Holding Back Aid Doesn't Serve Our Soldiers
Says Clinton Adminstration, Pressing for Funds
(WASHINGTON, MARCH 7) The Clinton administration pressed Congress Wednesday to approve $200 million in reconstruction aid for Bosnia, saying the money goes hand in hand with the job of American peacekeeping troops in the war-torn country.
"Holding back the dollars we need for relief and reconstruction doesn’t serve our soldiers," Anthony Lake, the president’s national security adviser, said. "It doesn’t serve the people we’re trying to help and it doesn’t serve our nation’s interests."
The administration has been encouraging nations around the world to contribute to an international rebuilding fund for Bosnia after 3 1/2 years of war. In the United States, though, foreign aid is not politically popular, in an era of deficit spending and budget cutting. The administration believes it is critical to win approval of the $200 million for Bosnia before an April 17 donors’ conference of wealthy nations. "If we do not come to the table with $200 million, these other nations will not bother coming," an administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Congress has withheld approval because of concerns about the presence of foreign resistance forces in Bosnia. Administration officials believe they have made headway in calming those fears. Lake outlined the administration’s case for aid to Bosnia in a speech at George Washington University surveying the administration’s foreign policy and the use of American force abroad.
He said that a clearly defined exit strategy such as the one-year withdrawal goal for troops in Bosnia must be a hallmark of foreign intervention.
'Tough Love' Policy by Washington
"By carefully defining the mission and clearly setting a deadline, we serve notice that our only goal is to give governments and people the breathing room they must have to tackle their own problems," Lake said. "This ‘tough love’ policy may sound harsh to some, it may strike others as a gamble. But consider the alternative: self-defeating efforts to take on responsibilities that are not ours, to create unsustainable dependencies instead of giving nations a chance to make their way independently."
Brushing aside criticism, Lake said, "Some people, in a curious bit of nostalgia for the Cold War, complain that our policy lacks a single, overarching principle that it can’t be summed up on a bumper sticker." However, he said America’s role has not changed. "Now, as then, our special role in the world is to defend, enlarge and strengthen the community of democratic nations."
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