U.S. Official Calls for Intervention to Stop Bosnian Genocide
Is U.S. Allowing Bosnian Genocide?
State Dept. official writes Bosnia’s reality should force intervention
By Jim Abrams
4 February 1994
WASHINGTON — Senior State Department officials have been unwilling to level with the American people about genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina for fear of increasing pressure for U.S. intervention, an official says.
Richard Johnson, who headed the Yugoslavia desk at the State Department from 1990 to 1992, says in a highly critical report that policy-makers “have repeatedly rejected efforts by the bureaus to have them make less equivocal statements of genocide in Bosnia.”
Johnson wrote the paper for the National War College where he is studying while on a one-year leave from the State Department.
The paper says, “Senior U.S. government officials know that Serb leaders are waging genocide in Bosnia but will not say so in plain English because this would raise the pressures for U.S. action.”
Johnson said he interviewed 16 current and former State Department employees in December for the paper. They included at least one of four State Department officials who have resigned to protest U.S. policy on Bosnia.
The administration has said the “ethnic cleansing” campaign of Bosnian Serbs against Muslims [Bosniaks] has been “tantamount to genocide.”
Johnson said policy-makers, concerned that recognition that the Serbs are violating the 1948 U.N. Genocide Convention would compel U.S. action, have twice, in April and September last year, rejected statements prepared by desk officers that made clear that genocide in being committed.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher “has opted out of the Bosnian genocide issue since May,” the paper said.
It said that after months of debate over how to respond to queries from Rep. Frank McCloskey, D-Ind., on the genocide question, Christopher agreed in October to sign off on a strong statement. But it said Christopher annulled his approval later that month after McCloskey, one of Capitol Hill’s most vocal critics of administration inaction in Bosnia, called for Christopher’s resignation.
McCloskey said yesterday that the State Department appeared to be in turmoil over the Bosnia question, with some staffers “very appalled and ashamed” by indecisive policies and “new priorities where we can’t even get them to talk about the Balkans.”
State Department spokesman Mike McCurry said he was not aware of the report.