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NATO's Clark Says He Fell Out With Pentagon - Report
Cohen Warns of Veto Over Kosovo Pullout Bill
Senate Sinks Proposal for Kosovo Withdrawal Deadline
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Gen. Wesley K. Clark
MAY 6, 2000

NATO's Clark Says He Fell Out With Pentagon - Report

(Reuters) - Former NATO commander General Wesley Clark fell out with his Pentagon superiors over the use of ground troops in last year's Kosovo conflict, he said in an interview published on Saturday.
    Clark, who handed over NATO military command to U.S. Air Force General Joseph Ralston on Wednesday, broke his silence on the alleged disagreements when talking to Dutch evening newspaper NRC Handelsblad during one of his last working days.
    ``I don't deny it. It is the work of a commander to weigh things up, it is the work of the Pentagon and the political leaders to control...There will always be frictions in this sort of crisis,'' he said.     ``Gradually it became clear to me that a serious option for ground troops must be prepared in order to enforce entry into Kosovo -- in case the air campaign was not enough to allow the refugees back before winter,'' he said.
    ``I believed we had to take a decision to continue with the preparation of ground troops.''
    ``In the middle of May I presented a proposal to the Pentagon. No one contested it. But I never received approval from the Pentagon and other NATO countries to start the real planning of ground forces. The decision was never taken because Milosevic surrendered.''
    The 78-day conflict halted a brutal two-year anti-separatist campaign by Serbian forces. It ended on June 10.
    ``You should conclude that they (in the Pentagon) were not very enthusiastic about beginning a ground war. But no-one within NATO wanted to start a ground war,'' he said.
    Clark, a four-star general, was the first soldier in NATO's 50-year history to take the military alliance to war.
    At Wednesday's ceremony at NATO headquarters in Belgium to mark the handing over of power to Ralston, Clark gave no hint of bitterness for leaving his post ahead of schedule, thanking NATO member governments and military colleagues ``for their guidance, encouragement and support'' during his term.

Stories from are Copyright © 2000 by the Conservative News Service. Stories from Reuters are Copyright © 2000 by Reuters Limited. All stories are reprinted by permission.

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The Washington Post

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Cohen Warns of Veto Over Kosovo Pullout Bill

By Eric Pianin and Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, May 16, 2000; Page A04

The Clinton administration yesterday launched a campaign to thwart Senate efforts to impose a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Kosovo, as Defense Secretary William S. Cohen threatened a presidential veto and warned that lawmakers were harming prospects for peace.

The Senate could vote by midweek on a military construction bill including language that would cut off funds to keep U.S. troops in Kosovo beyond July 1, 2001.

The House is also likely to vote this week on a bipartisan proposal to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by April 1 unless President Clinton certifies that European allies are meeting their obligations for humanitarian, reconstruction and peacekeeping assistance.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark

Cohen said in a letter that the Senate measure would be "counterproductive to peace in Kosovo" and would "seriously jeopardize" U.S. relations with NATO allies. Meanwhile, Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander, planned to meet with senators today to express his concern that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal "could give [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic the victory he could not achieve on the battlefield," as Clark put it in a letter last week.

The brewing showdown reflects congressional displeasure with continued U.S. involvement in what many lawmakers view as a no-win peacekeeping effort following last year's NATO air war against Milosevic's forces.

The bipartisan Kosovo amendment, drafted by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and attached to the military construction bill, would cut off funds for the 5,900 U.S. troops in Kosovo beyond July 1, 2001 unless Clinton or his successor obtains congressional authorization to keep them there. The bill contains emergency funds to replenish defense accounts diverted to the Kosovo war.

According to Warner, the amendment would provide enough time for the administration to develop an exit plan or for Congress to authorize the mission. "That is not cut-and-run," Warner said in a floor speech last week. "That is not undermining NATO. That is not sending a signal to Milosevic that the United States is turning its back."

But in his letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) yesterday, Cohen said that "while certainly more could be done, we should not lose sight of the fact that the Europeans are in fact carrying this burden" and that U.S. forces account for only about 15 percent of the peacekeepers in Kosovo.

Last week, 11 senators from both parties circulated a letter urging defeat of the Kosovo withdrawal language. The letter, drafted by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), ranking minority member on the Armed Services Committee, and John McCain (R-Ariz.), also a senior member of the panel, said tying NATO burden-sharing to funding of an ongoing mission was a "serious mistake" and would "send the message to NATO that the United States is an unreliable ally."

Clark put it even more strongly in a letter that the senators circulated. Steps called for in the proposal would amount to a "de facto pullout decision by the United States" that would "invalidate the policies, commitments and trust of our allies in NATO, undercut U.S. leadership worldwide and encourage renewed ethnic tensions, fighting and instability in the Balkans," Clark said.

Yesterday, McCain, an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, told reporters, "I would hope the Republicans would consider that perhaps we may have a different president--a Republican president--in the White House next year. Do we want to set this kind of precedent?"

The House proposal, sponsored by Reps. John R. Kasich (R-Ohio), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and others, will be considered in connection with the defense authorization bill for the next fiscal year. A similar initiative, which threatened withdrawal by next month, was rejected in March by a 219-200 vote. It has been modified to pick up more votes, including extending the deadline to next April and allowing the president to waive the deadline for up to 180 days.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company


U.S. House backs measure for Kosovo troop pullout

Ignoring objections by the Clinton administration, the House of Representatives yesterday backed an effort to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Kosovo next year unless NATO allies meet their aid commitments, Reuters writes. The Senate will vote today on a more strongly worded proposal to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Kosovo next year unless Congress authorizes their stay, the report adds. Secretary of State Albright is quoted as saying that in the Balkans, "signs of impatience can be misinterpreted as symptoms of weakness. We cannot afford that in a region where weakness attracts vultures." In a second dispatch, Reuters quotes Lord Robertson as writing in a letter that a NATO ally unilaterally setting a deadline for quitting a NATO operation risked sending a signal to President Slobodan Milosevic "that NATO is divided and that its biggest and most important ally is pulling up stakes." AP specifies that Lord Robertson's letter was sent Tuesday to U.S. Senate Majority leader Trent Lott and Minority Leader Tom Daschle. The dispatch also quotes NATO sources as saying that if the Americans decide to withdraw, it would not only be disastrous for the operation in Kosovo, it would strike a blow to the alliance itself, which for more than 50 years has operated by consensus. Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, quotes a letter by Gen Clark addressed to the Congress as stating that the Congress is in peril of belatedly granting "The victory" to President Milosevic "which he didn't gain on the battlefield."

The Washington Post

Senate Sinks Proposal for Kosovo Withdrawal Deadline

By Eric Pianin and Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, May 19, 2000; Page A10

The Senate yesterday scuttled a proposal to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. ground troops in Kosovo in the face of aggressive administration lobbying and a rebuke from Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) for trying to "tie the president's hand" on foreign policy.

On a 53 to 47 vote, the Senate killed an amendment to a military construction spending bill that would have ended the deployment of U.S. peacekeepers in Kosovo by July 1, 2001, unless the president obtained congressional authorization to extend their stay. Thirty-eight Democrats joined with 15 Republicans to defeat the amendment, which had been added in committee by Sens. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.).

As a measure of the importance of the issue, Vice President Gore took time off from his campaign to preside over the Senate in case his vote was needed to break a tie. Bush, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, warned earlier this week that lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill had "overreached" by attempting to dictate to the president on foreign policy matters.

The vote was a major victory for President Clinton at a time when he faces an array of foreign policy challenges on Capitol Hill. Next week, for instance, the House will take up an administration proposal to grant permanent normal trading status to China, while the president also faces struggles over his aid package for Colombia and economic sanctions against Cuba.

For weeks lawmakers have displayed increasing restiveness about the Clinton administration's policy in Kosovo since last year's NATO air war. The House voted on Wednesday to begin withdrawing troops from Kosovo next April unless the president could certify that NATO allies were assuming more of the peacekeeping burden.

In pressing for an even tougher measure, Byrd and Warner argued that Clinton had recklessly committed troops to the war-torn region without congressional approval and that it was time for lawmakers to demonstrate their displeasure in the strongest terms. But opponents warned that the measure, if approved, would put U.S. troops there at greater risk, strain relations with NATO allies and hand Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic the victory that eluded him on the battlefield last year.

For Congress to impose a deadline for withdrawal that can be lifted only if it changes its mind "creates a year of very dangerous uncertainty, a year of wavering commitments," said Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), a leading opponent.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark

The outcome of the fight appeared in doubt until shortly before the roll was called. While the measure drew substantial bipartisan support last week within the Senate Appropriations Committee, Warner said "the dynamic changed" after the administration waged a "full court press," including a presidential veto threat from Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and strong warnings from Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the former NATO commander.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said that Bush's intervention this week was the decisive factor in the final outcome, but others said it was a combination of factors.

"I can't say [Bush's opposition] changed a single vote but it gave great weight to the arguments we were trying to make," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Bush's chief foe in the GOP primaries and a critic of the amendment.

The House this week attached its Kosovo provision to the defense authorization bill. Under that amendment, the president would have to certify before next April 1 that European allies were meeting a specified percentage of their aid pledge and that they were fulfilling other commitments. Without such certification, the president would have to submit a plan within 30 days for a phased withdrawal of troops.

Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said yesterday he would likely attempt to add the House-passed measure to the Senate version of the defense authorization bill.

The two-day debate echoed arguments that have been raised in virtually every foreign policy crisis since Clinton took office, with critics accusing him of slighting Congress in pursuit of flawed policies while his allies warned against congressional meddling that could undermine U.S. security interests.

"This is about the arrogance of power in a White House that insists on putting our [military forces] in harm's way" without approval of Congress, Byrd argued.

When top NATO officials began assessing whether more troops were necessary for the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo earlier this spring, the Pentagon responded that more soldiers would be useful but that they were not coming from the United States. Indeed the Pentagon has shown no intent of building forces up to the maximum authorized number of 7,000.

If anything, in recent months, the Defense Department has been limiting the role of Task Force Hawk, as the U.S. contingent is known. Under new operating rules issued in March, the 5,900 U.S. troops in Kosovo are restricted to patrolling their relatively tame sector in southeastern Kosovo, and are only allowed to assist in hot spots outside their zone such as the divided city of Mitrovica in the French zone except in emergencies.

Staff writer Roberto Suro contributed to this report.

© 2000 The Washington Post Company


U.S. Senate kills measure to cut Kosovo troops

The Senate, heeding objections from the Clinton administration, killed a proposal on Thursday to require the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Kosovo next year unless Congress authorized them to stay. The measure was stripped from a $4.7 billion emergency spending package for Kosovo on a 53-47 vote after Senate opponents argued it would embolden Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and lead to dangerous uncertainty in the Balkans. Vice President Al Gore was on hand in the Senate chamber to break a potential tie, but the measure fell relatively easily as more than a dozen Republicans broke ranks to oppose the proposal. The proposal, sponsored by Senators John Warner of Virginia, a Republican, and Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a Democrat, would have cut of f funds for the 5,900 U.S. troops in Kosovo after July 1, 2001, unless Congress voted to keep them there. (Reuters 182013 GMT May 00)


Bill to force Kosovo exit rejected

U.S. Senate yesterday rejected a measure to set a deadline for withdrawing American ground troops from the region. The International Herald Tribune writes that the provision was struck by the Senate from a military construction spending bill in a 53-to-47 vote. The daily also recalls yesterday's warnings by NATO's secretary general about jeopardizing the Alliance's peacekeeping mission in the Balkans by setting deadlines. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times carry similar articles.


NATO chief tries to reassure Congress on Kosovo

NATO secretary-general George Robertson told members of the U.S. Congress that Europeans were bearing their fair share of the burden of peacekeeping and reconstruction in Kosovo. At meetings on Wednesday on Capitol Hill, where legislators have tried to set conditions for U.S. troops staying in the troubled province, Lord Robertson said on Thursday he also tried to reassure them that Kosovo was beginning to stabilize. He said Europeans account for 80 percent of the 45,000 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo and Europeans were spending 10 times as much as the United States on development assistance to the countries of southeastern Europe. He also said that there were grounds for optimism and that he expected the size of the peacekeeping force to decline over t ime, as it has in the similar case of Bosnia. Members of Congress who met Lord Robertson were not immediately available to say whether he had convinced them.(Reuters 221756 GMT Jun 00)


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