US Congressman Calls for Resignation of US Secretary of State
[The call was made on 19 October 1993, citing US failure of policy in former
Yugoslavia, Somalia, Russia and Haiti. We reproduce here only the part dealing
with Bosnia, slightly shortened for reasons of space.]
With great regret and a heavy heart, I am here today to call publicly for the
resignation of Warren Christopher as Secretary of State.
On Bosnia, Secretary Christopher has vacillated, confused, and deliberately
obfuscated on the straightforward issue of Serb ultra-nationalist aggression.
In early February, he laid out our strong interests in the former Yugoslavia and
stated that how we responded to ethnic cleansing would be a test-case in the
postüCold War era. Within a few short months, he has reversed himself by saying
that we have no vital interests at stake and that our primary interest is in
stopping the conflict from spreading. In May, in perhaps his biggest affront to
justice and humanity, while thousands of lives hung in the balance, he tacitly
accepted flagrant violations of the UN Charter, numerous UNSC resolutions, and
CSCE principles. Two weeks ago, his Department of State overtly pressured the
Bosnian parliament to accept a partition agreement which would ratify Serb
aggression, dismember the sovereign state of Bosnia, and lead to officially
sanctioned ethnic cleansing and more fighting. Equally in error and for purely
political reasons, Secretary Christopher, against the advice of the relevant
bureaus in the State Department, is still steadfastly refusing to identify
Bosnian Serb atrocities as genocide. Since April, I have been trying to get a
straight answer from Christopher on this vital issue. I still have not gotten
one. These obfuscations, prevarications, and Pollyannaish acts are unacceptable
in an American Secretary of State sworn to develop and execute our foreign
policy with integrity and truthfulness.
Our country's Bosnia policy, driven by Christopher, has been an utter failure.
This fact alone should lead Christopher to do the honourable thing and resign.
More than 200,000 Bosnians - a figure that translates itself into one of every
twenty Bosnians, or one in ten Muslims, most of whom were innocent civilians -
have been killed, and a half of remaining Bosnians have been driven into exile
outside of the country's borders. More than 380,000 people are in the
eighteenth month of a siege of Sarajevo, but Secretary Christopher, again for
purely political reasons, will not honestly describe this situation as a brutal,
full-blown, terrorist siege. Sarajevo is a giant concentration camp and, just
as during the Holocaust, the State Department cannot even muster the decency to
acknowledge the nature and depth of the inmates' suffering. I suggest that
Secretary Christopher ask the people of Sarajevo, rather than his assistant
secretaries in Washington, whether it's a siege.
From the bitter experiences of World War II, we were taught one simple lesson:
"Never again". This stirring and profound phrase cannot be modified to read,
"Never again - unless we have to formulate a health care plan. Never again -
unless we cannot get sufficient support in the opinion polls. Never again -
unless the victims are MuslimsÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌà in Europe".
It is time for President Clinton to show strong leadership and articulate and
define a realistic policy for Bosnia, the Balkans, and other crisis points. Our
foreign policy is ultimately his responsibility. It is still early, and he has
ample time to act. If he does not, he will risk being remembered as a President
who capitulated to polls rather than one who led. He will be remembered as one
who, in the midst of slaughter all around him, sat passively, wrung his hands,
and achieved nothing but meaningless multilateralism and de facto isolationism.
It is also time for me to say what we have all being thinking for months. I am
a loyal Democrat and a strong backer of President Clinton. The best way to help
the President in his foreign policy now is to encourage him to appoint a new
Secretary of State who can drive our policy rather than be driven by daily
happenstances. I do not doubt that Christopher is a good and decent man who has
distinguished himself in other spheres of endeavour, but, if he continues on his
present course, he will do further damage to US security and national interests.
The post-Cold War era is unravelling, brush fires are igniting throughout the
former Soviet Union and elsewhere, and our inaction is fanning the flames. We
need a strong hand in foreign policy. Christopher must resign, and the
President must select someone who can win the respect, confidence and faith of
our allies, our Congress, and the American public.