"We understand that it is not self-evident to the majority of Americans" why the Dayton talks on peace in the former Yugoslavia are important, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told his Nov. 9 luncheon audience. The danger if they fail, he said, is the prospect of widening circles of conflict affecting all states in the region, which could eventually include Greece, Turkey and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union--fanning the "spread of post-Communist disorder." And "the Islamic world is watching," he added.
Failure would "threaten the viability of NATO," the bilateral relations with our allies and increase the strain between the U.S. and the Russian Federation. Asked "why not just let them fight it out until they finally get tired of it," he replied that this "assumes that the conflict will implode inwards rather than explode outwards." He said the expectation is that American involvement on the ground, assuming the peace process goes forward, "should be a one-year operation." Two cardinal criteria, he said, are one, we must have an exit strategy, and two, there must be "robust" rules of engagement.
Talbott also stressed a need to view the situation in terms of "moral polity as well as real polity." The "deja vu of white armbands" to mark men for mass graves reminds the world that we are seeing "genocide in our time," he said, and the proceedings of the tribunal in bringing the war criminals to international justice "must still proceed."
The former journalist added that the press has played a heroic role in a conflict dangerous to cover by courageously reporting the evidence of genocide.
National Press Club Record, Volume XLV, No. 42. November 16, 1995.