Public Address by General (Ret.) Wesley K. Clark with an introduction by U.S. Senator Michael DeWine
Current and former U.S., Bosnian, European, and international organization officials, as well as scholars, and policy analysts will examine lessons from the Dayton negotiations and the Bosnian peacebuilding process of the last ten years.
Wesley Clark is a retired four-star general of the United States Army.
Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he earned a master's degree in economics, and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science.
He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Thanks and it's my deep honor to... Many times as an emcee you are given the job ofintroducing somebody and the old standard phrase is this person needs no introduction. Inreference to why we are here tonight, this gentleman certainly doesn't, but I'm going togive him one anyway. For example, he happened to be heading the U.S. military duringthe Dayton negotiations, and served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO from1997-2000, during that time he commanded Operation Allied Force, and also the Kosovoconflict. We are so proud to have him here tonight, General Wesley Clark.Carl, Thank you very much for that kind introduction, and it is really an honor to be hereand a real pleasure to be back in Dayton. This is my first trip back to the museum and toDayton in 10 years. And it's an amazing experience for me personally to come back intothis whole, I remember the dinner, I remember being with Slobodan Milosevic and at thattime, I think right over here, there was a tomahawk cruise missile, and I pointed out themissile to him, and he said "Yes, General Clark, I know what that is." A few years laterhe learned much better what it could do, but this is a time of congratulations. It really is,and I want to give thanks first to the community of Dayton for memorializing this eventhere. You know, when we were engaged in the negotiations, we didn't have Dayton inmind, it was just at some point we decided we had to get everybody together and welooked for an air base or some military installation where there were some barracks thatwere empty where we could confine people. And so Dayton became, it was a... It was aplace intended to be a place of confinement, and isolation, and it was in the middle of thecountry, so people couldn't run back and forth to Washington, and it turned out to be agreat place not only because it fulfilled its purpose in that we could really focus on thepeace process, but it also had an incredibly warm and supportive group of people aroundthis community who gave us their hospitality and their support and their hearts, and I justwant to tell you, as one of the people who was here, how grateful all of us were then andeven more so today to the people of Dayton. Thank you for that.Of course, I have to thank the factions themselves. We call them the "warring factions",but the WFs, but they're no longer warring, but they came here Tudjman, Izetbegovich,Milosevic, with their teams, I saw Ambassador Zujou a few moments ago, andMiritz (name undetermined), and others that were here, they were here then, they sat inthe room, we did the opening ceremony, and none of us knew whether we'd succeed orfail. We knew it would be memorable because there'd been previous peace conferencesand they were always memorable because the failures were always talked about. Therewas no guarantee of success. It began in a tough way because Milosevic called theAmerican delegation aside, at least he got Holbrooke and me in a room and he said:"You, you set up your press, you set up your newspapers, look at this nasty article aboutme in TIME magazine. You did this. You," and he pointed at Holbrooke. Of course, wehadn't done it. He had done it to himself by being the kind of person he was, but it beganin an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust, and somehow the factions themselves hungwith it, stayed with it. Tudjman went away and came back. Every day, Izetbegovich andMilosevic stayed with it. And their supporters, and we worked the issues, we had mapdiscussions, we had structure discussions, we set up a police annex, we argued, we hadour European Union friends there, I had my British friends and German friends,Wolfgang Issinger was here, those of you who participated in the workshops have beenthrough all the issues associated with Bosnia, but it still is something that I look back on,I think, you know, it took a lot of courage for the people who had been bitter enemies andfought and whose reputations and very lives were on the line to come together in thisplace and call an end to the fighting. And so I want to recognize the factions and thepeople who were there, the people from Croatia and Serbia and the Bosnians of all theethnic groups who came here and participated in this because they did make anagreement, and I want to thank the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina. I was there; I'm one ofthe many here who has had to live with the agreement. Not only did I help write themilitary annex and do the map, but I actually, as the Supreme Allied Commander, I hadto adjudicate it and enforce it, and the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina were amazing. Itactually worked. You know we've never had a single American killed. We never had ashot fired at our troops. We never established a... Well, we never established a secretdetention center. We never put people away. It was with great reluctance that we didarrest a few of the indicted war criminals, and they're in The Hague right nowundergoing a trial, not in secret, but in public, and there are a lot of people who say thatthat's the wrong way to go about it, because look at Milosevic. He's still there and he'sstill undergoing trial, and will it ever end? But I'll stand here and tell you it's the rightway to go about it, it's like that Patrick Henry statement, and that song about liberty, andabout who we are as Americans. This was the process which reflected America's valuesat our best. We have a strong military, we have strong principles, we had great diplomats,we had a great leader with Richard Holbrooke, and a great team with Chris Hill and JimPardue, my colleague from the Pentagon, and Robert Owen, we lost some great peoplealong the way, Bob Frazier from the State Department, Joe Cruzil from DOD,Nelson Drew from the White House, we picked up Don Kerrick, Jim... they were greatpeople, and this is what America believed we knew how to do. We knew how to dodiplomacy, How to establish law, and how to use our military the right way to back it up.We knew it was a political problem that couldn't be solved by force; it had to be solvedby changing people's minds, by creating an expectation of peace. And I want to thank thepeople of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because you made that possible. There is no war, andthere is no expectation of war. That can only be won by leadership, by diplomacy, and bylaw, not just by force. When we began these negotiations in the summer of 1995, andRichard Holbrooke picked up our team, we were in London and we came down toCroatia and we went up to for a holiday, and we went into Bosnia onMount Igman and we lost three members of our team, and Bill Clinton, our president,sent us back again. He was determined that we would stop a war, and it took a lot ofcourage, because when you're the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, youdon't commit your prestige to stop a war through diplomacy unless you're very, verybrave and very smart. And Bill Clinton was, and I honor him for that. Now we neverknew whether we were, Holbrooke used to say, "Are we negotiating or are wemediating?" And we could never quite decide, we had a negotiation plan, and we wouldtalk to the leaders and then they would complain and then we would bring it back andforth with each other. It was what Dick used to say, it was like a sym... It was like jazzrather than a symphony, because there wasn't a score that you could follow, you had topick it up and play it, you had to run with it. We knew that the time was working againstus. We were actually in the process, we bombed Milosevic a few days after thenegotiations began, and I remember being with Milosevic in his villa as our forces werebombing in Bosnia, we were outside Belgrade, and I remember Milosevic calledHolbrooke and me aside and he said, "Mr. Holbrooke," he said, "General Clark," he said,"You must stop this bombing," he said. "It's very bad for peace." Of course it wasprecisely what he needed because it gave him the incentive to settle, and he did. But wenever knew, we never had a road map. We instead had determination and we had the skilland intuition of leaders like Richard Holbrooke and Bill Clinton, and Warren Christopherand many others who participated in this process. And I think it's important when youlook to the future, to realize that human events aren't shaped by road maps. They'reshaped by the courage, the convictions, the vision of the participants. In the case ofBosnia, that vision remains to be developed. I was there as Supreme Allied Commanderwith Karl Westendorf, and later Wolfgang Petrich. When we began to take the Daytonagreement and move it forward and Patty Ashdown's here tonight, and my hat's off tohim, he's done a great job in following this forward, this process, and thank you verymuch, Patty, for that leadership that you've given us, but we're not done yet in Bosnia.We've still got 6,000 European Union troops there, and the agreement is still this, well, itwas the best we could get at the time, but who ever heard of a state that had two armies,that had these entities, that had a tri-presidency, that said things that it didn't mean, butwhat we found was you had to get people to say them, and write them and commit thembefore they could mean them, and so step by step we used the language of Dayton to takethe process forward. We did arrest war criminals, and we had moved the process forward,but we're a long way from being done yet. You see, what I'd like to see in Bosnia isreally two things: That I discover, as I thought through it, that we could fix, if we'revisionary enough now, and strong enough, and committed enough to the people ofBosnia, Bosnia's not back together yet because there are young people from Bosnia allover the world who have hopes, but they're not going back there, because the hopesaren't vested in Bosnia yet. It could be a beautiful country, great natural resources,wonderful location, tremendous history and condition, but it's not right yet, we've got tomake it right. Two things need to be done above all, in my view. In the first place, we'vegot to move away from a party system in Bosnia that's based on national lists. When I gotto Belgium as Supreme Allied Commander, one of my Belgian friends said, "We don'thave democracy in Belgium." I said, "You don't?" They said, "No, we havepartyocracy." My wife said, "What do you mean, what do they mean by that?" It'sbecause there were lists of people on parties, you didn't vote for your representative andyour representative wasn't accountable for what he brought home to the district. Youvoted for parties and then they picked people off the list and put them in positions. Sadly,when we did the Dayton Peace Accord, the best we could get were the nationalistparties, and this representation off national lists. Can't we do better than that now? Can'twe have electoral districts and have single-member constituencies where somebodyactually has to represent the interests of the people to the national government and bringhome the jobs and the educations and the skill of training and the healthcare, and theenvironmental protection and the roads, can't we have somebody who stands up for thepeople directly to the government? It is the essence of what we believe democracy'sabout in America. I just commended it to you because even though there are still manyEuropean countries who don't do this, I think the experience of the countries that do do itis that government is much more responsive to the needs of the people, and I think thesecond lesson, the lesson I learned the hard way in Bosnia, I went to the member of the, Iwas going to see the new member of the Tribe presidency, he was a Croat, and I said,"Where should we meet," and he said, "Come to Mostar." He said, "Come to," I said,"Where are we going to meet in Mostar," he said, "Come to my bank," I said, "Yourbank?" He said, "Yes, come to my bank." So we drove up to the bank, and I said, "Thisis your bank," and he said, "Yes, I started this bank," and I said, "Do you still own it,"and he said, "Of course I own it." Well, in the United States, we found that it's better ifyou can separate private interests from public interests, and that if you're charged withexecuting the public's interests, that you have to separate those interests from personaland private interests. So we began a process of financial disclosure documents. We did itfor the military in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but it's a process that needs to go all the waythrough, and not only in Bosnia, but through much of the developing world. People haveto know the difference when they're looking at their leadership, whether the motivesbehind it are for the public good or for the private good. There's nothing wrong withpeople taking actions for the private good, but not when they're in public office chargedwith executing responsibilities for the public good, and without financial disclosurestatements, there's no way of knowing. So I think we've got a little bit of work to do, andI know the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina will do it, and I know the people of Daytonwill support it, and certainly those of us who've been involved in the process will followit with great interest. We want to invest in Bosnia. We think it's a great country, and Iwant my friends to come over there and create jobs for people in Bosnia. I don't know ifthe time's right yet. I hope it is, we're looking at it now, but I know it can be made somuch better, and we'll ask for you all to do it, but I think the lessons of this 10thanniversary go well beyond he Balkans. I think they go to the events in the world at large.It is a time of enormous challenge for the United States, for our friends and allies abroad,really for people around the world. Force has been used. The armies of the United States,the Marines, some of the hardware you see in this room have been committed, and a greatstruggle is underway in Iraq, and in many other places. The lesson of Dayton is, that greatstruggles aren't won by force of arms alone, that great struggles are won by changing theideas that motivate people. By reaching the ideas, by reaching their hearts, by touchingtheir spirit, by giving them hope, by taking away the expectation of fear, by treating themwith respect, by reaching out and building communities. I'd be the last one to tell you thatthe military doesn't have a role to play. It does, and I was proud to play that role onbehalf of the military here at Dayton. I had maps, and I argued with Milosevic, and webrought the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff into the discussion, talked about troopdeployments and how to make a military presence effective, but I never once fooledmyself that that was the deciding factor in what's happened in Bosnia. And it won't bethe deciding factor in what happens elsewhere either. Winning a struggle involveswinning people's hearts and minds. There's no other way that conflict ends. We've endedit in the Balkans; we've got a lot left to do. I hope that people around the world will takea look at this 10th anniversary of Dayton, will remember the pain of 200-250,000 dead.Two million displaced. Billions of dollars lost. The anguish that gripped Europe andunderstand that what's been resolved over 10 years was resolved not by force of armsalone, but by wise leadership, by diplomacy, by insistence on the rule of law, by bringingpeople together, and by changing what's in their hearts. That is the lesson of Dayton, andthat's the lesson that should go out from this conference. It's been a great honor to bewith you, thank you so much. Thank you.