|GALLUCCI LOOKS BACK|
May 8, 1996
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Robert Gallucci joined the State Department in 1974 as a low profile career civil servant, but he leaves as a high profile ambassador at large, having negotiated the accord over nuclear reactors that averted a confrontation between North Korea and the United States. And most recently, he was responsible for the civilian rebuilding program in Bosnia. Last week, Amb. Gallucci left the State Department to become dean of the Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, among whose alumni is President Clinton. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for joining us.
ROBERT GALLUCCI, Former State Department Official: Thanks for having me.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: As you were leaving your post at the State Department, the United States was proposing new talks with North Korea to close the last front of the Cold War, the ultimate reconciliation. How do you see that going? Is that going to happen?
AMB. GALLUCCI: Uh, I can't predict the future, but I think the initiative was well timed. It comes at a time when we have been pretty successful at at least freezing and managing the threat that the North Korean regime had posed in the area of nuclear weapons. It comes at a time when North Korea is in--certainly in need of help internationally in terms of its economic situation.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Because its economy is in shambles, right?
AMB. GALLUCCI: It's economic is in shambles and also because I think the South Koreans certainly are prepared to engage the North Koreans, so I think the idea certainly was well timed. I think the concept of two plus two, where China and the United States would be available to assist in direct talks between the North and South, makes a lot of sense geostrategically.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Is this propitious in the same way that the collapse of Communism, the falling of--the falling apart, breaking up of the Soviet Union was, do you think?
AMB. GALLUCCI: Well, I think certainly one thing is true, is that the North Koreans are well aware of what's been happening over the last five or eight years. They are aware of just how isolated they are in any number of ways. Ideologically, their brand of Communism has no more reason to succeed than anybody else's does, and I just think that this is a good time if the internal situation in North Korea will permit for them to engage the South Koreans.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But Gen. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said that North Korea was going to either explode or implode.
AMB. GALLUCCI: I guess my own view about that is that the North Korean people have over the last 40 years or so put up with an awful lot of economic hardship. They have a very special personalized political leadership. And I'm not predicting any collapse of any kind in North Korea. I think it's possible certainly, and there are hard times. I think it be prudent for South Korea, for the United States, for the international community to deal with North Korea in terms in which we see it now, and that is a state that can be quite a threat to the international community but also can be brought into the community.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I want to move on to some other part of the world that you've been very involved in, but you've been more up close and personal with the North Koreans than most, and have a reputation for being secretive and isolated. How did you find them and do you have any secrets that you can share about how we should deal with them in the future?
AMB. GALLUCCI: I think certainly in negotiations with the North Koreans I think anybody who's dealt with them would, would note that, yes, there is a difference in dealing with the diplomats who represent a government that has been so isolated, a society that is strange by almost any measure, and so one sees less of, of what is being the negotiating position when dealing with North Koreans than say virtually any other country on earth. It's difficult, in other words, to see into a negotiating position. One has to keep one's eye on the objective that we have in those negotiations and try to drive them to it. There's less of an opportunity, I think in other words to disaggregate a position when you do not know the opposition's structure. And the North Korean regime is as opaque as any in the universe.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And they remained that way when you were with them?
AMB. GALLUCCI: I, I think over 16 months we got to know them a lot better than we did at that first meeting in June of 1993, but I don't--wouldn't say that they have become less of a mystery overall than they were over those months.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And what about Bosnia, what do you--what is the hardest thing you think in the road ahead with Bosnia now?
AMB. GALLUCCI: I think first of all the point to be made about Bosnia is that the military portion of the effort to support a peace in Bosnia has gone extraordinarily well, and we all ought to be very pleased and proud that IFOR, with one third American participation, has done such a good job under an American commander. That said, there's a very hard task of civilian implementation ahead of us, and we are all aware of that, those who worked on this problem in the United States Government with other governments.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: There have been so many questions raised about just this and so many assessments that this is the most difficult phase and many very pessimistic assessments this might not work. Was it hard for you to leave at this point? I mean, do you feel the job that you were working on is unfinished as far as your goal?
AMB. GALLUCCI: Uh, certainly, the job is unfinished. I had some months to work initially with Asst. Sec. Holbrooke when he negotiated the Dayton Agreement and then to begin the process for the United States of civilian implementation, but that process has a long way to go. It's from my perspective, yes, it was unfinished, and I had an opportunity that I decided I could not pass up and have moved on to Georgetown, but if I could say a word about the task ahead of the United States and other governments in, in Bosnia, it is, in fact, to help the people of Bosnia rebuild their country, and the emphasis I want to place right now is on the word help. Responsibility for this rests with the Bosnians. These people are capable of making reconstruction a success. We can help. We can help bring some justice through the Hague Tribunal activity. We can help with the reconstruction process with financial assistance. We can help with the resettlement of refugees. There's a lot that the international community can do but whether this is ultimately successful or not is going to depend on the people of Bosnia, the Croats in Bosnia, the Muslims, and the Bosnian Serbs.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But can there be--well--not but--can there be success in Bosnia if indicted war criminals like Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are still running around loose, unapprehended, with elections being predicted in the fall? Can all of that go forward with these guys still on the loose?
AMB. GALLUCCI: Let's be clear about this. Nobody, I think, who works on the subject of, of Bosnia, the problem in Bosnia, wants to see those indicted, particularly the high profile gentlemen you named, remain free. All of us, I'm sure, had dreams of personally handcuffing him and bringing him to the Hague. Maybe at some point that will happen. In the meantime, though, those elections are generally predicted. They're scheduled for August, and yes, the elections can go on, and we can have an atmosphere to permit free and fair elections. Whether we will or not will depend again to some degree on the international community's activism but principally on the people in Bosnia. Those gentlemen and the others who are indicted will be brought to justice when the people of Bosnia support that happening, and I hope it will be soon.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: It's not fair to ask you this with so little time left, but was this a rewarding career for you, and are you going to encourage another generation of young people like yourself, like you once were, to enter this profession?
AMB. GALLUCCI: It's a very fair question. I have enjoyed my work at the State Department, and in other areas in and around the State Department over 22 years, about as much as I think anyone can enjoy a career. I know I've been incredibly fortunate, incredibly lucky, but it's a terrific area to make a contribution to the nation, to the international community, and I'm looking very forward to making that case at Georgetown, where there are an awful lot of eager and enthusiastic and capable students.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Mr. Ambassador, thank you and good luck.
AMB. GALLUCCI: Thank you very much.