NEWSMAKER: GENERAL JOULWAN
MAY 12, 1997
Retiring NATO Commander General George Joulwan talks with Elizabeth Farnsworth about his experiences in Bosnia, the future of NATO, and what should happen to Bosnian war criminals.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: General George Joulwan has been the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe since October 1993, a period that includes two deployments of U.S. and allied troops to Bosnia. He received his commission as an army lieutenant in 1961 just before the Berlin Wall went up. He will retire in July when NATO is expected to take on as new members several countries in Central Europe formerly in the Warsaw Pact. I talked to Gen. Joulwan at the Pentagon this morning.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
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ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: General, thanks for being with us.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe: It's a pleasure to be here.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: American troops and allied troops have been in Bosnia for just about a year and a half now. Are they accomplishing their mission?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Absolutely. I believe that what we were in for in terms of both IFOR, the implementation force, and now SFOR, the stabilization force, those objectives have clearly been met. We went in with the implementation force in the first year to stop the fighting, to separate the forces, to be able to police what we call the zone of separation, to demobilize the force to be able to put all the heavy weapons in storage areas and to be able to provide a secure environment for elections to be held. All of that has taken place, and I'm very proud of the effort that the military forces have done.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: As you know, reconciliation is--has not occurred. And there has been some criticism that the Defense Department basically, the people that make these decisions, interpreted your mandate, military mandate, a little too narrowly. For example, Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated the Dayton Peace Accord, made this criticism in the magazine “Foreign Affairs” recently, saying that it would have made reconciliation easier, for example, if the military had gone after the war criminals. What do you think about that?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, I think first of all, you know--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: People that have been indicted for being war criminals I should say.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: What I think has to be looked at is the mandate that we're given by the North Atlantic Council. After all, NATO is comprised of 16 nations, and the United States participates in that and really leads the effort, but we have a mandate of what we can do in terms of the objectives and missions and the guidance that we've received. And within that guidance we have carried out everything we've been asked to do. For example, the support that we're giving to civilian agencies right now is unprecedented.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Give me some examples. What kind of things are you doing?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: In terms of support to the OSCE, the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe, they're responsible for the elections, we have unprecedented support to them. We have twenty to thirty very high caliber officers imbedded in their election system. As Amb. Froehlich said, they would have had success last September if it were not for this group. We have that support, if not more. We're helping them print the ballots, secure the ballot areas. Millions of miles have been--been logged on our vehicles, so just a tremendous amount of support. In arms control, we have been the ones doing the inventory of many of these storage areas. We've turned over all of that to the arms control personnel with the international police task force. We are helping them in so many different ways and trying to help them do their job in training local police. We have been forbidden from doing police functions; that is--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Including picking up the indicted war criminals.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Exactly. And we have a memorandum of understanding between NATO and the International Tribunal that outlines what we can do. And what we cannot do is hunt down and arrest war criminals. If we come in contact with them, we can detain them and arrest them. We have been very proactive in doing this. I have not read Dick Holbrooke's article. And I have a great deal of respect for what he did in bringing Dayton about. But within the guidance that we've been given and within the mandate that we have, we've been very proactive. And I think the war criminals do belong on the Hague, but when you read the Dayton Peace Accords, it puts the responsibility primarily on the parties, the former warring factions, to comply with that. It then talks about what the local police should do and an international police task force. We are trying to support that within our capabilities.
I truly hope and I truly want to do all I can to get war criminals where they belong, which is at the Hague. But those are political decisions as well, and those political will and that political cohesion needs to be expressed by the international community loud and clear. And then we must have clarity in terms of mission and responsibility of what they want their military to do. And I ask for that clarity, and I think I owe that to the troops that we get that from our political leadership.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Do you think the troops that U.S. and allied troops will be withdrawn in June, 1998?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well--
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: That's what the President has said, and the Secretary of Defense.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, more importantly, that's what NATO has said, and NATO has made that decision in structure. Now, again, it's not very well understood. The guidance to me from NATO, which the United States is--is a nation--a very leading nation in that--said that my mandate for SFOR goes until June ‘98. And so that's--unless I get different instructions in our democratic system, we look to the North Atlantic Council to provide the political guidance that we operate within. June of ‘98 is what we're now targeted against for the removal of the stabilization force.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What do you think will happen? Do you think that fighting will start up again?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: That's an excellent question, and let me be as clear as I can. I have been pressing our political leadership, both here and in Washington, but primarily in the North Atlantic Council, that we should not be focused on June of ‘98. What we should be focused on is what do we do between now and June of ‘98 to try to set the best conditions we can so we could make an informed decision of what has to happen in June of ‘98, where will we be in opening up all the airports; can we have the telephone system installed; what can we do with the return of refugees; a whole series of questions of how can we build the right conditions so that we will be in the best possible posture in June of ‘98. That is not where the focus is, and that's where I urge the international community and particularly here in Washington that we focus on what can be done. And if we can do that, I think it will truly help us make the right decision in June of ‘98.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I imagine you don't want to speculate on whether fighting will start up again. I mean, I know that we're helping arm the Bosnians so that they will be more equal to the Serbs. You think they're going to use those arms, all the different entities?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, I would hope that we can give a very clear signal that there will be no more fighting. This is in the center of Europe. I think it's--it's unacceptable for any sort of war to break out again. That's absolutely unacceptable. And if you read annex 1 (b) on the arms control in the second paragraph, it talks about using this train and equip to achieve a balance. There's been an imbalance. And I just was in Bosnia last Wednesday and spoke to Madame Plosnick who's the president of the republic of Serbska and talked about this balance and how it isn't for one side to fight against the other side. It's to deter any fighting.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: We should remind people that that's the Serbian part of--
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Yes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: --of the--of Bosnia.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Yes. And--and so I think, again, we have to make it very clear that there will be no fight and that what we need to be able to do is focus on what can be done in the next say 14 months in order to create the best conditions. That's going to take a coordinated, cooperative effort by the international community, by the civilian agencies, by SFOR, by the North Atlantic Council as a team, one team working on one mission. And that's what I've been trying to urge for the last year and a half.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now, on NATO, you've been the military commander of NATO as it's trying to cope with perhaps having new countries enter. How will that work militarily? How will--let's say that in July the decision is made that the Czech Republic and Hungary and Poland come into NATO. Doesn't it cease to be NATO once those countries are in it?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, let me answer it this way. The first supreme allied commander was Gen. Eisenhower. At that time in 1951, there were 12 nations in NATO. We had enlargement from 1951 to about 1982 from twelve to sixteen. Article 10 of the 1949 Washington Treaty on NATO talks about how a sovereign nation and apply for membership. So I think NATO has to give a very clear impression that it is an open organization so that nations certainly can apply for membership. Whether they're accepted or not is a political decision. And so these nations that apply--and by the way 12 have said they want to--to be considered for membership. How many of those, if any, will be accepted, that's a political decision. The military side of that I think we can adapt to. And, by the way, what is so interesting is that we now have in Bosnia 34 nations with the United States providing troops to that effort.
In fact, today in the stabilization force the U.S. commitment is less than 25 percent. 75 percent is by other NATO nations and non-NATO nations. So we really have created, I think, a situation in Bosnia where as we come out of that, we can set a new security relationship in Europe. And by the way, the Russians have a brigade with us in Bosnia. And I have a three-star Russian general as my deputy at my headquarters in Monfeldt, so we have changed. And that is the--the issue of how do we look at the new mission of NATO, at the new NATO, but building on the rock solid foundation of the past. I'm very excited about the future based on what we see happening in Bosnia.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Speaking of the new mission of NATO, let's talk about the new mission just of the U.S. military overall. Your career, 36 years, you were--you were I believe in Germany when the Berlin Wall went up, right, and it stands until now--the wall's down, and all of these new missions that the U.S. military has been undertaking in recent years--what is the role of the U.S. military in this post Cold War world?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Well, I really believe that the terminology now from the Cold War is over--I truly believe the post Cold War period is over, and we're entering a new phase. We--we now have a possibility, I think, from both this--the U.S. military side to engage in peacetime in order to prevent conflict. Twice in this century the United States did not in the first 50 years. We had the bloodiest century on record, and so now we have an opportunity, I think, to shape events in a way that can prevent conflict and provide stability, and that's so important.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Excuse me for interrupting, but is what's new in this, the military would play a role in trying to shape the events to prevent war?
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: The key is we are playing a role.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Right.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: We are engaged with 27 other nations now. We are carrying out seminars, exercises with all these different 27 nations.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: This is in the partnership for peace.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Partnership for peace, which is an engagement strategy to try to say how do we create trust and confidence, how can we create stability so then investment can come in, so democracy will take root? The mission did not end with the fall of the wall or the collapse of the iron curtain. The objective was never the Berlin Wall. It was the rest of Eastern and Central Europe. How do we interact to create democratic societies that can live in peace and freedom with respect for the dignity and worth of the individual?
General Marshall in the Marshall Plan 1947 had this vision which included Eastern and Central Europe and, indeed, the Soviet Union at the time. Fifty years later Marsha ll's vision, his dream, is closer to reality. That's the objective. And if we can do that, that is in U.S. strategic interest. That is in the world's interest. And if we can do that, we will create an environment of a Europe whole and free, from the Atlantic to the Urals. That hasn't happened in hundreds of years. At a very small price--we had 350,000 troops there in the Cold War--we have about 100,000 there now--we've got our allies engaged. We've got our partners engaged with us. It's a great opportunity. And that, to me, is the future. And that's the role of the U.S. military. That's what the new strategy is that's being developed now.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Gen. Joulwan, thank you very much for being with us. And good luck in your retirement.
GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN: Thank you very much. As always, it's a pleasure to be here.