May 5, 1999

MEMORANDUM TO: OPINION LEADERS

FROM: GARY SCHMITT

SUBJECT: Statement of Sen. John McCain

I want to draw your attention to the following remarks made by Sen. John McCain yesterday on the Senate floor.

Statement of Sen. John McCain
on Senate Joint Resolution 20

Let me identify for my colleagues the price paid by Kosovars for the President’s repeated and indefensible ruling out of ground troops. Mr. Milosevic was so certain of the limit to our commitment that he felt safe enough to widely disperse his forces. Instead of massing his forces to meet a possible ground attack, he has deployed them in small units to reach more towns and villages in less time than if the President had remained silent on the question of ground troops. In other words, he has been able to displace, rape and murder more Kosovars more quickly than he could have if he feared he might face the mightiest army on earth. That...is a fact of this war that is undeniable. And shame on the President for creating it.

Now, what is left to us, as our war on the cheap fails to achieve the objectives for which we went to the war? Well, bombing pauses seem to be an idea in vogue. They were popular once before, in another war, and I personally witnessed how effective they were. No, I don’t have much regard for the diplomatic or military efficacy of bombing pauses. As a matter of fact, it was only when bombing pauses were finally abandoned in favor of sustained, strategic bombing that almost six hundred of my comrades and I recovered our freedom. I dare say, some of the years that we had lost were attributable to bombing pauses. I will not support a bombing pause...until Milosevic surrenders, not a moment before.

My father gave the order to send B-52s -- planes that did not have the precision-guided munitions that so impress us all today. He gave the order to send them to bomb the city where his oldest son was held a prisoner of war. That is a pretty hard thing for a father to do...but he did it because it was his duty, and he would not shrink from it. He did it because he didn’t believe America should lose a war, or settle for a draw or some lesser goal than it had sacrificed its young to achieve. He knew that leaders were expected to make hard choices in war. Would that the President had half that regard for the responsibilities of his office.

Give peace a chance. Yes, peace is a wonderful condition. Sweeter than many here will ever fully appreciate. The Kosovars appreciate it. They are living in its absence, and it is a horrible experience. But the absence of freedom is worse, they know that too. They know it well. And if the price of peace is that we abandon them to the cruelty of their oppressors, then the price is too high.

Some have suggested that we can drop our demand that NATO keep the peace in Kosovo. Let the UN command any future peacekeeping force instead. But a UN peacekeeping force led directly to the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia. I think the Kosovars would rather they not have that kind of peace....And we should not impose it on them.

Give peace a chance. If we cannot keep our word to prevail over this inferior power that threatens our interests and our most cherished ideals, than it is unlikely that we will long know a real peace. We may enjoy a false peace for a brief time, but that will pass. Whatever your views about whether we were right or wrong to get involved in this war, why would you think that losing will recover what we have risked in the Balkans. If we fail to win this war our allies and our enemies will lose their respect for our resolve and our power....And we will soon face far greater threats than we face today. We will know a much more dangerous absence of peace than we are experiencing today.

Mr. President, I ask my colleagues...to put aside our reservations, our past animosities, and encourage, implore, cajole, beg, shame this administration into doing its duty. Shame on the president if he persists in abdicating his responsibilities. But shame on us if we let him.