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  •   White House Hopefuls Speak on Kosovo

    Washingtonpost.com Staff
    Thursday, May 20, 1999; 10:51 a.m. EDT

    The bombing campaign in Kosovo has drawn mixed reactions from the candidates vying for the White House in 2000. Following are selected statements from the candidates on the airstrikes:

    Lamar Alexander | Bill Bradley | Pat Buchanan
    George W. Bush | Elizabeth Dole | Steve Forbes | Al Gore
    John Kasich | Alan Keyes | John McCain | Dan Quayle | Bob Smith


    Lamar Alexander (R): "I said 'no ground troops' before the bombing began. That was for a peace-keeping force. If there were to be ground troops for that, those should have been Europeans. But now we're in a war, the president should define his objectives and ask the authority of Congress to use whatever he needs to meet the objectives, including ground troops if necessary.
    (Live discussion on washingtonpost.com, May 19).

    "To shoot our way in would require 100,000 to 200,000 troops, and it would take two to three months to prepare and supply such an invasion."
    (Speech to Columbia (S.C.) Rotary Club, April 19).

    "We should say to them – should have said to them – 'You should take the lead in this issue. Our airpower will support you. Our logistics will support you. We will help you get out if you get in trouble ... 'No American ground troops in Kosovo'"
    (Associated Press, March 24).

    Bill Bradley (D): "Given the choice of bombing, ground troops or diplomatic settlement, I think diplomatic settlement is important here."
    (During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, May 12)

    "I think our best shot now is to aggressively push some negotiations and be flexible on that, because otherwise I think we will have a very long stay in the region."
    (Speech in Dubuque, Iowa, May 7)

    "I've had some questions about objectives, but I also believe it's important you do not commit troops into an area until you've figured out how to get them out of an area."
    (Des Moines Register, April 18)

    "We are escalating our commitment without establishing a clear exit strategy. As with Bosnia, we run the risk of becoming bogged down in a quagmire whose end we cannot predict or control."
    (Bradley statement, March 24)

    Patrick J. Buchanan (R): "Today, America has become ensnared in a civil war in a Balkan peninsula where no U.S. army ever fought before, and no president ever asserted a vital interest. Daily, we plunge more deeply in. Our motives were noble -- to protect an abused people -- but most now concede that we failed to weigh the risks of launching this war."
    (Commencement Address at The Citadel, May 8)

    "It's a Balkan war. It's a civil war. It's a very ugly war, but it is not America's war."
    (Speech at Charleston Southern University, March 31)

    "This Balkan war is not America's war. It amounts to the breakup of Yugoslavia, which has lost Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, and now is losing Kosovo. There is no vital interest of the United States in that Balkan peninsula and whose flag flies over Pristina. There never has been."
    (Larry King Live, March 27)

    "We ought to use our good offices to try to diminish the killing, but when you drop bombs on people, there tend to be reprisals and reactions."
    (Larry King Live, March 27)

    "If the Europeans want to intervene, that's their business. But, if I were president, I would remove every United States soldier from the Balkan peninsula.
    (Larry King Live, March 27)

    "The killings are tragic. But how do you bring peace to an area by bombing soldiers who are fighting in their own country?"
    (Austin American-Statesman, March 26)

    "They're mock-test-firing missiles at American forces in Korea an U.S. bases in Okinawa and we're at war with Kosovo? And China's our strategic partner? I think everybody at the White House should all be arrested as security risks."
    (Baton Rouge Advocate, March 26)

    Gov. George W. Bush (R-Tex.): "NATO has to be confident in its capacity to help preserve the peace in Europe. So I think it is in America's strategic interest in this case, that once we are in the position we get into, that Mr. Milosevice be taught a lesson."
    (The New York Times, April 19)

    "All options ought to be on the table. If the mission is to win, then I think all options ought to be available to the military planners. . . . I don't have all the intelligence briefings, but the commander-in-chief must say this is the mission and use whatever means necessary to achieve our objective. If his military briefers say it's important to use troops to achieve the mission, I would be supportive, if two things exist: first, a strong commitment to win, and second, a clear exit strategy."
    (Telephone interview with The Washington Post, April 5)

    "The ultimate question is, will this military action lead to the goal of ending the conflict and bringing peace and stability to the region?"
    (Austin American-Statesman, March 26)

    Elizabeth Hanford Dole (R): "We must remain resolute to further the cause of peace and to protect against an aggressor whose designs are regionwide. We are the greatest nation on the face of the earth and we must not back down."
    (Press release, April 2)

    "I supported the air strikes and I still do. No one said this action would be quick or easy. The hardest and most important things seldom are. But we must act in a unified way to bring aid to the refugees while continuing the military air campaign."
    (Press release, April 2)

    "Because I believe this action can be instrumental in forging a peaceful solution to a dangerous, escalating military conflict, I support it. . . .I urge all Americans to support our armed forces, especially while our troops are in harm's way."
    (Dole statement, March 24)

    Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes (R): "Why not begin training and arming the Kosovars to run the murderous Milosevic out of their homeland, in addition to intensifying the air war and cutting off the supply lines to Serbian forces in Kosovo? It is unconscionable not to let the Kosovars defend themselves, their families, their homes and communities."
    (Web site press release, April 23)

    "If we had taken firm action against Milosevic - armed the Kosovar Albanians several years ago, giving them the power to fight back and warned him against pursuing his designs on Kosovo with a viable threat of airstrikes, we might have stayed his bloody hand."
    (Web site press release, April 1)

    "I support the bombing. I do not support putting in ground forces. . . . Ultimately with Kosovo, we should have made clear, and must make clear to Milosevic, either there is true autonomy, withdrawal of all Serb forces from Kosovo, or there's going to be an independent Kosovo."
    (Austin American-Statesman, March 26)

    "We should make sure that the victims of aggression are armed sufficiently to defend themselves – it’s their lives, their homes, their communities and families and they would do it."
    (Rush Limbaugh Show, March 24)

    Vice President Gore (D): "The question we're really facing, as a world community, and we as Americans are facing it squarely: Do we want the 21st century to be defined by men wearing black ski masks who knock on doors in the middle of the night and herd innocent women and children on to railroad cars while they kill the men?"
    (Larry King Live, April 2)

    "I think the American people want to see politics removed from any kind of action where our military forces are involved overseas. I think that they want to see unified support for our country's objectives, and I think, in the main, we have had that." (Larry King, April 2)

    "This man, Milosevic, has started three wars already. He uses the classic totalitarian technique of holding on to power by stirring up hatred among his own people of anyone who is different, different ethnically, different religiously, and then focusing that anger into a frenzy of violence that results in the killing and abuse of all those families."
    (The Washington Post, March 30)

    "We must stay the course. We must make the cost to Milosevic so great that he changes his calculations. He must see that he cannot pursue with impunity this campaign of ethnic cleansing – the likes of which he has launched in Bosnia and also before in Kosovo."
    (White House statement, March 29)

    Rep. John R. Kasich (R-Ohio): "I have reluctantly concluded that military intervention -- through air power or ground troops -- is not in the national interest. . . . The United States should encourage new attempts at a peaceful resolution, before this crisis flashes into a wider conflict."
    (Kasich statement, April 16)

    "The administration to this day has never made clear, either to Congress or the American people, why U.S. intervention in this civil war is in the vital interests of the United States."
    (Kasich statement, March 25)

    Alan Keyes (R): "...We are considering a dispute within a country between two sides, neither of which has been conducting itself in the conflict in a particularly savory manner. But it has been a conflict confined within the borders of the country, concerning the relationship between the government of that country and one of its provinces – almost the classic definition of a civil war....

    "We have not been in any way attacked by the government of Yugoslavia. Our direct interests have been in no way threatened by this government. We are confronted with no circumstance or alliance that represents a larger threat to our interests in Europe or a global threat of any kind. None of these things, which in the past could have been invoked under certain circumstances to justify the need for our military intervention, exists in this instance."
    (WorldNetDaily, March 26)

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "Mr. Milosevic has been able to displace, rape and murder more Kosovars more rapidly than he could have had he feared he might face the mightiest army on earth."
    (Opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, May 10)

    "Mr. Clinton and our NATO allies have waged a war on the cheap, with tragic but predictable consequences. The president's repeated, public and gratuitous disavowals of the ground-troops option are mystifying to most diplomatic and military strategists. . . .The president does not want the power vested in his office to defend America's interests and values in the world, because the hazard inherent in its exercise exceed his personal threshold for political risk, a threshold I sometimes feel is only wide enough to admit policies on the order of Social Security demagoguery."
    (Opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, May 10)

    "The president of the United States is prepared to lose a war rather than do the hard work, the politically risky work, of fighting it as the leader of the greatest nation on Earth should fight when our interests and values are imperiled."
    (During debate on the Senate floor, May 4)

    "I don't believe by any measure you could say that we are winning. That doesn't mean we can't win, but I think it's clear there was a miscalculation of what Mr. Milosevic would do.
    (Meet the Press, April 11)

    "I have significant doubts about the political will to maintain a many months long just bombing campaign. I think the American people, with some justification, deserve a resolution to this issue as quickly as possible. That's one of the lessons of another war that John (Kerry) and I fought in."
    (Fox News Sunday, April 11)

    "When I urged the president of the United States not to rule out the option of ground forces, then I also assumed responsibility for what may be the loss of young Americans' lives."
    (The Washington Post, April 7)

    "We must now do whatever it takes to win. We cannot allow this Balkan thug to prevail. We must do whatever is necessary, including perhaps sending in ground troops."
    (The Washington Post, March 31)

    "Whether one agrees or not that we initially had a strategic interest in the Balkans, we have one now. There is no alternative to success."
    (LEGI-SLATE, March 29)

    "We're in it and we have to win it, and we have to do whatever is necessary in order to ensure that this is not a failure. That means that we have to exercise every option. We must win this conflict with whatever it takes."
    (ABC's 'This Week, March 28)

    "Congress and the American people have good reason to fear that we are heading toward another permanent garrison of Americans in a Balkan country where our mission is confused and our exit strategy a complete mystery."
    (The New York Times, March 24)

    Dan Quayle (R): "When you make a public statement that you're going to bomb and you have set a deadline, once that deadline passes, you better do what you say you're going to do, or don't say it in the first place. And that's what this administration has failed to do.
    (Meet the Press, April 11)

    "I wouldn't have gotten us into this mess. It's been a mistake from the very beginning. . . . I've heard the discussion on ground troops, and I find it very interesting, this time around, that here is the Congress of the United States wanting to give the president more options. The president should never have taken ground troops off the table in the first place."
    (Meet the Press, April 11)

    "We say we're going to win this, but win what? The administration has no answer on this."
    (The Washington Post, April 7)

    "Every time we have had a deadline set, it has been postponed, and now Milosevic feels that he has a strong position, that he sees a weakened American president."
    (Austin American-Statesman, March 26)

    "We cannot afford to have another president who needs on-the-job training in foreign policy. We've made so many mistakes over the past six years." (Lafayette Daily Advertiser, March 25)

    Robert C. Smith (R): "I believe it's a civil war and we have no national interests there. This is something that's not worth risking one drop of American blood for." (The Washington Post, March 27)


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