BUILDING PEACE IN THE BALKANS : Clinton Seeks Support on Road to Bosnia


On his way to Bosnia, President Clinton stopped off in the city of the Grand Ole Opry to defend his deployment of U.S. troops in the Balkans, drum up support for his budget policies and raise some money.

Clinton spoke at the Peterbilt truck plant, where three workers, all in the Army reserves, were dispatched to Germany to support U.S. troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“Most of the time, these people work right beside you,” the president told a cheering crowd of workers, many wearing their factory’s red-and-white striped baseball caps. “Today they are a long way away, working for a better, safer world.


“What we’re doing in Bosnia, and what your three co-workers are doing, is part of America’s efforts to create a world where people like you everywhere can build strong families and have decent jobs and relate to one another in an atmosphere of peace. That is what those people are doing in Bosnia. And I am very proud of them.”

The U.S. troops in Bosnia are part of a larger North Atlantic Treaty Organization force implementing the peace accord signed last month by the leaders of three nations that were part of the former Yugoslav federation.

The Clinton administration helped broker the agreement through intense diplomatic efforts.

“We have worked hard not to try to fight a war but to bring a peace,” the president said. “And all Americans should be proud of what they are doing in Bosnia.”

To ward off political and military opponents of the Dayton accord, the CIA is establishing a significant clandestine presence for the first time in Bosnia, according to published reports today.

“They will deal with bad guys and keep track of good police and intelligence types,” one government intelligence expert told the Washington Post.

On his Nashville stop, Clinton also addressed the budget battle in Washington, explaining why he has rejected GOP efforts to trim spending in Medicaid, Medicare and other programs.


“We’re for a government in Washington that plays its part as your partner to see that everybody has a chance to win,” Clinton said. “That’s what this whole budget debate is about.”

Clinton also repeated his new budget proposal--to agree on overall numbers now but delay some difficult policy issues until after the fall election.


But Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) rejected Clinton’s idea, which was first presented Thursday.

“I think it’s a nonstarter,” Dole said while campaigning in Alabama for the GOP presidential nomination. “. . . I mean, that’s like the two teams at the Super Bowl showing up and advancing to the four-yard line from zero and asking for cheers.”

Clinton’s stop in Nashville had all the makings of a traditional campaign stop. Not only did Clinton schmooze with factory workers, but he and Vice President Al Gore held a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for the Democratic faithful. Tennessee is the vice president’s home state.

Late Friday, the president boarded Air Force One for his weekend trip to Bosnia. The president’s itinerary includes time with troops based in Tuzla and short meetings with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and perhaps Croatian President Franjo Tudjman.


“I will do what I can while I’m there to help to encourage the parties to follow the letter and the spirit” of the peace accord, Clinton told the Voice of America in an interview for televised broadcast.

In a videotaped message, Clinton urged the people of Bosnia to “seize the promise” of the peace plan.

“I believe the greatest struggle you face is not among Muslims and Serbs and Croats; it is between those who embrace peace and those who reject it,” Clinton said. “So each one of you must choose. You have seen the horror of war, you know the promise of peace. Choose peace.”