(see original at http://www.senate.gov/%7Ehutchison/kosovo.htm

The Situation In Kosovo

U.S. Senate Floor Statement
March 22, 1999

Mrs. HUTCHISON. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about the situation in Kosovo . We have been watching this situation unfold for days, actually months--actually, you could say thousands of years. But it is coming to a head in the very near future, perhaps in hours. As I speak today, Richard Holbrooke is talking to Slobodan Milosevic and trying to encourage him to come to the peace table. I hope he is successful, and I know every American hopes that he is successful. But what I think we must talk about today is what happens if he is not.

What happens if Mr. Milosevic says, `No, I am not going to allow foreign troops in my country,' and if he says he is going to move forward with whatever he intends to do in the governance of that country? I think we have to step back and look at the situation and the dilemma which we face, because there is no question, this is not an easy decision. What comes next?

Basically, the President has committed the United States to a policy in NATO to which he really does not have the authority to commit. The consequences are that we have to make a decision that would appear to walk away from the commitment he made without coming to Congress, and that is not a good situation. I do not like having to make such a choice, because I want our word to be good. When the United States speaks, I want our word to be good. Whether it is to our ally or to our enemy, they need to know what we say we will do.

But the problem here is, the President has gone out with a commitment before he talked to Congress about it, and now we have really changed the whole nature of NATO without congressional approval. We are saying that we are going to bomb a sovereign country because of their mistreatment of people within their country, the province of Kosovo , and we are going to take this action, basically declaring war on a country that should not be an enemy of the United States and in fact was a partner at the peace table in the Dayton accords on Bosnia.

So now we are taking sides. We are turning NATO, which was a defense alliance--is a defense alliance--into an aggressive, perhaps, declarer-of-war on a country that is not in NATO. Mr. President, I just do not think we can take a step like that without the Congress and the American people understanding what we are doing and, furthermore, approving of it.

There is no question that Mr. Milosevic is not our kind of person. We have seen atrocities that he has committed in Kosovo . But, in fact, there have been other atrocities committed by the parties with whom we are purporting to be taking sides. The Albanians have committed atrocities as well, the Kosovar Albanians. So we are now picking sides in a civil war where I think the U.S. security interest is not clear.

I think it is incumbent on the President to come to Congress, before he takes any military action in Kosovo , to lay out the case and to get congressional approval. What would he tell Congress? First of all, before we put one American in harm's way, I want to know: What is the intention here? What is the commitment? What happens in the eventuality that Mr. Milosevic does not respond to bombing, that he declares he is going to go forward without responding to an intervention in his country? What do we do then? Do we send ground troops in to force him to come to the peace table? And if we did, could we consider that is really a peace? What if NATO decides to strike and an American plane is shot down? What if there is an American POW? What then? What is our commitment then?

My concern here is that the administration has not looked at the third, fourth, and fifth steps in a plan. They have only addressed step 1, which is, we are going to bomb because they will not come to the peace table and accept the agreement that we have hammered out. I just say, before we go bombing sovereign nations, we ought to have a plan. We ought to know what steps 3, 4, and 5 are, because I believe Congress has a right to know what this commitment is. How many people from the United States of America are going to be put in harm's way? What is it going to cost and where is the money going to come from? Is it going to come from other defense accounts, so other places in the world where we have troops are put at risk? Is it going to come at the risk of our Strategic Defense Initiative? Just where is the money going to come from? Most of all, most important of all, what is the mission? How much are we going to be required to do and what is the timetable?

Mr. President, I would support a plan that would say when the two parties come to a real peace agreement, we would put our troops, along with our European allies in NATO, together in a peacekeeping mission of a short duration which would make sure that things settle down until we could have others rotate in and take our place. I would support a plan that went that far.

I would also support a plan of helping the Kosovars, but without putting American troops in harm's way. You know, the difference between the Clinton doctrine and the Reagan doctrine is that President Reagan would support freedom fighters with arms, with monetary contributions, with intelligence--many, many forms of support for freedom fighters--but he would never put a U.S. military person in the middle of a civil war. He would help, but he would not make that commitment.

Under the Reagan doctrine, therefore, we could help Afghan rebels and Nicaraguan freedom fighters. At the same time, we could also continue to remain strong in Europe and Asia because we could allocate our resources and we would not drain our resources in small civil conflicts in chosen places around the world.

What bothers me about what has been happening in the last 3 or 4 years is that we have been putting troops into civil conflicts in certain parts of the world but not all parts of the world. So every time we do it, it makes the decision not to do it somewhere else a little harder. We practically invaded Haiti and we still have 500 troops in Haiti today.

We had 18 Army Rangers killed in Somalia in a mission that was ill-defined and was actually mission creep. The original mission of feeding starving people had been accomplished, but we didn't leave. We decided to capture a warlord, something our military is not trained to do and, therefore, the miscalculation cost us the lives of 18 great young Americans.

We have inserted ourselves into places like Haiti, Somalia and Bosnia, but we have not inserted ourselves into Algeria, where there are just as many atrocities as there have been in any place in the Balkans. We have not inserted ourselves into Turkey, where there is mistreatment of the Kurds. We aren't getting involved in the Basque separatist movement in Spain. We didn't step into Iran when the Ayatollah took over from the Shah and was assassinating almost every military leader that couldn't get out of the country, plus the religious minorities that were still there and their leadership. It is very difficult, when you start choosing where you are going to involve yourselves, to extricate yourself when there is no clear policy.

That is why so many of us in Congress are concerned and why we realize the dilemma. We understand that this is not an easy black and white decision. We are talking about a commitment that the President has made. I do not like stepping in and saying that we shouldn't keep a commitment the President has made. Overriding that great concern is the consequence of not requiring the President to have a plan and a policy that will set a precedent for the future. I think we could explain it by sitting down with our European allies and saying, first of all, if we are going to change the mission of NATO, this must be fully debated and fully accepted by every member of NATO within their own constitutional framework. If we are going to turn NATO from a defense alliance into an affirmative war-making machine, I think we need to talk about it.

I will support some affirmative action on the part of NATO, if we are able to determine exactly what would trigger that and not go off on one mission without having a precedent for a different mission and, therefore, creating expectations among more and more people that we will step in to defend the autonomy of a country such as Kosovo or Bosnia. We must not allow the expectations to be such that we are drawn into every conflict, because we will not be able to survive with the strength that we must have when only the United States will be the one standing between a real attack from a ballistic missile or a nuclear warhead or an invasion of another country where we do have a strategic interest. We cannot allow there to be so many questions because there is so little policy. That is the responsibility of Congress, to work with the President.

We will work together. Congress will work with the President to hammer out a new mission for NATO. We will always do our fair share in the world. We will never walk away from that. We have to determine what is our fair share, what is our allocation. I submit that the United States will always be the leader in technology, and we will create a ballistic missile defense that will shield not only the United States and our troops wherever they may be in any theater in the world, but we also will protect our allies, if we have the strength to go forward. We will not have the strength to go forward if we continue to spend $3 and $4 billion a year on conflicts that do not rise to the level of a U.S. security interest.

We must be able to choose where we spend our defense dollars so that we will all be protected, ourselves and our allies, from a rogue nation with a ballistic missile capability that can put a chemical or biological or nuclear warhead on it and undermine the integrity of people living in our country.

Mr. President, the consequences are too great for us to sit back and let the President commit U.S. forces in a situation that I can't remember us ever having before; that is, to take an affirmative military action against a sovereign nation that has not committed a security threat to the United States. Before we would sit back and let the President do that, I cannot in good conscience say, well, he has made the commitment, even though he didn't have the right to do it, so we have got to let him go forward. Perhaps if we aren't lucky and if Milosevic does not come to the table, we would have more and more and more responsibilities because of the potential consequences that could occur if he does not come to the table.

We must know what those consequences are and what we are prepared to do in the eventuality that an American plane is shot down, that we have an American prisoner on the ground or that we bomb and bomb and bomb and bomb and he still does not do what we have asked him to do. We have to determine what we do in that eventuality. I certainly hope that we will consult with the Russians so that this war does not escalate into something that we haven't thought about. If Russia decides to step in on the side of Serbia, we could have grief beyond what anyone is saying right now.

I hope the President will work with Congress to fashion a new mission for NATO that will have the full support of Congress and the American people. I believe we could do that, because I don't think we are far apart at all. We cannot do it on an ad hoc basis. We cannot all of a sudden attack another country on an ad hoc basis and call that a policy.

I hope the President will come together with Congress and have hearings. Let's hear from the American people on just what they believe is the role of the United States. Let's hear from Congress about what our commitments should be and what is a ready division of responsibility for keeping the world as safe as we can make it, given that 30 countries have ballistic missile technology, some of whom are rogue nations. Let us step back with our European allies and determine if this is the right decision to make, or are there other ways that we could be helpful to the Kosovar Albanians.

I remember hour after hour after hour, over a 2-year period, talking about letting the Muslims have a fair fight in Bosnia, because they didn't have arms when two of their adversaries did. We never took that step. Now there is a cease-fire in Bosnia, but there are also many years to go before we will know what the cost is and if it can be lasting, because today, Bosnia is still as ethnically divided as it ever was because it is not safe for the refugees to move back in.

One can say there is disagreement on just how successful was the Bosnian mission. We do not see fighting, but NATO has just toppled a duly elected president of one of the provinces. It is pretty hard to understand. I think it is tenuous that we would go in and forcibly remove an elected president while we are touting democratic ideals.

There was a way to go into Bosnia, but Kosovo is very different. Kosovo is a civil war in a sovereign nation. There are atrocities. There have been atrocities on both sides. We are picking one side, and we are doing it without a vote of Congress. I do not think we can do it. I do not think the President has the right to declare war, and under the Constitution, he certainly does not. And under the War Powers Act, it takes an emergency. This is not an emergency. We are not being attacked. United States troops are not in harm's way at this point.

We can take the time to talk about it, and the consequences are so great I think it is worth the time to set a policy that allows us to have some continuity for the next 25 years, so that our enemies and our allies will know what the greatest superpower in the world is going to do and they will not have to guess.

Mr. President, it is a dilemma, and I realize it is. I do not feel comfortable with the choice. I do not feel comfortable at a time when we have gone out on a limb, through our President who made a commitment for us, even though we were not part of it. Nevertheless, I would like to give the President that support, but it is worth it to take the time and do it right and ask the President to come forward to give us his plan, to tell us what happens when American troops are prisoners of war or on the ground or shot down. We need to know what we would do in that eventuality before we send them there. That is the least that we can expect.

I hope we can debate this resolution. I hope people will give their views. I have heard great debates already on it, not on the Senate floor, though. The time has come for us to have this debate, and let's vote up or down. There will be people voting on both sides in good conscience, seeing it a different way but with the same goal. So let's have that debate. Let's do it right. Let's don't haul off bombing an independent nation before the Senate and the House of Representatives has a plan and approves it or disapproves it. That is what our Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution, and it is more appropriate today than ever.

I hope we will do that, because then the American people will know what is going on and they will support it or not support it. If we are going to have a long-term commitment, which I hope we do not, but if we do, at least it will be with the support of Congress as Desert Storm was. That was a tough debate. People spoke from the heart on both sides. They took a vote, and Congress supported the President going into Desert Storm. That is the way it should be, Mr. President. That is the way it should be under our Constitution, under our democracy. That is the way our Government works. I hope it will again as we face the crisis today that could have very long-term consequences for our country and for every one of our young men and women in the field wearing the uniform of the United States of America. Their lives are worth a debate and a policy, and that is what we are going to try to give them in the next 24 hours.

I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.