|ASSESSING THE PEACE|
June 11, 1999
Following an interview with President Clinton, Margaret Warner talks with three foreign policy experts about the outcome of the war in Yugoslavia and NATO's peacekeeping mission.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, three perspectives on what the President had to say. They come from Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State in the Bush administration; Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Carter; and Lee Hamilton, who was a Democratic congressman and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, now Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
So, Secretary Eagleburger, do you share the President's assessment, basic assessment of this mission, that it was a right thing to do, a noble thing to do?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: It was a noble thing to do. I have real questions about whether it was the right thing to do, particularly in terms of what we have not seen that are going to be the unintended consequences of what we have already done. But I won't argue for a minute on the nobility of the cause, although I have very serious questions about what follows on now.
MARGARET WARNER: And is that -- on that basis that you question whether it was right?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: Yes. It's -- this is a very tough one, at least for me. I can understand an argument that says the superpowers -- superpower of the world cannot stand by and watch a humanitarian tragedy without doing something. On the other hand -- and I tend toward the argument I'm now about to give you, which is having said that, unless there is a direct relationship to a U.S. national interest, I think we have to be very careful about how we become involved, when we use force, and we need to understand much more clearly than I think has been the case this time that there are, in fact, consequences which must be thought through in some serious way before we undertake the use of force.
MARGARET WARNER: Where do you come down on this question, the basic point the President laid out?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I come down where I came down 80 days ago, namely that it was necessary -- that the President, but not just the President and the United States, but the alliance had no choice. And it wasn't just an American decision to do it. The alliance wanted it. The alliance unanimously needed it. And the fact is that 170,000 Kosovars had been displaced already before the action started. So it was necessary. I hope, however, it is concluded well. And of that I'm still somewhat uncertain.
|Future U.S. military engagement.|
MARGARET WARNER: Do you agree, Congressman, the President also said that he thought the free nations of the world should be organized to stop something like this, meaning ethnic killing.
LEE HAMILTON: Well, it's a wonderful concept. The question is how you do it. I wonder about the precedent of Kosovo. This is an extraordinary precedent. We move in with all of the power and force of NATO into a sovereign country where a dictator is mistreating its people. I don't know that that's been done before. The President says, suggests that we're going to do that in the future. How are you going to do it, where are you going to do it, who is going to do it -- are questions, I think, that are going to linger here. He made a very important qualification to that. And that qualification was where we're able to do it, where we have the capability. And he suggested we don't have the capability in Africa, but one of the lingering questions here is what is the precedent of Kosovo.
MARGARET WARNER: And what do you think the precedent is?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: I share the chairman's view. What we are in danger of establishing is a view that this kind of intervention is something that regularly should be engaged in. I don't want to carry that too far. But now having done this one, I suspect administrations in the future are going to face a great more difficulty arguing why they shouldn't do it again if what you get a case somewhat akin to this one. And, again, the point that the chairman made, the President's idea is a wonderful concept. But the fact of the matter is the international community is not yet organized to do this sort of thing. I would like to see us try to get it so organized. But in the meantime, I don't want the U.S. necessarily each time, until we get ourselves organized, as sort of the leader in trying to solve these problems.
MARGARET WARNER: Give me your thoughts on another matter Jim discussed with the President that you've been on the show discussing, which is the use of ground troops or not. Now the President said, in fact, we would have used them if they were needed and that he had no doubt that NATO would have gone along with that. What did you make of that?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, I thought that was an interesting observation, because I didn't have the impression that he was all that prepared to use them. In fact, he rather excluded them for quite a while. Then towards the end when the bombing got heavy and Milosevic still wasn't giving in, he began to emit indications that he might use them. And I think it is a good thing he did that because I think it helped to convince Milosevic that we'll see it all the way through, and it helped to induce him, in effect, to concede.
|Ground troop intervention.|
MARGARET WARNER: And what's your view of the conduct of the war, the ground troops issue?
LEE HAMILTON: Well, once the war began, I think the conduct of it was
good. The problem the President confronted was not just winning the
war in winning defined in NATO terms, but he had to do it in such a
way that he didn't blow the Russian relationship out of the water, didn't
blow the Chinese relationship out of the water.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: Just the embassy.
LEE HAMILTON: Only the embassy. And he had to do it in such a way that he maintained the unity of NATO. So he was balancing a lot of objectives here, and I think he achieved them reasonably well. The criticism that will come, I think, will be the lead-up to the war. Was it necessary to use force? Could there have been diplomacy other than the Rambouillet incident - agreement -- and of course the follow-up. We don't know whether we have a victory here or not because the whole war was fought about the future of Kosovo. And we're not going to know the future of -- we're not going to know the success or failure of all of this until we know the future of Kosovo.
MARGARET WARNER: You wanted to jump in here.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, that's very important because I think the future of Kosovo really very much depends on it not being partitioned.
MARGARET WARNER: On not being partitioned.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Not being partitioned. And I am concerned, concerned that we may be moving towards a situation of a de facto partition, because the indicators regarding the Russian moves in my view are quite serious actually. There are some indications that there may be Russian planes landing into Pristina tomorrow. The Russian force that moved from Bosnia into Serbia obviously moved on the basis of collusion between Yeltsin and Milosevic. And there may be, in effect, a joint Russian-Serbian plan to partition Kosovo. Moreover, there are, I think, some grounds for being concerned that our top military command, including SACEUR, are under some degree of persuasion to accept a de facto zone for Russia considering it, defining it as a military level solution. And I don't think that SACEUR can accept that given the fact that the mission he was ordered to undertake was to create a situation so that the refugees would feel safe to come back and they will not feel safe to come back if there is a de facto Russian zone. In fact, some Serbs are already dancing on the streets, quite literally in Pristina, claiming that we are being preempted. Our own plans to deploy forces in Pristina have been put on hold in the context of this debate in which the military are being pressured to assume political responsibility.
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: Let me go on from this. Dr. Brzezinski is right, particularly in terms of the concerns that the Russians have been playing. It's more than that in the Kosovo that worries me a lot, and it's one of these unintended consequences. Let's assume even for a moment that we don't get to this question of partition. I would predict to you that it may well be before too very long that NATO forces are in the process of defending Serbs against Kosovars. That really worries me. I think it is very clear, and it was one of the problems with Rambouillet, by the way, that the demand - or the statement that there would be an autonomous Kosovo. Milosevic knew from the beginning if he signed the Rambouillet agreement that was not what was going to happen. That is not what is going to happen now. It's even more clear that the Kosovars don't want to live under Serbian rule. So I think we are going to see a major drive over the next few years on the part of the Kosovars for independence.
And I'll even go further than that and say give it five years, and I think we've got, believe it or not, a greater Albania problem with the Albanians in Macedonia, for example, wanting to know, to hive off a part of that country and put it into Albania. When you begin to play with moving territory from outside -- from a sovereign state to some other state, you're setting a precedent to speak -- speaking of a precedence by the way -- that go much beyond Serbia and Yugoslavia and begin to scare an awful lot of people all over the world. Can I make one more point? The other thing that really bothers me and Jim tried to touch on it with the President, but not the way I see it. One of the things that really, really concerns me is the impression we have given the rest of the world over the course of this eight weeks of the bully on the block -- where we push a button and somebody out there dies and all we get is the cost of the missile. And it worries me -
|International perception of U.S. military|
MARGARET WARNER: You heard the President reject that. He said -
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER: But it was put to him in the wrong way. I'm not saying this has nothing to do with whether we should have bombed the Serbs or anything. Take it outside the context of this particular war. What we are seeing, and what the world is seeing at least, is the United States as the hegemon -- but it is the hegemon that is prepared to kill other people and not take any risks ourselves in order to demand of others what it is we want. Now, that may be an exaggerated view of the United States but it worries me - certainly that is true. That's the way a lot of Beijing people see it and Moscow. And I would suggest to you a lot of the rest of the world, it worries me - it also worries me in terms of the way we look at ourselves. We are beginning, after Iraq and now this war, we are beginning to think war is a very -- not a very costly thing. And it worries me both in terms of how we think about ourselves and how we are perceived abroad.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you share that concern, that certain bully on the block?
LEE HAMILTON: Absolutely. Secretary Eagleburger raises a very important fact here, and that is one of the things that comes out of all of this is a deep-seeded resentment against the United States, not just by the Russians not just by the Chinese, but also by the Europeans, who are now moving to establish their own military. We have to be extremely sensitive to the point that Larry made in our conduct of foreign policy. We're the most powerful country in the world. We are the indispensable nation and there are a lot of positive things that go with that. But there is a negative to it, and the negative is that countries and people begin to resent that power.
MARGARET WARNER: What's your view of this?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It has a lot to do with the way the war was fought, because the way the war was fought seems to have implied that we put a much higher value on the lives of our own professional soldiers than the thousands of Kosovars and perhaps hundreds of Serbs. So that I think has the effect of creating the impression of some sort of technological racism that motivates us. But those are very large issues. I really am concerned about the immediate future. It's very important the outcome of Kosovo on the ground at least be reasonably successful. And if we are not responsive to what may be a form of malicious deception with the Russians negotiating with us, but cutting a deal with Milosevic, if we don't handle that preemptively, we may end up even without the success we seem to have.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Briefly, in 30 seconds, what would do you about it?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I would make it clear to the Russians that there would be far reaching consequences for our relationship, and I would move preemptively into Kosovo because we have the means to do it with the aircraft, the helicopters and forces that are poised.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thank you three gentlemen very much.