As Clinton Waffles on Policy Issues, Bosnia Suffers

by Matthw Berry | 5/16/94 5:00am

Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution requiring President Clinton to unilaterally lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian Muslims. The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), was approved by a narrow 50-49 vote with 37 Republicans and 13 Democrats voting in the affirmative.

Earlier the same day, the Senate passed another resolution dealing with Bosnia. This one urged President Clinton to seek support from European countries and the United Nations before lifting the arms embargo. The bill, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-ME), was also approved by a 50-49 margin with all fifty affirmative votes cast by Democrats.

Stating the obvious, Senator Clairborne Pell (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said of the two resolutions, "They are contradictory. The Senate has not behaved correctly in passing both."

One could argue that the Senate is merely following the President's lead. Ever since taking office, President Clinton's Bosnia policy has ranged from incoherent to pathetic.

While Clinton has repeatedly asserted that the United States has an important interest in turning back Serb aggression and ending the massacre of the Bosnian Muslims, his entire policy has been a series of empty threats against the Serbian government of Slobodan Milosevic.

Last April, Clinton argued in favor of lifting the arms embargo against the Muslims and performing targeted air strikes against Serbian military positions. Before implementing these ideas, he sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to consult with our European allies.

Because the Europeans objected, Clinton abandoned his previously announced plans. By doing so, he essentially gave the Europeans veto power over United States foreign policy. Instead of leading the world, the U.S. was reduced to having its foreign policy dictated by France, Germany and Great Britain.

Since this fiasco, the Clinton administration has continued to make threats against Serbian forces. Each time, the Serbs do just enough to comply with our demands and then go back to the business of ethnic cleansing.

A typical example of the Clinton administration's ineptitude is the recent episode in Gorazde. As the Serbs advanced towards Gorazde, a city controlled by the Bosnian Muslims, Defense Secretary William Perry announced that the United States would not take military action to save the city.

Accepting Perry's invitation to capture the town, the Serbs proceeded to launch a brutal assault against Gorazde. Shocked by the carnage, including the destruction of Gorazde's hospital, the United States finally intervened briefly to attack Serb forces.

The U.S. then demanded that the Serbs peacably withdraw from Gorazde by a set deadline or face further American attacks. While the Serbs did eventually leave Gorazde, they missed the deadline and destroyed everything they could as they left the city. Despite the obvious flouting of America's ultimatum, the Clinton administration did not take any action against the Serbs and amazingly proclaimed its policy a success.

It is now time that the Clinton administration follow the lead of Bob Dole and Senate Republicans. The United States must stop making excuses and start leading the world community to support the Bosnian Muslims. To begin down this road, two steps should be taken.

First, the U.S. should immediately and unilaterally lift the arms embargo against the Bosnian Muslims. If the West is not going to defend the Muslims against Serb aggression, we should at least let them defend themselves. The current arms embargo is immoral and makes the United States an accomplice to Serbian war crimes.

Second, the Clinton administration should demand that the Serbs accept the Muslim-Croat plan for partitioning Bosnia. Under this proposal, the Serbs would be given approximately 42 percent of Bosnia while the Muslim-Croat federation would be left with the remaining 58 percent of the nation.

If the Serbs do not accept this plan and end the war, the U.S. should begin bombing selected targets within Serbia. If the Serbs want to continue waging a war on Bosnian soil, then let them go without electricity, clean water, radio and television. The U.S. must make it clear that Serbia will bear a tremendous cost for continued aggression.

The Clinton Bosnia policy has eroded America's credibility in the world and done nothing to stop the war. President Clinton should stop listening to his incompetent advisers and start taking the advice of those with a proven record of foreign policy accomplishment. It's time to listen to the Republicans.

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