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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 5, 1994
                          PRESS BRIEFING BY


The Briefing Room

3:12 P.M. EDT

MS. MYERS: One quick announcement. At 4:00 p.m. we'll do a backgrounder on the Roosevelt Room on the subpoena which you are all aware of. We'll make arrangements for that when this is over.

First, we will hear from Tony Lake, whom you all know as the National Security Advisor; and Lieutenant General Wesley Clark, who is the Director for Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They will make opening statements, which will be for sound and camera, and then five minutes of questions for sound and camera. Then, the cameras will be shut off, but the entire briefing will be ON THE RECORD.

MR. LAKE: Thank you, Dee Dee. This week, President Clinton signed the first comprehensive U.S. policy on multilateral peace operations suited to the post-Cold War era. This policy has the full support of the entire administration. It benefited very greatly from the work that had been done in the previous administration on this issue and from very detailed consultations in the Congress with dozens of key legislators. In fact, in drafting the final policy, we incorporated many very useful contributions by members of Congress.

The central conclusion of the study is that properly conceived and well-executed, peacekeeping can be a very important and useful tool of American foreign policy. Our purpose is to use peacekeeping selectively and more effectively than has been done in the past.

The post-Cold War era is, as we see every day, a very dangerous time. Its defining characteristic is that conflicts in this era take place now more within societies within nations than among them. And this makes it a particularly difficult time, both conceptually and practically, for us all in the international community to come to grips with questions of when and how and where will use force.

Some of these internal conflicts challenge our interests, and some of them do not. But the cumulative effect of all of these internal conflicts around the world is significant. We have all, over the last year, you and I and the others in the administration, spent a great deal of time working on various conflicts of this kind, whether in Somalia, or Rwanda, or Haiti, or Bosnia or elsewhere.

The further problem here is that these kinds of conflicts are particularly hard to come to grips with and to have an effect on from outside because, basically, of course, their origins are in political turmoil within these nations. And that political turmoil may not be susceptible to the efforts of the international community. So, neither we nor the international community have either the mandate, nor the resources, nor the possibility of resolving every conflict of this kind.

When I wake up every morning and look at the headlines and the stories and the images on television of these conflicts, I want to work to end every conflict. I want to work to save every child out there. And I know the President does, and I know the American people do.

But neither we nor the international community have the resources nor the mandate to do so. So we have to make distinctions. We have to ask hard questions about where and when we can intervene. And the reality is that we cannot often solve other people's problems; we can never build their nations for them.

So the policy review is intended to help us make those hard choices about where and when the international community can get involved; where and when we can take part with the international community in getting involved; and where and when we can make, thus, a positive difference.

Let me emphasize again that, even when we do take action, the primary responsibility for peace rests with the people and the parties to the conflict. What the international community can do is to offer a kind of a breathing space for the people involved to make and preserve their own peace.

That's the principle, for example, that we have employed in recent months in Somalia. And we continue to urge the Somali people to take advantage of the breathing space that we helped provide for them, and to seize this opportunity to resolve their differences peacefully. While we are hopeful, and there are hopeful signs that they can do so, there are also disturbing signs in Somalia in recent weeks, and we do not know what the outcome will be. But we did our job, we believe, in providing that breathing space, and we believe that the more than 15,000 U.N. personnel there are doing theirs today.

So we must be selective, as I have just said, and we must also be more effective. The U.S. is committed to strengthening U.N. peacekeeping capabilities, because effective peacekeeping serves both American and the world's collective interests. It can produce conflict resolution and prevention, as on the Golan or in El Salvador; it can promote democracy as it has in Namibia and in Cambodia and, again, in El Salvador; and it can serve our economic interests as well, as for example in the Persian Gulf.

And peacekeeping is burden-sharing, which is certainly in our interests. We pay less than one-third of the costs of the U.N. troops and U.N. operations, and less than one percent of U.N. troops in the field are, in fact, American.

While there are limits to peacekeeping, and even setbacks, as we have seen in Rwanda in recent days, we have to be careful never to overlook the impressive successes and the personal courage that has been shown and is being shown today by U.N. peacekeepers around the world.

Since 1948, over 650,000 men and women from all over the world have served in U.N. missions, and over 1,000 have given their lives. For example, some 200 in Southern Lebanon, over 70 in Bosnia, 100 in Somalia, over 150 in Cyprus. In Cambodia, Bulgarians and Japanese and Chinese and Bangladeshis and others were victims of the Khmer Rouge when they attacked the U.N. peacekeepers trying to oversee the elections there and make them possible. There were stories that I'm sure some of you recall of villagers stuffing messages into the ballot boxes in Cambodia, thanking the U.N. peacekeepers for what they were doing and imploring them to stay on.

In the Bosnian town of Bakovici, some of you may remember that there were 100 patients in a mental hospital that were trapped there without heat or electricity over the winter, and U.N. peacekeepers were going in, back and forth, bringing in supplies to the mental hospital across the lines and getting fired at from both sides.

My point is that it is easy for all of us, when there is a setback, to dismiss the U.N. and the peackeepers as a whole, and we must not do it because it does a disservice to the courage that they are showing today and to the sacrifices they have made in the past. Even so, because the needs for peacekeeping have outrun the resources for peacekeeping, it's important that we ask the tough questions about when and where we will support or participate in such operations. And we are the first government, I believe, and this is the first time in the history of the U.S. government, I believe, that we have cared and dared enough to do so and to ask those questions.

Peacekeeping is a part of our national security policy, but it is not the centerpiece. The primary purpose of our military forces is to fight and win wars. As in our bottom-up review, to fight and win two major regional contingencies nearly simultaneously, and to do so unilaterally when necessary.

If peacekeeping operations ever conflicted with our ability to carry out those operations, we would pull out of the peace operations to serve our primary military purposes. But we will, as the President has said many times, seek collective rather than unilateral solutions to regional and intrastate conflicts that don't touch our core national interests. And we'll choose between unilateral and collective approaches between the U.N. or other coalitions depending on what works best and what best serves American interests.

The policy review address six major issues. First, ensuring that we support the right operations; second, that we reduce the cost of peacekeeping operations; third, that we improve U.N. peacekeeping capabilities; fourth, that we ensure effective command and control of American forces; fifth, that we improve the way the American government manages the issue of peacekeeping; and, sixth, to enhance the cooperation between the Congress and the Executive Branch.

Let me say just a word about each. First, ensuring that we support or participate only in the right types of peacekeeping operations. Not all such operations obviously make sense. We, as I said, I believe, are the first nation to ask the tough questions now at the U.N. before committing to costly new peacekeeping operations. The President said that we would do so in his General Assembly speech last fall, and we are, indeed, doing just that.

We've developed two sets of questions in the study to determine when the United States first should vote for such operations, and, secondly, when we should participate in them. In the unclassified document we've handed out, we have a complete list of those questions. They include such questions as: Does the mission advance American interests? Is there a threat to international peace and security? Does it have a very clear mandate? does it have clear objectives? and, Are the forces and the funds actually available for such an operation?

Secondly, we believe that we have to reduce the peacekeeping costs both to the United States and for the United Nations. Peacekeeping simply costs too much right now. It can be a very good investment for us, but it can be an even better investment if it were less costly. So, first, we are working to reduce the American costs here. As the President has said, we are committed to reducing our peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent by January, 1996, and we believe that other newly rich countries should pay their fair share.

And, secondly, we all save when the costs of U.N. peacekeeping operations are reduced generally. And we proposed in the study, have proposed already in a number of cases, numerous finance and budget management reforms to make U.N. peacekeeping operations more efficient and cost-effective. For example, we would like to see a unified U.N. peacekeeping budget, we would like to see better procurement procedures, and as a top priority and something we are working on right now, we would like to see a wholly independent office of an inspector general with oversight over peacekeeping.

Third, we think we have to improve the U.N.'s peacekeeping capabilities, and we are committed to doing this. So we're going to work with the U.N. and member states on steps to improve the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations and its field missions. For example, enhancing planning, logistics, procurement, command and control, public affairs, intelligence, civilian police capabilities. And we will lead an effort in the U.N. to try to redeploy resources within the U.N. system to fund these reforms.

Fourth -- and this is tremendously important -- we have to ensure that there is effective command and control of American forces when they are engaged in peacekeeping operations. And I will ask General Wes Clark to address this for a moment.

GENERAL CLARK: There has been a great deal of discussion on the issue of command and control, and so let me begin by laying out the definitions that are relevant here. First of all, by command what we're speaking of is the constitutional authority to establish and deploy forces: issue orders, separate and move units, resupply, provide medical support, discipline. The President will never relinquish command of United States forces; that is inviolable.

Operational control is a subset of command. Operational control can be given for a specific time frame, for a specific mission in a particular location. Operational control may be the assignment of tasks to already-deployed forces led by U.S. officers. We may place the U.S. forces under the operational control of foreign commanders. That's the distinction that's in this peace operations document.

Now the involvement with foreign commanders, I would tell you is nothing new. In fact, that's the news of this document, is that from the perspective of command and control, there is nothing new. In World War I, World War II, throughout our experience with NATO, in operation Desert Storm, we've always had the ability to task organize and place some U.S. units under foreign operational control, if it was advantageous to do so.

This PDD policy preserves our option to do that. We will be able to place U.S. forces under foreign op con when it's prudent or tactically advantageous. I would tell you that as we look at it, the greater the U.S. military role, the more likely that the operations involved entail combat, then the less likely we are to place those forces under foreign operational control.

Even were we to do so, fundamental elements would still apply. The chain of command will be inviolate. All of our commanders will have the capability to report to higher U.S. authority. They'll report illegal orders or orders outside the mandate that they've been authorized to perform to higher U.S. authority if they can't work those out with the foreign commander on the ground.

Of course, the President retains the authority to terminate participation at any time to protect our forces. There's no intent in this language to subvert an operational chain of command. What we're trying to do is achieve the best balance between cohesive, trained, well established U.S. chains of command, and unity of command in an operation involving foreign forces in a coalition or some other grouping.

So that's the intent behind this. And as I say, it is no change from the way we've operated in the past. I would also tell you that our military has played a major role in defining the command and control aspects of this PDD. It's been thoroughly vetted in the Joint Chiefs of Staff system. It's been reviewed and approved by the Chiefs of Staff of our services, and by the commanders and chiefs of our forces overseas.

Thank you.

MR. LAKE: Not done. More to come. I have not bored you into submission yet. (Laughter.)

We've done four, we have two to go.

Also, we think it is important that we improve the American government's management of peacekeeping. We think that because peacekeeping -- as we have seen, is both important and complex and dangerous -- that the perspective of our military and defense leaders should be brought more to bear in it. So we concluded that the Department of Defense should join State in the State Department in assuming both policy and financial responsibility for appropriate peace operations -- what we call shared responsibility.

You will not be surprised to know that each was more anxious for the policy responsibility than the financial responsibility, but it has been worked out, we think, very well.

The State Department will both manage and pay for traditional, non-combat peacekeeping operations, i.e., under Chapter Six of the charter -- when there are not American combat units involved, and this represents, by far, the greatest number of such operations.

The Defense Department will manage and pay for all peace enforcement operations under Chapter Seven of the charter. For example, in Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and Kuwait now, and those traditional peacekeeping operations under Chapter Six in which there are American combat units.

We believe that this shared responsibility will not only mean better management, but will help us to solve the long-term funding problem that we face in peacekeeping. We still have an immediate arrears problem in our peacekeeping debts, and without new funding, the American arrearage will be over $1 billion by the end of this fiscal year, the end of September. And the President is very committed to paying off this debt, and he and we are working very closely with the Congress now to devise means for doing so.

And, finally, in the study, we have worked to recognize the need to improve the relationships and the consultations between the Executive Branch and the Congress on peacekeeping operations. And we're going to take a number of steps to improve the information flow between the administration and the Congress on these issues.

In short, the policy is designed to impose more discipline on the U.N. and on ourselves so that peacekeeping will be a more effective collective security tool for American foreign policy. This is a new era, we are all learning how to come to grips with the new problems that it presents to us. But there is no doubt in my mind that peacekeeping offers a very important way of making sure that today's problems don't become tomorrow's crises, because those crises will cost us a lot more in the long run than the peacekeeping does right now.

This is an important -- not the most important, but an important part of our national security policy, and it is very, very important that the United Nations and that we get it right, and that's what this study is about.

Q Is there a big difference now between the policy you've enunciated and one we've been following? How does it apply to Bosnia and Haiti?

MR. LAKE: The essence of the policy is what we have been following since approximately I say last fall, late last summer when we began to ask the harder questions at the U.N. and to try to work more closely with the Congress, et cetera. And many of the reforms that we're talking about at the U.N. in fact are already underway, as in their having established a situation center which allows now the U.N. for 24 hours a day to be in touch with its peacekeeping operations, which is not the case before.

So many of these things we've been doing before. This pulls it all together, lays it out in more detail, and I think expresses also a philosophy of doing this that we have been talking about, but not in as coherent, I think, a fashion before.

Q How would this apply to Haiti vs. Rwanda, let's say? How do your principles apply in practice? And can you respond to Bob Dole who made a speech about a half-hour ago, arguing very forcefully against U.S. military action in Haiti?

MR. LAKE: The question of American military action in Haiti remains a hypothetical one, and I would prefer not to turn this into a discussion of that. Let me, though, use Haiti as an example of one distinction here, because I think there's been some confusion about it.

When the effort was made last fall to send in a training mission into Haiti, it was not a peace enforcement operation. It was not an effort to fight our way into Haiti in order to bring peace to Haiti, it was a U.N. peacekeeping operation designed to train the Haitian military, which required the consent and, in fact, it had the request of the Haitian military to go in. And then when they changed their mind, it was not an invasion for a -- fight its way ashore.

Today we read in the papers of two different kinds, now, of possibilities before us. One is that same U.N. mission, perhaps reconfigured in ways to make it relevant to what Haiti could look like after we make progress towards a political settlement, and the other to what Haiti could look like after we make progress towards a political settlement. And the other would be a military action of some kind to bring about the change in Haiti that would allow then such a U.N. mission to get on board.

And, as I said, the -- both of them right now are hypothetical and certainly the option of a forceful move into Haiti has not been ruled out by the President. But equally, he has not made a decision to do so.

Q But the question was how does this policy help you to distinguish between Haiti and Rwanda in terms of U.S. interests?

MR. LAKE: Well, the policy cannot tell you what American interests are in every situation around the world, or this would be the Manhattan telephone book. What the policy can do is to tell you very clearly the kinds of questions -- questions, not the answers necessarily -- but the questions that we should be asking ourselves as we consider whether to take part in a U.N. operation, or indeed, in many ways, whether to act unilaterally. And those questions are laid out for you in the document that we have handed out, and they are questions that we are asking ourselves as we think about the issue, and I have no doubt they are questions that you will asking us.

Q How does this help you to draw a distinction between the command and operational control in a situation such as you have in Bosnia where a U.N. official on the ground stops the U.N. and NATO from acting when they wanted bombing support and couldn't get it? I'd like to have this on camera.

MR. LAKE: Want to try again?

Q Just answer. I'm not worried about the question.

MR. LAKE: What this document refers to is the question of command and operational control of American forces when they are under the operational control of a non-American commander. And that is not the case in Bosnia --

Q We've got NATO forces working for the U.N. --

MR. LAKE: No, the NATO forces do not work for the U.N., The NATO forces are acting pursuant to U.N. authorities, but the chain of both operational control and command of the American forces involved -- which are our air forces -- are under NATO command, not U.N. command -- or under NATO operational control and under American command, and as it happens, the NATO commanders who exercise that operational control are, for most of the chain of command, Americans. So that is not a case that applies, in answering your question about U.N. operational control over American commanders.

Q The U.N. frustrates the use of force in that situation.

MR. LAKE: The U.N.?

Q Frustrated the use force in that situation.

MR. LAKE: Well, we believe that the procedures within the U.N. in this peacekeeping operation have improved over the last few months. And I think if you compare the requests for close air support that were made last February and March, it took a lot longer for the U.N. to decide than it has recently.

There was a case in Gorazde, and there have been some tactical cases -- one or two since -- in which NATO said, we are prepared to act, and the U.N. said, the local U.N. officials said for their own reasons, and they could be good or bad -- we disagreed in one case -- that it would better not to use the NATO air strikes now.

As you will recall, then Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General Boutros-Ghali made a statement saying that if the Bosnian Serbs were to violate in significant ways the Gorazde or other U.N. zones, that he would call for the air strikes. And you may also recall that if there is a disagreement now at the local level, then that disagreement can be kicked up the chain of command until higher authorities can resolve it.

So we believe that this will not be a major problem in the future, even when there may be a tactical disagreement.

Q Could you please tell me, as you mentioned only one percent of --

MR. LAKE: Did you have anything else?

Q No, I think that's all.

Q in general as well, only one percent of Americans now serve as peacekeepers.

MR. LAKE: Well, one percent of peacekeepers that are Americans.

Q peacekeepers are now Americans. Is that likely to increase as a result of the PDD?

MR. LAKE: Let me first make another distinction, because, in fact, if you look not at the U.N. peacekeeping operations per se, but at a range of operations around the world that are pursuant to U.N. resolutions, then you have some 65,000, I believe --is that right -- 69,000 -- okay. They've got uniforms. Anyway, between 65,000 and 69,000 Americans serving in such operations and provide comfort or -- around the world.

So there's already a significant number of -- in Korea -- Americans doing this. As a result of the study, I can honestly not give you an answer to that, because I think it depends on the operations, on frankly how we do financially in gaining the resources from the Congress for such operations, which the President feels very strongly about, and in whether the kinds of conflicts we look at over the coming years fit or do not fit the kind of criteria that we lay out here.

This study is not a crystal ball, it is a roadmap. It tells you how to think about these issues so that you know how we, as we release this now, are thinking and what the criteria are that we'll be using, and I think that's a significant contribution.

Q If, indeed, you have laid out these new criteria for when the United States will approve the peacekeeping operations, could you just tell us of the 18 existing peacekeeping operations which, if any of them, would currently qualify under this new U.S. criteria?

MR. LAKE: I think that most of them certainly do. One of the -- and I don't want to decide from here which do and which don't --

Q Please do, because it's very germane.

MR. LAKE: What we have been doing -- what we have been doing is to say that -- this is not the intellectual climate -- what we have been doing is to say that in new peacekeeping operations or when existing peacekeeping operations are rolled over that we want to see some sort of sunset provisions in them. What we are saying is that we want to have either terminal points or --

Q What have you done? (Laughter.)

MR. LAKE: -- listen, we'll do anything to keep you alert -- (laughter) -- terminal points or clear criteria for how to decide in the terms of that mention when its end point has been reached. And in terms of taking a hard look at them, there are a number of cases already, for example, in which a hard look has led to a change in how the operation will be continued, for example, in Mozambique when we said, okay, if you want to increase the police component in the Mozambique peacekeeping operation, then to keep in the same general financial parameters you have to reduce the military component.

So I think it'll tend to be specific to each operation. The important thing is that in the terms of each operation in reflecting these questions that we have before we go in or before we sign up for an extension, that we know when it will end or how we will know that it has ended. And we could go over each one and discuss those different ones.

Q I wanted to ask about the financial aspect of it. You talked about moving the budgeting under both departments. Is there some thought that you'll have an easier time getting money if it's called Defense money than State Department money? Is that what you're saying?

MR. LAKE: No, this was not designed to find easier ways on the Hill, because both kinds of money are pretty hard to come by now. It is designed to have a more rational system, both of managing and funding these operations. It's going to take hard work on the Hill, and one of the reasons why the President called in congressional leadership a couple of weeks ago was to talk specifically about the importance to American foreign policy, providing the resources not only for the defense budget generally in which he has fought hard, but on peacekeeping specifically.

Q Do you have any figures on how much of a shift is involved here? How much additional money would the Defense Department need into their budget to carry out peacekeeping operations that they do not now have to carry out?

MR. LAKE: Probably run on the order of more than $500 million a year.

Q What's your response to Republicans who, in fact, say that you're using the Defense Department as -- you're reducing defense spending to shift what amounts to State Department spending into the defense budget -- this is a charge being made by Dole, Gingrich, others, that this is a suspicious ploy by the White House to make it look like you really have a decent defense budget when you're gutting true defense to put in mushy peacekeeping --

MR. LAKE: Not exactly the way I was putting it. Well, I think he's wrong. What this will do in the out years is to have up front the creation of a so-called "CIPA," for the Defense Department into which peacekeeping money will go. Everybody will know what it is, it will be appropriated by the Congress. In fact, it will be a better way of not slipping money around.

Let me state to you absolutely, clearly, that the President of the United States has said that one of his top priorities as he fights for no further cuts in the defense budget is to preserve the readiness of our forces. And we will not repeat the mistakes of the 1970s and do anything that will lead to a hollow army. That would be a tremendous mistake.

Let me recall for you what I said in my statement, which is that the central mission of our Armed Forces is to be prepared and able to fight and win wars, and to fight them and win them unilaterally when our direct interests are challenged and that is required; and we are not going to do anything to change that.

Q Were you saying in response to Bill's question that the latest directive really doesn't apply in the case of Bosnia, that -- because of the altered chain of command?

MR. LAKE: No, no, I was saying not at all that it doesn't apply to Bosnia, of course it does. It applies to all current and potential peacekeeping operations. What I was saying was that it didn't give an answer to the specific question of the command relationship or the relationship between NATO and the U.N. in Bosnia, which is a much larger question than the one addressed here of whether Americans participate or we support these things.

Q Given that, and given what I suppose you might argue, but the limited success of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia, would you ask for changes?

MR. LAKE: In their command and control structures, or --

Q In the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia in general, to reflect the new directive.

MR. LAKE: Well, we have been pleased, for example, because Bosnia was one of the cases, Somalia was another, where it bothered us that before they had the 24-hour situation center, that there were literally times when the local people could not reach the U.N. in New York because nobody was answering the phone.

Now, the phones are answered. We think that has been an improvement. If you look at the -- and it was a serious problem because they needed the authorities from New York often to act. If you look at the behavior of UNPROFOR forces on the ground now, you will see, I believe, a more vigorous pattern of action than we -- we're seeing if you compare it, for example, with a year ago. A Danish unit was attacked by Bosnian Serb gunners a few days ago, and the Danish tanks responded very vigorously, inflicted casualties on the Bosnian Serbs, acquitted themselves well, and protected themselves. And they -- all U.N. peacekeepers, whether under Chapter 6 or Chapter 7, have the right of self-defense, and they exercised it.

Q Could I please follow? Are you saying, then, that the limited effectiveness of the operation in Bosnia should be judged as changing now because of the actions of past few days or weeks, sir?

MR. LAKE: I'm sorry, I don't understand.

Q The Serbs have run amok in that country. Are you saying that now we should judge it on the basis of the Danish peacekeepers having fought back over the past few days or weeks?

MR. LAKE: I'll make this brief, because you've heard me on this subject before. I would ask you to compare the situation on the ground in Bosnia today and the situation on the ground in Bosnia five months ago. And if you look at the situation around Sarajevo, around Mostar, around Tuzla, around Maglaj, it is far better than it was then. That is a fact. There are, as the President said the other day, there are people alive today in Sarajevo, in Mostar, in Maglaj and elsewhere, who would not be alive today if the situation had not improved. And it improved because the President and the United States pushed and led NATO into taking actions that it had not previously taken, never before in its history, to push for those improvements.

Is it all the improvements that we would like? No. But it is progress. And that progress on the ground, we hope, in a very -- still a very uncertain, unsettled and dangerous situation. But that progress on the ground, we hope, can then lead to progress in diplomacy, which can finally bring a settlement to this terrible problem.

Q Can I ask you a question about the case in Singapore? The President said on three separate occasions that he didn't want to see that kid caned. And, yet, when Singapore went ahead and did it, the response from the State Department was to express disappointment. Why the lack of a more robust response to what amounts to a rebuff to the President, or is another shoe going to fall here?

MR. LAKE: I'll work hard on the connection to peacekeeping here but -- in any case, I think the State Department addressed that. They went, I believe, beyond the issuance of a simple statement.

Q Can you tell me the circumstances under which American troops would be under this plan in combat under foreign command?

MR. LAKE: Never under foreign commanders. I can foresee possibilities, certainly, into which they are under foreign operational control. That may sound like a shocking statement, but in fact that has happened repeatedly in Desert Storm, in Korea, World War II, World War I; and indeed, I'm told, that at Yorktown, Americans were under the operational control of French commanders; and right now in Macedonia with the Nordics, so --

MS. MYERS: We have to go, so thank you.

MR. LAKE: Thanks very much.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END3:55 P.M. EDT