7,000 Muslims were killed in Srebrenica. UN forces stood there & watched. I thought about the times I’d been told that the Bosnians were not able to defend themselves against the Serbs. Of course they couldn’t. They had no weapons. The UN had seen to that. The UN had disgraced itself.
I went back to the Senate to go on the record. “Time does not work for these people. They will all be dead by the time the West decides to do anything about this problem. We have stood by and watched something no one thought would ever happen again in Europe. It is happening now.” The next day, nearly three years after I’d called for the plan, the Senate voted to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia. The House followed. NATO began its air campaign
And he did. In March 1999, I introduced a resolution authorizing the president to use any means necessary to stop Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. With Clinton resolved to act, NATO began bombing Serb targets in 1999.
From the first days of the bombing, the criticism of Clinton by the Republicans was withering. But through the 78 day campaign, Clinton never wavered in public. I got worried about his resolve once. Clinton asked, “What would you say to my halting the bombing?” I said, “I’d call a press conference and say you reneged on a promise. Do not yield. Milosevic will capitulate.”
I have no idea if my advice had any effect on Clinton, but he did not halt the bombings. He kept the pressure on, and it paid off.
I thought this approach was flawed. The facts showed that terrorist groups didn’t base their training camps in countries with strong governments or dictators; they found safe haven in failed states & grew stronger in the vacuum of power.
There was a lot of noise about overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Of the three Axis of Evil countries, Iraq was the country that could put up the least military resistance, and I believed Cheney & Rumsfeld were pushing the president toward an invasion
But the president was giving personal assurances that he would try every avenue of diplomacy before he took the country to war. And it was clear that Colin Powell and members of the Joint Chiefs were not eager to go to war in Iraq. With that in mind, I decided to vote for the resolution.
I believed the resolution passed by Congress provided the firm & united support Powell needed to be able to get the United Nations Security Council to pass and enforce a new resolution that got the inspectors back into Iraq, kept Saddam in his box, and thus avoided a war. I wasn’t alone in that.
I made a mistake. I underestimated the influence of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the neocons; I vastly underestimated their disingenuousness and incompetence. So Bush went to war just the way the neocons wanted him to--without significant international backing.
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