Subject: Dole, Lieberman Urge President To Pursue Bosnia War Criminals
Former senator and GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) called on President Bill Clinton to take a more active role in ensuring that those suspected of Bosnian war crimes are tracked down and brought to justice.
Using the National Holocaust Memorial Museum as a backdrop, Dole and Lieberman, along with a representative of the Coalition for International Justice, announced that they sent a letter today to the president asking for the United States to "take some risks for the sake of peace." A copy of the letter also appeared as an advertisement in Tuesday's New York Times.
Dole, making his first public comments since visiting Bosnia a few weeks ago, said "we're here to call upon the president, President Clinton, to ensure that all war criminals in Bosnia are arrested and brought to justice. Today we're here to say there's much more to be done to bring a just and stable peace to Bosnia, if we do not arrest the perpetrators of these crimes of genocide, we'll risk the investment of billions of dollars, now its about seven billion [dollars], thousands of military and civilian personnel, and our prestige and influence as the greatest country on the face of the earth."
Although he said he "doesn't believe in deadlines," Dole hinted that if needed, the NATO troops may have to stay beyond their current exit date of June 30, 1998.
"Unless we can bring war criminals to justice, when the deadline comes," Dole said, "we're going to have a very, very difficult decision. We've lost a lot of time, [Serb leader Radovan] Karadic and others are dragging their feet, not cooperating, and it seems to me what we see in Bosnia today is the absence of war, not peace and we don't want it to start up again."
While in Congress and as a rival of Clinton's in the race for the White House, Dole supported Clinton in sending troops to Bosnia. Today he said that he still supports the mission, and does not agree with those in Congress who are calling for an early withdrawal.
"My credibility is good, when the president decided on this mission, I stood on the Senate floor and supported the president of the United States, even though I disagreed with previous policy, and now it seems to me we are being urged by some of my former colleagues to bring the troops home. We need to complete the purpose we were sent there for, to enforce the Dayton Accords."
When asked if he would support another mission after SFOR is over, Dole responded, "It's too early to judge."
Lieberman, who also recently returned from a trip to Bosnia, said, "it is time for us to live up to the full measure of our commitment under the Dayton accords. We together with our allies have the resources to bring these war criminals to justice, the only question outstanding is whether we have the will to do it." He went on to say, "we risked our national reputation and the lives of our troops to restore order and create the conditions for peace, and we were successful. Now, we must take the next step to bring justice to Bosnia and hope for a normal life for its people."
Both he and Dole told tales of Karadic, the Serb leader alleged to be most responsible for the war crimes, roaming freely in Bosnia near NATO forces.
On a political note, when asked for his thoughts on the Thompson hearings, Dole said, "I haven't been up there."
"Have you been watching?" he was asked.
"Not too much. I'm leaving for Taiwan tomorrow, so I'll probably miss a week, but I think I can probably catch up when I get back," he replied.
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