US Congress Votes to Lift the Arms Embargo
In a strong repudiation of the Clinton administration's Bosnia policy, both Houses of the US Congress voted with large majorities to lift the arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Senate voted on 26 July 1995, with 69 for and 29 against the Dole-Lieberman bill, but two additional Senators who were absent from the vote have indicated that they would support the bill. In the House of Represenatives, which voted on 1 August 1995, the votes were 298 in favour and 128 against.
The vote means that, for the first time, President Clinton will have to exercise a Presidential veto in order to prevent termination of the US embargo. In addition, the large bipartisan vote - in excess of two-thirds of both House of Represenatives and Senate - means that he will face a more difficult task in preventing Congress from overriding the veto.
The President has already informed Senators Dole and Daschle that he will veto the bill. He will have ten days (excluding Sundays) to do so. If the President exercises a veto, the bill then returns to the Senate, whih can take it up at any time during the remainder of the Congress.
The President will have to reverse the votes of at least five Senators (more, if Senator Dole convinces any of the five Republicans who voted 'no' to reverse their votes in order to 'override', the bill then returns to the House, where it must also receive a two-thirds 'yes' vote for the Dole-LOieberman bill to become binding.
In advance of the voting in Congress, thirty pro miÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌ´nent Americans, all members of the Steering Committee of the Washington-based Action Council for Peace in the Balkans, and sixteen national and twenty-nine regional organisations, wrote to each and every US Senator and Represenative seeking support for the Dole-Lieberman bill. We print below the two letters, with their signatories :
We are writing to urge you to support S21, the Dole-Lieberman bill to terminate the US arms embargo against the Bosnian government. This bill is scheduled to move to a vote this week.
In recent days two UN-declared 'safe areas' in Bosnia - Srebrenica and Zepa - have been allowed to fall into Serbian hands. These and other tragedies of the ongoing assault against Bosnia are the result of Serbian aggression, the failure of the United States and its allies to honour their commitment to protect the 'safe areas', and an immoral arms embargo that has unjustly deprived Bosnia's multi-ethnic government and army of the means to defend their citizens.
The embargo denies the UN-member state of Bosnia the means to exercise its inherent right of self-defence as acknowledged under the UN Charter. It has also enabled Serbian forces to capture seventy percent of Bosnia's territory, leave an estimated 200,000 Bosnian citizens dead or missing, and drive more than two million others out of the country or into internal exile.
As the Balkan conflict intensifies - with the Serbian forces escalating their attacks on innocent civilians - Congress must set the United States on the only path to a just and sustainable peace in Bosnia. This is why your support of S.21 is urgently needed. The July 21 allied decision in London to honour previously unhonoured commitmenets to defend Gorazde - but not Sarajevo or other remaining 'safe areas' - with air power is a long overdue step forward, but it is not enough. The Dole-Lieberman bill would complement and strengthen the decision to use air power by rectifying the Bosnian Army's weapons disadvantage on the ground.
Each of us firmly supports the bipartisan efforts to secure passage of this bill. Our Council members, wo are drawn from every point of the political spectrum, understand that the war in Bosnia will not end - and the threat of a prolonged Balkanwide war that drags in US ground troops will not be averted - until a balance of power is effected on the ground in Bosnia.
Realistically, the only way to achieve such a balance is to terminate the arms embargo.
We hope you will vote yes on the Dole-Lieberman bill.
Morris Abram is a former Ambassador to the United Nations and a President of the American Jewish Committee. Fouad Ajami is the Majid Khadduri Professor and Director of Middle East Studies at John Hopkins University, a contributing editor to US News & World Report and a member of the editorial board of Foreign Affairs. Daniel Bell is the Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard University. Henry Bienen is President of Northwestern University and former Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Zbigniew Brzezinski is a former National Security Adviser and now Counsellor at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Richard Burt is former US AmbasÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌ´sador to Germany. Frank C Carlucci was both Secretary of Defense and National Security and is currently Chairman of the Carlyle Group. Hodding Carter is a former Assistant Secretary of State and now President of Main Street, a communications group. Patricia Derian was Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and now supports a variety of human rights activities. David Dinkins is a former mayor of New York and presently a Senior Fellow at Columbia University. Frank Fahrenkopf was Chairman of the National Republican Party and currently Chairman of International Trade Group Hogan and Hartson. Max M Kampelman was Counselor of the Department of State and Ambassador to the Negotiations on Nuclear and Space Arms, now counsel in the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson. Lane Kirkland is President of AFLICIO, Jean J Kirkpatrick is a former US Ambassador to the United Nations and is presently a professor at Georgetown University. Ronald F Lehman is a former Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. John O'Sullivan is Editor-in-Chief of the National Review. Martin Peretz is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the New Republic. Richard Perle was Assistant Secretry of Defense and currently a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Norma n Podhoretz is Editor-in-Chief of Commentary. Eugene Rostow was Under-Secretary of State and Dean of the Yale Law School and is presently a research professor at the National Defense University and Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Ronald Rumsfeld was Secretary o Defense, Chief of Staff to the President, Ambassador to NATO, and a four-term Congressman. Carl Sagan is a noted astronomer and widely read author. Albert Shanker is President of the American Federation of Teachers and a human and civil rights activist. Henry Siegman was Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress and is currently a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. John Silber is President of Boston University and a noted author. Helmut Sonnenfeld is a former Counsellor of the Department of State and now a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institute. Albert Wohlstetter is University Professor Emeritus of the University of Chicago and holder of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Roberta Wohlstetter is a historian and author and holder of the Presidential Medal for Freedom. Paul Wolfowitz was Under Secretary of Defense and is now Dean of the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. Elmo Zumwalt was a four-star Admiral, Chief of Naval Operations, member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and now President of Admiral Zumwalt and Consultants, Inc.
Morris B Abram
Frank C. Carlucci
Jeane J Kirkpatrick
Ronald F Lehman
Donald H Rumsfeld
Eugene V Rostow
We are writing to you to urge you to vote YES on the Dole-Lieberman bill (S.21) to end the US arms embargo against the Government of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also urge you to sin as a co-sponsor of the bill and to recruit your colleagues as co-sponsors.
The war in Bosnia is now well into its fourth year. Over 200,000 civilians have been brutally murdered by Serbian forces, tens of thousands of women raped, and almost three million people have been forced to flee their homes and villages. Serbian forces have been able to carry out thei genocidal assaut on Bosnia with virtual impunity because of an immoral arms embargo that denies the legitimate government of Bosnia the means to exercise its inherent right of self-defence.
The response of the United Nations to the aggression has been to send poorly armed peace-keepers even though there is no peace to keep. In recent weeks, Serbian forces have been allowed to overrun two of the six UN-declared 'safe areas' and the UN mission has approached total collapse. The lesson we must learn is that only the Bosnian Army has the will and the manpower to defend the fledgling multi-ethnic democracy and its citizens against further attacks.
It is also clear that ultra-nationalist Serbian leaders have no interest in negotiating ÌÌÌÌÌÌÌÌ´while they can accomplish their military and political objectives by attacking Bosnia's remaining civilian population. Until the Bosnian Aermy can mount a credible defense on the ground, this cowardly war of aggression will continue. And we must live in the knowledge that, at least in part, we are responsible for tying the hands of the victims.
The organisations listed below represent a wide range of religious, humanitarian, student and citizen advocacy groups. Some of the names will be familiar to you; others have been formed in recent months by voters outraged by the genocide and our feeble and immoral response to it. We have joined together today to ask you for your support for the Dole-Lieberman bill. The US and its allies, NATO and the UN have failed to stop aggression. Unless Congress acts - and acts NOW - thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, more innocent people will die and the price of eventually confronting this aggression will continue to rise.
By voting for the Dole-Lieberman bill you will be taking a clear stand against genocide, against aggression, against appeasement, and for an honourable and sustainable peace in Bosnia. You will be rejecting the failed policies of European countries that have facilitated more than three years of genocide.
You will be voting for one policy that makes moral, political and military sense.
Vote YES on the Dole-Lieberman bill.
Action Council for Peace in the Balkans,
American Committee to Save Bosnia,
American Council for Public Affairs,
American Jewish Congress,
American Muslim Council,
American Task Force for Bosnia,
Arab American Institute,
Federation for Reonstructionist Congregations and Havurot,
Muslim Public Affairs Council,
National Association of Arab Americans,
National Federation of Croatian Americans,
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council,
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association,
Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Alliance of Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
American Bosnian & Herzegovinian Association,
Americans for Bosnian Orphans,
Ann Arbour Committee for Bosnia,
Bosnia Advocates of Metrowest,
Bosnia Support Committee of DC,
Bosnia Task Force, San Diego
Bosnia-Herzegovina Help Organisation,
California Coalition Against Ethnic Cleansing,
Coalition Against Genocide,
Coalition for Intervention Against Genocide,
Connecticul Citizens Against Genocide,
Free Bosnia Action Group,
Friends of Bosnia (W. Mass),
Friends of Bosnia, Philadelphia,
Greenwich Coalition for Peace in Bosnia,
Human Rights Council, USA,
ACOB at B'Nai Jeshurun,
Jews Against Genocide/NY Committee to Save Bosnia,
Jews Against Genocide in Bosnia,
New England Bosnian Relief Committee,
New Hampshire Committee for Peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
New York-Sarajevo Exchange,
Students Against Genocide (SAGE),
Social Action Committee/Congregation Beth El,
Stop Ethnic Cleansing,
US Bosnia Relief,
Women in Islam