has to date. "These failings of the Administration have led a number of my colleagues to put forward a variety of proposals for new deadlines for Senate votes, withdrawal plans, funding cut-offs, troop limits, and so forth. These ideas are no better than the Administration's setting a deadline in the first place. "I would like to offer six principles that I believe should guide our policy: 1) The U.S. has no permanent national interests in Bosnia. We are not interested in nation-building for its own sake. All we want is to create a self-sustaining peace. We must carry out our responsibilities and then get out. 2) Our withdrawal must not precipitate renewed warfare in Bosnia. 3) There must be no phony deadlines -- whether for a withdrawal date, a Senate vote, or anything else. We have all the power we need to act whenever we want. We don't need a deadline. We need sound policy. 4) There must be no funding cut-offs or troop limits. This would only hurt our troops on the ground. The real problem is policy making here in Washington. It needs to be solved here. 5) There must be no micro-management of the military. The Congress and Administration must provide political leadership. We must make the tough decisions and bear the consequences. The military's job is to implement our decisions as effectively as possible based solely on military considerations. The military has no business making political decisions for us, and we have no business making military decisions for them. 6) The U.S. must provide leadership. No other country in the world has the political, military, and moral authority to exert leadership. Simply packing our bags and walking away is not an option. We must not simply abandon our Allies. We must leave Bosnia, but with dignity and leadership, leaving behind a well-planned succession.