FRONTLINE Producer Sherry Jones: Fred had, as you know, a long history of
coming up against the United Nations and specifically UNHCR, for which you
worked. Were his criticisms fair in the situation in Bosnia and Sarajevo.
LH: I think so. I think his criticisms were fair. But what Fred always tended
to forget is that the United Nations whether he likes it or not, it is a
political body and there is a political angle to everything. And no matter
which aid agency you're in, your masters eventually have to answer
politically. And Fred never ever saw that. Fred's attitude was to go through
the wall and do it because this is the humanitarian way to do it. And a lot of
us agreed with that. But no matter how much of a maverick you are within the
United Nations you nevertheless still have to conform to some of its rules and
regulations. And at the end of the day you masters have a political slant and
they will impose upon the plan.
FRONTLINE: How could he not understand that?
LH: I think he understood it but he didn't want to understand it. He didn't
want to accept it. He thought that you could short circuit it and get better
FRONTLINE: Give some examples of the things that were frustrating him, making
him angry, that perhaps people like you agreed with.
LH: Fred would say if something is needed here let's put in here. Whereas
from the United Nations point of view you'd have to say okay let's put it
there, but what happens if when we're putting it there the other two sides say
you can't put it there. Are we on one side. Are we on all sides. Shall we
build three of them. The other point is that if we put it there and somebody
blows it away, do we buy a new one, and put a new one there? Fred's attitude
would have been put it there and tell everybody leave that alone, and that's
it. That's the only one you're getting. Leave it alone, everything's okay.
And then he would walk away and, and it would be left there. Now we were aware
of the fact that every time we did something, it was blown out, moved and
shifted. Again I think because we were the United Nations people are toying
with this, this powerful organization. You're being twisted and shunted and
pushed because they want to try to get you to respond, they want you to carry
out a plan which is best for them. Now Fred was completely devoid of all of
this. Fred's was single minded. We'll do it this way. And this is the result
we're going to get.
FRONTLINE: Do you think that in this situation the West, the United Nations
should have been neutral?
LH: My own view is you can never be neutral wherever you go. And you can
never be seen to be neutral because whichever crisis you're in, you're going to
be feeding one side or another at some time of the day. And when you're
feeding one side, the other side won't like it. The fact that you may actually
give exactly the same to the second side as you give to the first side doesn't
make any difference. Whilst you're delivering it or giving it you'll be
criticized by the other side. And in a case like Bosnia where there were three
sides, you could never get it right.
FRONTLINE: There's not a soul that I've talked to who lived in Sarajevo during
the siege who doesn't criticize the West in general, the United States in
particular, for not standing up to the bullies, not standing up to the Serbs.
LH: I think everybody would agree with that. I mean there's no question if
you lived in the city as we did and you could look around the hills and you
could see the guns in the hills and then you could hear them firing into the
blocks of flats and whatever, you'd say ... well, we all said to ourselves,
"What is going on? Is this really 1992 and 1993, 1994. Can it be possible that
there is somebody up in the hills just shelling innocent people." And the
answer is: It was possible. It was absolutely true. And it was happening.
When indeed America did decide to do something, of course it changed the whole
scene. IFOR, SFOR, has done what should have been done in the first place. No
question about that. It needed American involvement from the start. You
can't just make noises. You have to get out and put people on the ground and
do the job. And I have no doubt in my mind if you'd done that earlier on, the
whole war would have been foreshortened.
FRONTLINE: Why didn't we do it?
LH: I don't know. I have no idea at all. I mean certainly Mr. Clinton was
aware of it because he was sort of making a lot of noises. "Oh yes, let's arm
the Muslims, let's arm the Bosnians." As if that was going to solve
everything. What was needed was strength, and no one was prepared to show the
strength that was needed.
FRONTLINE : In that kind of situation it sounds like what Fred was doing was
right in a sense.... he was railing against the inaction of his own
LH: Fred was a very frustrated man. He had worked in lots and lots of theaters
where Uncle Sam had produced marvelous results. He knew the capability of
American money and American force and American strength and he realized it just
FRONTLINE: Why do people like you and Fred spend your lives going to the
world's worst places?
LH: It's exciting. I think that's a fact. But also it's where the greatest
need is. If you have these skills and if you want to display these skills and
you want to use your skills, that's the best place to be. But also I have no
doubt about it, it is the fact that it is exciting. It's the same reason why
the journalists get hooked on war zones and whatever. There is a very special
buzz about operating in places which have a high crisis and a high risk. And I
just think Fred certainly was set on fire by it, that's for sure.
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