frontline online: the triumph of evil
james woods


He was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1986-1994. In the spring of 1993, Woods identified Rwanda as a potential crisis, but was told to remove it from the list because it wasn't an important area. During the genocide, he was involved in congressional hearings on Rwanda. In this interview he discusses how and why the West avoided getting involved in trying to halt the genocide.

I think it was an enormous tragedy, preventable to some degree. I think the primary responsibility, of course, lies within the Rwandans themselves. The international community may not have responded rapidly or effectively.  But the international community was not killing Rwandans. It was Rwandan killing Rwandan.
Did Rwanda come at a difficult time for peacekeeping?

I think it came at a very difficult time for the international community and, especially, the United States. I think it was, initially, perhaps not recognized as that difficult for the U.N. But the way it unfolded, it turned into a watershed event for the U.N. The U.N. basically baled out, finding that the international community had baled out even sooner.

What was the effect of Somalia and pictures on CNN on the U.S.'s attitude towards peacekeeping?

I think the actual effect was to precipitate a basic review of the circumstances under which we would get engaged in this type of operation. The outcome of which was laid down on day one, which was to establish criteria which would narrow the possibility that we would get engaged. This resulted in a formal presidential determination or directive (PDD 25) in May of '94 ... which set out a bunch of criteria--strong identifiable national interest; clear exit strategy; and on and on. A set of guidelines under which the U.S. would be prepared to get her own forces engaged and/or to authorize the U.N. to get engaged and this crystallized a growing body of resistance to these type of potentially dangerous humanitarian interventions, which was widespread in our own military and, for that matter, on Capitol Hill ...

Why this great mood of resistance to peacekeeping in the Pentagon?

I think several reasons. The first question is: Why is it our responsibility to send our own troops to get killed in every remote corner of the earth? That's a legitimate question. Secondly, the feeling that the politicians and diplomats would commit to the use of force when there were no clearly established objectives, no clearly established exit strategy, which is to say, you didn't know whether you were going in for 90 days or 10 years and a feeling that this all had to be codified and that the military would have to have a much larger voice in establishing the circumstances under which they would go in; and when they would get out. I think, fundamentally, it reflects two things. A distrust on the part of the professional military of the guidance that they had been getting from the political side and, secondly, a very legitimate question is: Whose responsibility? Is it in the modern-day world to deal with these kinds of problems? Why us? The argument that we're the greatest superpower; therefore, we're the world's policeman did not sell. On the other hand, one could say, "Well, it won't be us but it will be the United Nations, and we will strongly encourage and support them to take charge of these kinds of things."

... There had always been considerable suspicion, if you will, of the United Nations in conservative quarters in the United States and there had been an increasing distrust, partly, that was personalized. A lot of people felt that Boutros-Ghali had dragged us into Somalia, kept us there longer than necessary and the U.N. had dragged its feet on picking up its responsibilities; therefore, was complicit in the disaster which ultimately unfolded there.

People were frightened of Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary-General, dragging the U.S. into another conflict?

Well, they sort of said, "We're not going to let that happen again." I think [that] was the attitude and by establishing a formalized doctrine, this presidential directive for the United States, they would set a rigid set of criteria, which, I believe, were tailored to make it very, very difficult to launch the United States military into this kind of adventure again.

The officials in the United Nations say they didn't ask the United States to help with an airlift when they considered putting troops in, because they felt the U.S. wouldn't have agreed. Was there any chance of the U.S. airlifting troops to Rwanda?

That's an entirely speculative question. If the U.N. had decided to make a vigorous response and had made an urgent request to the president to airlift them in, there would have been a very good chance that we would have responded positively.

You think if the U.N. had asked, the U.S. might have agreed to an airlift?

Yes. I mean, you don't know if you don't ask. The fear would have been that that would be the first step on a slippery slope. First the airlift and then the logistics and then this, that and the other thing. But it would have been hard to turn it down. However, both the U.S. and the U.N. would have had to have painted a much more realistic, which is to say, bleaker picture of the catastrophe, which was rapidly unfolding.

The U.N. would have had to have come up with some pretty grim reports of what was going on?

Yes, with credibility. We would have to have had an acknowledgment in Europe, in New York and in Washington that there was an unfolding genocide and that something needed to be done most urgently. If the U.N. under those conditions, had said, "Let's reinforce our troops, authorize the use of lethal force and try to put this thing down," and called on the U.S. to play its own part, there would have been a good chance we could have been persuaded or shamed into participating.

Was any such appeal made?

Not to my knowledge, but then, perhaps, it was discussed in New York. The U.S. has a mission at New York. Or it might have been discussed at higher levels.

But at your level in the Pentagon, you weren't aware ...

I don't recall of it. I don't recall such a request.

No request from the U.N. for airlift or ...

No, but it wouldn't be made at my ... it would be made through diplomatic channels. Normally, what they do ... nobody likes to be turned down and humiliated by a rejection so these things are discussed informally. My guess is, if it was considered at all, if you would, feelers were put out and it was decided that the U.S. might not respond, so why ask? There's another theory, that the U.N. itself didn't want to get involved. Well, there had to be some leadership somewhere--London, New York, Washington--that acts of unspeakable atrocity are under way, that this is a genocide, something must be done now, immediately, to stop it. The U.N. should take the lead. And if that had been made clear to the public, then I think it would have been very difficult for the United States to refuse a request to support a U.N. intervention. But there wasn't any such reaction. Instead, I would say, everybody was in damage control, "Let's try to evade the reality of what's going on," whether it was Europe or New York or Washington. They didn't want to know the full dimensions of this thing and, thereby, assume the responsibility of having to deal with it.

Why didn't they want to know?

Because everybody was partially traumatized by Somalia. I think it was a failure of leadership throughout the international community--Europe, New York, Washington. People didn't want to really grasp and admit that they knew and understood what was happening, because they didn't want to bear the consequences then of dealing with it. They did not want an intervention. So we went into a two-month dance of what I would call diplomatic escape and evasion. The people at the lower levels, the Africa specialists ... the people at the White House, people in the Pentagon who were reading the all-source intelligence on this (which is foreign correspondence, the reports from the NGOs, the hate radio intercepts) had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Although, even we, underestimated the extent of the killings and the rapidity with which this thing was unfolding. But the higher echelons, whether it was State or Defense or the White House, were not really interested in dealing with the problem. That's my view of it.

I think the principal problem at the time was a failure of leadership and it was deliberate and calculated because whether in Europe or in New York or in Washington, the senior policy-making levels did not want to face up to this problem. They did not want to admit what was going on or that they knew what was going on because they didn't want to bear the onus of mounting a humanitarian intervention--probably dangerous--against a genocide. Consequently, instead of planning to move in and address the problem and try to put a stop to it, at the point of a gun, the diplomatic community and the political leadership went into what we in the military called, "escape and evasion." And for two months they nattered on about, "Well, we're not quite sure. There are apparent acts of genocide but we're not sure that this is genocide. There are conflicting reports on casualties." I think much of this was simply a smoke screen for the policy determination in advance, "We're not going to intervene in this mess, let the Africans sort themselves out."

This, of course, had come in the wake of what everybody considers to be the fiasco in Somalia. The death of the 18 American Rangers in Mogadishu had occurred only six or seven months earlier and had totally traumatized the Clinton administration on these types of foreign interventions and they were afraid of bad congressional reaction, which there certainly would have been. Public opinion was not prepared for another humanitarian intervention and there isn't one American in 10,000 who's ever heard of Rwanda, and so it went. So there was a definite policy by us against intervention and the timing of the issuance of the presidential directive, only a month after the crash of the plane, the death of the two presidents. I think is very interesting because this codified by laying down criteria and rules that it would be very, very difficult to get the United States to make a decision to use its own military forces in humanitarian interventions in the future.

How early did the Pentagon realize this was a genocide?

There was never a formal recognition. Our lawyers are as good as the State's, but nobody ever told the lawyers to go into a room and consider this matter from a legal perspective. I think a common-sense understanding of what was going on within two weeks of the crash of the plane. I think the Pentagon knew, but was not about to open its mouth and say anything. It would, in fact, and properly so, defer to the White House and particularly the State Department and its lawyers to reach that legal conclusion.

But the Pentagon knew within a couple of weeks?

I think the people who were following the cable traffic, the press reports, the radio intercepts, yes, I think we all knew it. Now, I think we did not know, in fact, for many months after, the full scale that tens of thousands of people were being killed. It was known that this was planned, premeditated, carefully planned, was being executed according to a plan with the full connivance of the then Rwandan government. This was known.

Early on?

I would say within 10 to 14 days. The first week, there were a lot of conflicting reports and the American press had got it all wrong, I would say.

So how did you know? How did you know in the Pentagon that this was organized within 10 days?

I would say, the people who follow these things closely, whether in the Joint Staff or in the Defense Intelligence Agency or the office of the Secretary of Defense, I mean one has to use common sense and one's own brain and ... if you see statements, which have been coming out for a couple of years by so-called extremist elements in Rwanda, that they plan to do something like this, that they were laying the basis for it, and these warnings had been sent up the line, "Something really bad is going to happen and it's being organized." This was known well in advance. And then, it's happening. Now we have hate radio announcing the plan, calling on the massive killings, and we had reports from NGOs and from the European press as to what was going on. Never mind that the American press, which was poorly represented anyway, hadn't quite got it right yet, at all, in fact. Never mind that the embassy perhaps didn't know what was going on or wouldn't say. There was plenty of evidence around if you'd wanted to use it.

You could also, however, selectively pick out evidence for an opposite case, or at least, "Well, there are bad things happening, but it certainly hasn't met the criteria of genocide, certainly hasn't reached the point where we need to use international force, armed force, to go in there and intervene in what is basically a domestic quarrel." Everybody was looking for a way out, rather than for a way to, if you will, shoulder the responsibility for resolving this crisis. And that's the main point of Rwanda. For the Rwandans, the main point is a half million or maybe a million of them got themselves massacred and it probably will precipitate generations now of ethnic warfare and perhaps destroy Central Africa before it's over. But from the point of view of the international community and humanitarian interventions, it's a watershed event because it confirms what had developed in Somalia, which is it confirms that those who are against intervention would, at least, for the next decade, I suspect, or generation, generally prevail when the issue is raised, "Shall we or shall we not engage ourselves in addressing this problem?" Whether it's somewhere in the margins of Europe or in the Middle East or Africa or the Far East, I think the answer generally from here on out will be, "No," or "We will only do peacekeeping."

And the criteria the U.N. has got for itself now on peacekeeping operations: cease-fire; acceptance by all parties of the cease-fire; the peaceful role of the U.N.; and if the fighting resumes, we're out of there. This results in what I call the policy of, "We will only go where we're not needed." So since Rwanda it's been very much downhill for those who would advocate a vigorous international response, preferably led by the U.N. to these kinds of crises.

President Clinton has apologized for not appreciating the gravity of what was going on, letting it happen. Does that mean that next time, the U.S. will intervene in a genocide like this, if there is one?

No, I don't think so. I think genocidal acts are occurring right now within the Congo and we're not going to intervene, nor is the U.N. The U.S. now has its presidential guidance which sets forth a rigid set of guidelines, which would basically make it impossible to intervene. And the United Nations has also adopted its own criteria which make it very unrealistic for it to be useful in these kinds of crises because they're restricting it to a narrow view of Chapter Six peacekeeping--the parties must agree to the intervention; there should be a cease-fire; if the fighting breaks out the United Nations will do nothing to attempt to stop it. So what we've got is a policy which I characterize as, "We'll only go where we're not needed." If there's a serious international quarrel, internal or border war, the criteria are such that the United States and the United Nations and certainly nobody in Europe is going to do anything other than watch and what is called active diplomacy and that's not going to meet the needs. You're seeing it now in Central Africa where the African parties basically are disdaining, in some cases very rudely and openly, the proffered advice from the international community or the U.N. I've heard several African leaders speak here in town with complete scorn about--and it's their phrase--"the so-called international community."

Let me just wind back to Rwanda itself. If you realized that there was a genocide going on, but the administration wasn't saying so, didn't that make life rather uncomfortable at meetings?

Yes. And sitting at a congressional hearing and hearing the Department of State representative, who I'm sure in his heart understood fully what was going on and wanted to do the right thing, but being forced to waffle about acts of, but not quite yet, formally speaking, genocide. That was a very miserable day for me, probably even more so for my State Department colleague.

How did you feel?

How did I feel? I didn't feel personal shame because I felt that this was a decision which ... Actually it wasn't any decision, the decision was made before the crisis arose, "We're not going to get mixed up in it." I'd attempted in the spring of '93 when the Clinton administration came in ... [for] each foreign policy region within the Pentagon, we were asked to develop lists of what we thought would be serious crises this administration might face and forward that to the new Secretary of Defense, Mr. Aspin.

I put Rwanda-Burundi on the list. I won't go into personalities, but I received guidance from higher authorities, "Look, if something happens in Rwanda-Burundi, we don't care. Take it off the list. U.S. national interest is not involved and we can't put all these silly humanitarian issues on lists, like important problems like the Middle East, North Korea and so on. Just make it go away." And it was pretty clear to me, given the fiasco of the end of our involvement in Somalia, that we probably wouldn't react.

Tell me about the congressional hearing.

Well, I had to go up to the hearing, to accompany, I guess back-up would be the phrase, a Department of State witness. And then the Africa sub-committee, had obviously already made its mind up that an act of genocide was occurring and that something ought to be done about it. But, of course, the witness, the State colleague, simply had to evade and waffle, "Acts of genocide may be occurring but the evidence is not yet persuasive. We haven't had a formal finding. Our lawyers are looking at it," etc., etc. I'm sure he was as knowledgeable as I about what was happening and as eager to see the United States or the United Nations do something about it but I think the Africanist policy hands were tied by the feeling at higher levels of our own bureaucracy and by negative feelings on the Hill.

So you're sitting there next to this State Department official and he's saying...

Well, the committee kept pressing ... it was sort of the old, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck--what is it?" And the answer is, "We're not quite sure. It may be anything but a duck." But it was very obvious what was going on. It was the administration not wanting to get pinned down and, of course, if you get pinned down, "Yes it is genocide," when you're a signatory to a genocide convention, presumably you ought to do something about it and they didn't want to do anything about it.

But did you think of saying, "Look, we know what's going on. It's genocide."

If I had been asked, I might have said that on the premise that, you know, comment...

Do you now regret not being asked?

Not particularly because it wouldn't have made any difference.

Do you regret not saying anything?

No. Again, it wouldn't have made any difference. I mean, it was a miserable day, miserable performance. It couldn't have got any worse, couldn't have... Actually, it couldn't have been any better.

Miserable because?

Miserable because I think it was sort of a formal spectacle of the United States in disarray and retreat, leading the international community away from doing the right thing and I think everybody was perfectly happy to follow our lead--in retreat.

Now when UNAMIR II was mandated to go ahead with a more effective mandate of protecting civilians and with more troops--up to 5,500--something happened about APCs. Can you tell me about that?

The United Nations asked for APCs--armored personnel carriers. The administration agreed, in principle, to provide them and then, instead of providing effective leadership to drive this kind of a logistical issue through the Pentagon bureaucracy and getting them out there right away, it was allowed to proceed in its slowest, most tortuous manner and, of course, by the time they could have been there, it was all over. It was too late anyway.

But the point is, if there had been a sincere desire to do this, it could have happened very quickly and whether that would have made a difference, whether the force would, in fact, have gone in and undertaken this mission with the APCs, I don't know. But there was a lot of recrimination back and forth. The United Nations felt that we were not effectively honoring our offer and were sort of dragging our feet. I don't think we were deliberately dragging our feet, I think we were deliberately letting the process take its normal course, which would ensure that they would not be there in time.

You think it was deliberate not to get them there faster?

I think there were people in the Pentagon who had not been directed to make sure this happened and, therefore, were perfectly happy to sit back and let the whole process unfold over a period of months which, of course, made the whole thing pointless. Or perhaps, from their perspective, not pointless because it stopped it from happening. ... There were a lot of people who I know worked very hard to make it happen quickly, but there was not the top, high-level pressure and attention to make it happen. Instead, they got all bogged down in the issues of the exact terms of a lease; what color; who would paint them where; what kind of stenciling would go on and all of the other little details. And these things can either be resolved at a couple of meetings and then you take action and it's wrapped up in a couple of weeks or you can drag it out for months, which is exactly what happened. I say it was another indication of a complete lack of enthusiasm at the higher policy levels for us, in this instance, supporting the U.N. on an intervention.

Were people aware that while this was going on, people were dying?

I'm sure. Of course.

And ...

And. Where were the Belgians? I don't see the British Gurkha battalions either. Where was everybody? Everybody was hiding and the next time we have the crisis, which we are now having, where are they now? They're sending their diplomats scuttling about Central Africa.

And your feeling about all this at the time was ... ?

That we were missing a grand opportunity and this was, I thought, this would be a test. Had Somalia, in fact, traumatized us so we would be incapable in the future, at least the near future, of doing the right thing and, indeed, we were traumatized and we did not do the right thing. And I thought that was too bad and I was very glad I was about to retire, which I did, the following month.

At the Pentagon, did you ever feel, "I should be doing more."

No, I felt I'd done what I could but I think the whole system ... and it's not the Pentagon's failure, it's not the State Department's, it's everybody. Most of all, though, it's a failure of the leadership of the Western countries. I think really you'd say the reps at the U.N. ... to have those national leaders united on dealing effectively with these kinds of crises. I didn't see that leadership anywhere. Everybody is, "Well, if the Belgians have baled out, why should we do it? Where are the French? Where's somebody else?" And there was a theory that the United Nations was the sole surviving superpower to play this kind of leadership role and that's now been rather thoroughly debunked.

How did people take the news of the death of the 10 Belgian soldiers in the Pentagon?

Well, there was horror and consternation at the deaths and, particularly, that they died badly. But there was also consternation that they did not defend themselves. They did not draw their pistols. I think it tended to confirm in the minds of those people who were following U.N. peace operations that there was a lot of romantic nonsense built into some of the ground rules and this was another reason to steer clear of U.N. peacekeeping operations. That you would be putting troops in mortal danger without the means to defend themselves. If they were in mortal danger, which should have been clear to everyone, then they should have been much more heavily armed, there should have been many more of them and they should have had orders to fight to defend their charge and themselves. And the general reaction was ... I heard one person say, "Well, at least, you know, our rangers died fighting in Somalia. These guys, with their blue berets, were slaughtered without getting a shot off." It was a miserable failure on the part of the local commander, the U.N. operation in general and it became another reason why a lot of professional military felt U.N. operations are frequently feckless, the ground rules are wrong and you should steer clear.

You were in the Pentagon at the time. What was your reaction to the United Nations guarding VIPs with five or six soldiers, only to find themselves overwhelmed?

I think it's the worst possible outcome ... it's more of the make-believe and pretend aspects of these U.N. operations which is, you pretend you're going to help but when the crunch comes, you run for it. In this case, you don't put five people with light weapons out to guard important people who are going to be killed by large, armed gangs.

How did you feel about the actions of the force commander on the ground in those first 24 hours?

I think the first 24 hours were a period of tremendous confusion and I don't have any criticism. I think the force commander saw sooner than just about anybody else what was unfolding. I think he would have played a more vigorous, helpful, possibly decisively, positive role had he been given authority permitting him to do that.

One of the things that happened in that first week of April was that people were drawn into U.N. sanctuaries like the school at Don Bosco, only for the U.N. then to withdraw to the airport and abandon them. They were then slaughtered. Were reports of massacres such as Don Bosco coming in to the Pentagon?

They were coming in everywhere. As I say, not necessarily through official reporting channels, but there were reports to the U.N. and then back to Washington. There were European journalists who were on the scene ...

Did you have any specific reaction to the U.N. soldiers, not only, as it were, abandoning individuals they were guarding but abandoning whole groups of people--up to 1,000.

Oh, my personal reactions. At a personal level everybody following this was horrified. I think at the professional level, a lot of people were saying, "Told you so, this would happen. They have an inadequate capability and no stamina for this and the political leadership is lacking and what did you expect from a U.N. operation. Of course they're all going to get massacred and now it's happening."

So this kind of massacre seemed to prove the point in the Pentagon--don't get involved in this.

Not under U.N. leadership and I would have to agree with that. Unless you drive a large professional national contingent under the U.N. flag. For us, it's [given] that they're going to call on the Americans to do it.

Was there ever a moment that could have been seized to get the Americans on board and do something to prevent it?

I don't think so. I think it happened too fast

This must have been an extraordinary event to witness at the end of your career in the Pentagon.

Well, particularly coming on the heels of the bold talk back in '92, '93, maybe even a little earlier, the end of the Cold War, the sole surviving superpower, the new world order and other myths of our time. It was a considerable disillusionment, but one has to be realistic. It's not just a U.S. failure, it's the whole international community. It's not just executives, it's parliaments and congresses and it's the public, which I think is in total confusion about the state of international affairs, certainly in the United States. And in the absence of effective leadership to explain it to them, why would the public rally behind sending the 82nd Airborne to a place they've never heard of to sort out ethnic quarrels between people they've never met? I think it can be explained. I think that's what leadership is all about and if we're not willing to do it, then let's hope the U.N. do it but it was obvious, even before that hearing but the hearing sort of crystallized it for me. This announces to all who want to pay attention that, you know, the new world order is finished and we're not going to play our role as the superpower in obscure corners of the world anyway.

Do you believe the warnings signs of genocide were already there before April '94?

They'd been there for a couple of years. A lot of people chose not to believe them and people like myself, who are not Rwanda experts, didn't know whether to believe them or not. But there had been reports of plans for genocide. There had been reports of the arming of militias, the organization, the preparations if you will. And there had been some hate radio which was very frightening in the weeks immediately prior to this.

When the genocide began, the United Nations Secretariat said, "Look, don't blame us for not telling the Security Council what was going on. Superpowers like the United States have got their own intelligence assets. They must know what was going on." Did you?

Well, I think everybody knew what was going on but ... it's possible to know without officially knowing. I know I've seen all of these reports and my staff tells me what's going on, but I haven't really digested all of this and I can only give it five minutes every other Tuesday. So I think at the higher levels, they chose not to be well-informed and they chose not to think too much about it and hoped too it would all go away.

Higher levels in the Pentagon, the White House and the United Nations?

Everywhere. Everywhere. If there's a failure here, it's a failure of the whole international system and we're all in it.

President Clinton said in Rwanda that he and others had failed to appreciate the gravity of what was going on and apologized for that and the lack of action. How should we react to that apology?

Well, I think the apology was proper and overdue. I think failure to appreciate is an artful excuse for not wanting to appreciate the facts which, indeed, were presented to the White House and everybody else at the time. They knew. They chose not to know and they chose not to act. So I think we had a lot to apologize for, but it's not just the United States that owes the apology, it's the whole international community. We all failed to act and the facts were known in the capitals of Europe and in New York and in Washington. Within a week to 10 days, they knew what was gong on. They chose not to absorb, appreciate and therefore not to have to act.

And do you believe we have now learned the lesson of Rwanda, put this behind us ...

I don't know what the lesson is. Some people think the lesson is never again to get involved in these kinds of messes. Let whomever--the Afghanis, the Rwandans, whomever--sort themselves out and let God sort them out afterwards. I think the international community is in total confusion at this point. I don't know what the lesson of Rwanda is. There is a lesson that if the international community doesn't act, then tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people will die, but there are a lot of other places. We're not doing anything in the Congo particularly at the moment and there are acts of genocide under way there.

What was the atmosphere in the Pentagon about the Clinton administration getting them involved in the peacekeeping operation. What was the big fear in the Pentagon?

I think that, frankly, there was a concern that the White House was not strong in military planning and affairs and operations. There was suspicion that, particularly some of the early rhetoric, that had had a tendency to volunteer U.S. troops for all sorts of foreign adventures and there was a very great concern among the professional military that we would get prematurely committed to ill-considered foreign adventures and people would die and get hurt and there was a lot of skepticism and caution. Events in Somalia and the fact that we bailed out as soon as the Rangers were killed and then the White House sort of saying, "Gee, we didn't really understand what was going on," a lot of this left a very... created a good bit of alarm and left a very bad taste and anxiety in the Pentagon.

Is the White House right to claim that it wanted to do something early on in Rwanda but was held up by the Pentagon, couldn't talk it round?

The short answer is, I don't really know. My suspicion is that high level contacts were made and probably high levels in the Pentagon indicated they would not be thrilled to get involved in an intervention in Rwanda. The basic point is that they shouldn't be asking, but because of the deference the White House has shown towards the military and I think their fear of criticism from the military, I think they've lost, to some extent, the mantle of leadership. With the White House the President is the Commander-in-Chief, he wants technical military advice and judgment, yes, but he shouldn't be getting political advice from the uniformed military. He should be telling them what he wants them to do.

So if President Clinton and the White House had said, Look this is what we want you to do in the Pentagon, it would have happened?

In my experience, and I had 34 years in the Pentagon, if after whatever argument has gone on for however long, if somebody, the president or somebody speaking for him stands up and says, "All right, this is the decision. Do it," the Pentagon will salute and go do it.

So if the White House had said, Airlift now Rwanda, it would have happened?

I do believe it would have, yes. The Pentagon is very good at following orders if someone has the courage to issue them.

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