Current and former U.S., Bosnian, European, and international organization officials, as well as scholars, and policy analysts will examine lessons from the Dayton negotiations and the Bosnian peacebuilding process of the last ten years.
Amb. Richard C. Holbrooke
Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke was U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Canadian Affairs from 1994 through 1996, during which time he led the Bosnian peace talks, which resulted in the Dayton Peace Accords.
Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of State, he was U.S. Ambassador to Germany. He is currently responsible for business development in Europe and the Far East for Credit Suisse First Boston. He also acts as President Clinton's special envoy to Cyprus, and consults with the White House on foreign policy issues.
Ambassador Holbrooke is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the Citizens Committee for New York City, and the Economic Club of New York. Prior to assuming his current post, he was a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, the America-China Society, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and the International Rescue Committee. He is Chairman of the American Academy in Berlin.
He is co-author of Counsel to the President, the memoirs of Clark Clifford, as well as numerous articles and columns on foreign policy.
This presentation by the Ambassador really drove home to me that diplomats are just everyday folk trying to do the best job they can. It just so happens the stakes are so high when they go to work, and if they don't do the best they can, thousands or millions of people may die. Very entertaining stories from a war that defined the first Bush's presidency by his lack of action, and should have defined the Clinton Presidency as one that combined strength with compassion - the velvet fist - appropriate for that part of the world.
It is a great pleasure for me,a true privilege to introduce my friend,former Ambassador to Germany,our leader at Dayton, one of the greatdiplomats of the 20th century,Ambassador Richard Holbrooke,recipient of the 2005 Dayton Peace Prize.Thank you. Saturday, November 18,1995 from a book I hope you'll all buy,if you haven't already.Negotiations, this is ten years agotomorrow of course, negotiations havea certain pathology, a kind of life cycle,almost like living organisms.At a certain point, which one mightnot recognize until later, the focus and momentumneeded to get an agreement can disappear.Something can happen to break a single-mindedcommitment, either endless squabbles over small detailswould now replace the larger search for peace,or the Europeans would leave, publicly signalingan impending failure. We worried thatif we were still at Wright-Patterson over theThanksgiving Holiday, only a few days away,it would create the impression we had stayed too long andaccomplished too little. Don Kerrick, the General whowas the White House Representative was bleak in hisdaily report to President Clinton.Endgame, personal dynamics is taking a downward spiral.Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs are never seen together,they rarely speak. Izibegovich, Mohamed Sacherbay,Harris Eladich, continue to amaze all of us withtheir desire to torpedo one another and perhaps a peace agreement.So that's where we were ten years ago today,and yet we stand here tonight, we sit here tonight with thisextraordinary gathering in this city,and I cannot thank you enough for the honor you pay me,and what you've done to make this event possible,and I don't just mean the event here tonight,I mean the agreement itself, so before I talkabout the Dayton Peace Agreement,I want to talk about Dayton the city.I want to thank the mayor, and themayor of Sarajevo, both of whom are here with us tonight,and I also want to acknowledge Oscar Bunshavand Doris Ponitz and Hans Chuden andCharles and Anne Simms, for their enormous contributions.(Applause)I also want to say a word about my friend Bruce Hetchner.It is true, it is literally true and it mustbe acknowledged that if Bruce were not part of this process,if he hadn't energized this process early onwhen he was with the University of Dayton and continuinghis efforts from Tufts, this event would not have taken place,so Bruce, I congratulate you for your role as well.Dayton was, as Doris said, something of an accident,but not entirely. Of course, I had never beento Dayton before, I came here on October 31st, 1995,but we knew certain things. I had said fromthe beginning that I would never go to a city like Geneva,the ultimate symbol of failed diplomatic missions,a place where people are cynical, cold bureaucrats,and everything leaks to the press and to each other.I had simply told the White House as the shuttle progressed thatwe wouldn't go to Geneva. Most of the people in the White Houseand in the State Department wanted the negotiation to take place inEurope. It's very important because so many of you in this roomare students of diplomacy. It's very important to understandwhat had happened here. The war was so terrible,it was tearing Europe apart, American diplomacy under boththe Bush and Clinton administrations had been such a failure,European diplomacy had been such a failure despitethe efforts of the people like Wolfgang Ischingerand I'll get to his role in a minute, that there was a feelingdespite the fact the shuttle was beginning to define the issues,lower the differences, we'd already gotten a cease-fire,we had bombed to stop the bombing,there was a feeling that we took too big a risk holding it on American soil.I took the opposite position.We were a totally invested and controlling the negotiation,controlling the site, controlling the agenda wasabsolutely essential to maximize our chances for success,and nine of the ten people on the National Security Councilopposed this position, including the Secretary of State,but to Warren Christopher's credit, even though he opposedholding it in the U.S., he said he would back the negotiator,and he switched. Al Gore supported me from the beginning,and President Clinton said, "Let's do it in the U.S.,"and then we started looking for a site.Camp David itself, the site of the most famous and most successfulnegotiation in the last 30 years, the 1978 negotiation that President Carterdid between the (name unclear) and Anwar Saddatwas simply not big enough, we have here in the room today a veteranof the Camp David court and the former Assistant Secretarycolleague of mine in the State Department, Hal Saunders, andI consulted with him at length on Camp David,it just wasn't big enough, we had 800 people in the end (word unclear),they had about 50 maximum at Camp David, and wehad three major national delegations, Bosnian, Croat, and Serb,plus the Europeans, so it was a very different, much more complicated negotiation,so with Camp David out, we looked everywhere, we looked at Newport,as Senator Pell said, "Why don't you use the breakers at Newport,"so we looked at that, it was kind of cute, but not quite right.We looked at Pachatico, the Rockefeller State,which was a wonderful site, and we could have sealed it off,but we didn't have enough bedrooms, and finally my assistant,Rosemary Pauley, went out around the country looking,we wanted something fairly close to Washington but not too close,away from the press but accessible so we could flysenior officials out here as required, and we hadno idea what we were getting in for, and she came back,and said it's right, Patterson Air Base, so we came out here,the Air Force Commanders did a wonderful jobof fixing up the place, and they used the, of course,perfect military story, once we were coming,they used our presence to do things they always wantedto do but didn't have money, spent a couple hundred thousand dollarsto upgrade stuff, blaming it on us, which was greatbut then they tried to send us the bill later, that we wouldn't agree to,so here we came to Dayton. And although one of my close friends,whose aunt is in the room tonight, Strobe Talbot,then Deputy Secretary of State, was from Dayton,I'd never been out here, and every time I'd been to DaytonI usually start by saying, "Would all those people in the audience who arenot relatives of Strobe Talbot raise their hands?"Because everybody seems to be his relative. So we came out here.It was wonderful. The Air Force did a fantastic job,they constructed barbed-wire fences, they gave us security within security,they did everything you could ever want, there could not be,I'm sure Wolfgang Ischinger would agree, it's not possibleto conceive of a better negotiating situation, not possible,and if you compare it to the shambles of the 1999 negotiations at the Chateau Vrambieoutside Paris, which I think you were also involved in,where the French trying to match Dayton created a situationwhere the Press was wandering around the courtyard with theSecretary of State and the Albanians, you could never get things going,you could see the value of a site that works. That's all clear,and those of you who are students of negotiation should considerthe physical attributes of negotiations matter,but what none of us expected was the city,the people, there were peace vigils.There were extraordinary manifestations of support, apeople formed a human link around the base,some of you are probably here tonight, andwell you didn't have enough people to quite surroundit because it was about, I don't know, eight or ten thousand acres,but you did a pretty good job. Every time we left thebase there were people with signs, praying,people put candles in the windows, when we went to restaurants in town,L'Auberge was the one we went to the most often,it was a pretty good restaurant.We, people would congratulate us.I walked in to a restaurant once with Warren Christopher in town,and people stood and applauded him. As I wrote here,in the book, Daytonians were proud to be part of history.Large signs at the commercial airports hailed Dayton as the temporarycenter of international peace. When we went into restaurants,people crowded around saying they were praying for us.Families at the air base placed candles for peace.A second point: Ohio's famous ethnic diversity was also on display,none of this as Doris said, none of this was intended.All of it had a tremendous additional value.We did everything possible to emphasize the fact thatin the American heartland, here in Ohio,people from every part of Southeastern Europe livedtogether in peace, their competition restricted to softball games,church rivalries, and the occasional bar room fight.Actually, I was told it was every Saturday night,but I didn't put that in. Once as Milosevic and I were taking a walk,about 100 Albanian-Americans came to the outer fence of Wright-Pattersonwith megaphones to plead the case for Kosovo. I suggested we walk over to chat with them butMilosevic refused, saying testily they were obviously being paid by a foreign power,and Kosovo was an internal problem, a position with which I strongly disagree,of course I wrote this book before Kosovo triggeredthe events that led to the second bombing, the liberationof Kosovo, and Milosevic's incarceration a year later in the Hague.So that was Dayton to us, an extraordinary place,a place which to me is just for me, my second favorite cityin the U.S. after my hometown of New York.There's no way this could have happened if it wasin Geneva or Washington or some jaded city, and I thank you all,enormously, and so I wanted to say in accepting this tremendous award tonight,that I had come here intending to give the full amount to some refugee organizationswhich had taken me to Bosnia for the first time in 1991-92, but tonightI met Ralph Dahl, and he told me about the DaytonInternational Peace museum, so I want to change this a bitand offer Ralph, who doesn't know what I'm going to say,I want to give a portion of this award to this great museum.Ralph, where are you? Your decision, Bruce, Ralph,the Mayor, the citizens of Dayton, to keep the spirit of Dayton alive,Doris said that they researched and found that no othercity had ever done this after a peace agreement,I think that's probably right, I have the same impression,is fantastic and to me coming from well,New York is a bit different and I live in New York,but Washington is a cynical town, it really is,and in the worst sense of the word, and I don't just meanthe stuff you hear on television, I mean theattitudes of people in Washington, I don't feel comfortable there,even though it's where I do the work that I care about most,that's why when I'm not in the government Kati andI tend to live, try to live in New York, whichis a much friendlier town, but the cynicism is in such contrast,and every time I come out here, this is my fifth trip in the last ten years,I just, it's inspiring, and I go back home and try to tellpeople about it, and I thank you from thebottom of my heart and I congratulate Farida Masonivichalso for sharing the evening with me. Congratulations.Now, Dayton itself. Ten years ago we ended the war.If you go back and read the press, that took place around November 21st andafterwards, you will be astonished. Without,with almost no exception people predictedthat we were partitioning Bosnia into two separate countries,which didn't happen, it is divided, and I'm not happy about that,and I'll get back in a moment to the issue, you willread that there will be heavy American casualties,our own sector defense, Bill Parry said that publicly,body bags were prepared at the Rammstein Air Baseat Frankfurt to receive the bodies, you will read thatit was the 36th peace cease-fire agreement and the first 35 had failed,you will read that 70 percent of the American publicin poll after poll opposed President Clinton's courageous decisionto send 20,000 American troops to Bosnia as partof a 60,000 troop NATO deployment because of courseeveryone expected casualties, you will read most distinguished peoplein American public life, including Henry Kissinger, who wasthen as now probably the most respected statesman saying,either we shouldn't be involved or it won't work,or the troops should be on the line dividing the Serband the Croat/Muslim parts of the country, which everyone thoughtwould be like the Korean demilitarized zone. Well, none of it happened.No Americans were killed, no NATO forces were killed,the 20,000 U.S. troops are down to 150 today,the 60,000 NATO troops are down to I think 2,000 or less,the demarcation line between the two parts of Bosnia is about the sameas going from Ohio to Pennsylvania, you don't slow down, there are no check points,there are still a lot of problems and I'll get to those in a moment,but the country is one country divided into two or threeadministrations, it is an administrative mess and there were plentyof problems at Dayton and I'll get back to how those can hopefullybe fixed in a minute, but the underlying point is that our goalwas to end a war, actually, that's a pretty good phrase,I think I might write a book called "End the War".Our goal was to end the war and by god,we did it with your help here at Dayton, and the war never resumed.The Congress voted 3 to 1, the House, the Newt Gingrich Republican Congress voted3 to 1 to oppose the Dayton Agreement, and I mention that becauseit's very relevant to the current context of what's going on inWashington right now. Our administration didn't accuse themof disloyalty or treason or aiding and abetting the enemy,we just fought publicly against that position, PresidentClinton used his commander-in-chief authority to deploy,we got UN support after the fact, with the support of friends like Wolfgang Ischinger,and we just went forward, and I don't, I don't appreciate the factthat people who disagree with an administration get attackedthe way they were in the last week by the administration whether you supported Iraq or not,it's just when Robert Livingston opposed his violent way, remember he wasthe man who succeeded Gingrich, we didn't accuse himof treason, we argued with him .We won people over.We took 120 members of the House of Representatives to Bosniaon trips to prove to them it mattered.We fought it out and we turned public opinionaround and we sustained the peace. Now, we're allvery proud of that, it was a successful agreement and it achieved our objectives,and Wolfgang Ischinger was an integral part of that, it wasn't easy to bea European at Dayton for those three weeks, it was very very frustrating,there was a British representative, a French representative, a German representative,Ambassador Ischinger, but there were also European Union representative,this former Swedish Prime Minister, and the relationship betweenthe E.U. senior person and the other three was complicated and confusing,but Wolfgang stayed the course, had his instructions from his government,carried them out beautifully under a tremendously difficult situation,and our friendship, which predated that, was even deepened here, and has continuedever since in many different guises. But at the end of that processwe moved from the agreement itself to its implementation.Now, in all the interviews I did today, therewere constant questions, is the agreement,what's wrong with the agreement, you did this,you did that, you divided the country, tooweak central government, so on, and I thinkI surprised every interviewer by agreeing with every negative criticism.I agree the agreement was deeply flawed. In 21 days, goingdown to the last hours of the last day, you couldn't get a perfect agreement.You just couldn't. You had to choose betweenan imperfect peace and a resumption of the war,and it came down to the last few hours.We went to sleep on the night of November 20th,this wonderful videotape says 20 days, butI must quibble it was 21 days, and on the 20th day,we were, we were at the wall, and around midnight,Izibegovich, the Bosnian president, rejected our final offer,which was 95 percent of what he wanted, and we wentto sleep expecting failure, and the next morning,but I sent three of my team, General Clark, who you will see tomorrow,Chris Hill, who is now the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs,and as we speak, in Beijing negotiating with the North Koreans,and he calls us once in a while and says,"We're going to do what we did in Dayton, lock 'em up,"and I say "You'll never lock the North Koreans up,"and one other person, I sent them over to Milosevic'sin the middle of the night and said "This is it,we're going to close down in the morning,"we told President Clinton, he supported us, we woke up in the morningand had a staff meeting. I said "You've done your best,"Warren Christopher said "You've done your best,"we wrote our failure statements, 800 journalists who had heard the rumorthat we had failed were camped outside, and as we were meeting,my wife Kati who is here with me today came running into the meeting and saidMilosevic is out in the parking lot where it was snowing and he needs to see youright away, and Milosevic came in and said,"O.K. I will make a compromise on the last unresolved issue,"which was status of a town called Birchko on the Croatian-Bosnian border,and Warren Christopher and I went over to see Izibegovich and said to him,"Milosevic is willing to give up his claim to Birchko andturn it over to us and we'll decide it in 12 months."And this is it, you know, we're going to go out, we're going to go publicin less than an hour. There was a long pause, Izibegovich was sitting in one ofthe rooms at the BOQs at Wright-Pat, and he had his Izibegovich,his foreign minister, and his Prime Minister, who was,you saw from the thing I quoted earlier, weren't talking to each other very much.And after a long pause, Izibegovich said, "It is not a just peace,"and then he paused and we just didn't know where he was going to go,and he said, "But my country needs peace."And just then I could see the foreign minister and the prime ministerwere about to jump and start arguing with him and so I said to Warren Christopher,"Let's get the hell out of here fast," and we shook his hand and said,"You've got a deal," we ran to the phone, we called President Clinton,and said "Go out and announce this thing before it falls apart."That's the last day here in Dayton, which we'll celebratethe 10th anniversary of on Monday. The point to this storyis that we knew it was an imperfect peace, but we ended the warand we got what we came for. But we left behind some unresolved problems.Now, in analyzing what happened next you must distinguishbetween the agreement and its implementation and many people don't.The number-one failure in the last ten years had nothingto do with what happened at Dayton, it was the failure to capturecapture Radovan Karadzic and Vlatko Mladic. That was authorizedby Dayton, and many other war criminals were captured,but for reasons that we can't analyze and no one fully understands,we failed to capture those two men, and Karadzic could have been picked upright after the Dayton Agreement when his green Mercedes Benzwas parked outsize his office in Pale easily, but the American commanding Admiral,yes we had an Admiral in a land command, but that's the way the militaryworks sometimes, simply refused to do it, and that act,which President Clinton later told me he considered an act of insubordinationallowed Karadzic to slip out from under our grasp when we had him,and now for 10 years he's been on the run, and he's probably,my guess is he's hiding in a monastery somewhere in the easternpart of Bosnia or in Montenegro, protected by paramilitary, ultra-Serb nationalist crooks.And, but that failure had nothing to do with Dayton,it was a failure of implementation, but there were mistakes in Dayton,we allowed three armies to exist in a single country,because NATO didn't want to integrate them.We allowed two separate police forces because this took placeat the time that the Congress had closed down the U.S. government,you may remember November 1995 was a traumatic month becausethe Gingrich Contract With America and the tax cuts and the fight over the budgetresulted in a shutdown of the U.S. government so we didn't have the moneyto pay for the police, and we got a bad deal on the police.The central government was too weak, we allowed three presidentsin the country, a Bosnian Muslim, a Bosnian Croat, and a Bosnian Serb.A country shouldn't have three ethnically-based presidents, we knew thatbut the people at Dayton wanted 9 presidents, and the Yugoslav model,and to get them down to three, as Wolfgang will remember,was a tremendous achievement, as my friend Zuzzhouwho was on the Croatian delegation, later became his country's foreign ministerwill remember, your president was a moderate, he only wanted 7 presidents,whereas Izibegovich wanted nine, right? I'll never forget it,so getting him down to three was an achievement, but it's not right,they should only have one president, we knew that we were creating a systemthat would not solve all the problems, and by the way,I need to underscore here a key point, when we say ethnic,which is a nice artful term you read in the payroll at the time,what we're really talking about is racism, it's just a fancy name for racism,racism which by the way is not based on any racial difference.There's no difference between Muslims, Croats, and Serbs,they went their different ways through the last 800 years in the Balkans.But they all intermarried; they all came from the same place,and so on, and now. For the last ten years, very little was done to fix those issues.A little bit under Clinton, not enough. And then for the last four years nothing at all,and then about five months ago, the new administration at the State Departmentin the second term made a very important change in policy,and one that I find very encouraging, the new Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice effectively reversed the policy of the last four years.Now, because she 's a very close to President Bush,and because she's very disciplined and loyal,if she were here tonight she'd say we didn't make any change at all,but of course, it is a major change.But she, she would say that it's no change while making the change,that's the essence of being a good political diplomat in Washington.The policy changed dramatically and she did something that Wolfgangand I and others in this room are all very pleased with, she put the newUndersecretary of State, Nick Burns, in charge of the policy.Burns had been at Dayton as Warren Christopher's spokesman.He had been Ambassador to Greece and to NATO,so he really knew the region, and he was put in charge of Balkan policy,and this combination has resulted in a dramatic change, soinstead of simply celebrating what happened here 10 years ago,as those of you who've been at the symposium out of the Hope Hotelknow today, there is an actual process now resumed after four years of total neglect.That process will culminate on Monday and Tuesdayin Washington when the Secretary of State will spend more timeon this issue than anyone has since Madeleine Albright left her job.Condoleezza Rice will give events, Nick Burns is working very hard on this,and one of the key negotiators on all this, Don Hayes,who's worked with me in Germany, at the United Nations, andin the State Department, and was the deputy of Paddy Ashdown,as Deputy High Representative in Sarajevo and is here with us tonight,is the real battering ram who is pushing hard for progress.So the military problem I mentioned earlier has already been resolved,there's military reform and a lot of integration, the police issue is movingforward, I'll leave it to Don and the Secretary of Stateand Nick Burns to work out the final details, but even if they fall shortof where I think they should go, at least they have re-engagedthe U.S. in the region after four years of nearly complete neglect.Had I been standing here a year ago, I would be very,very critical of the administration, not on political grounds but simply on policy grounds.But this is not a partisan political issue, the nation benefits,and not every foreign policy issue should be the subject of partisan debate.And now that the administration is re-engaged in the region, something that Ibelieve is essential for the national interest of the U.S. andfor U.S.-European relations, now that they're working closely againwith people like Wolfgang Ischinger, I am personally very pleased about it,and so we will see next week what comes out of the Secretary of Stateand Nick Burns and Don Hayes's efforts. Supported very heavily,I might add, and I would emphasize, by the European Union,but I want to leave you with this point: Not until the U.S. re-engaged,going back to what Ambassador Ischinger said about the United States role,not until the U.S. re-engaged in roughly May, April-Mayof this year, was any movement going on.I don't say this because I'm criticizing the Europeans,the way you often hear in Washington, this is just a fact of lifethat Wolfgang and I have talked about many, many times:the U.S. needs to be engaged in certain parts of the world whereit has a special role to play, not as a unilateral force,but as a partner taking a lead, and when the U.S. told the Europeansin the United Nations that we were going to re-engage in the Balkans,and by the way, I want to stress that Burns's job includes Kosovo,and what has to happen in Kosovo is going to be far, far more difficultthan what we're talking about today because the status of Kosovois completely unresolved and it's going to be a brutal negotiation,and the United Nations has appointed Monty Attasaari,the former Finnish President to negotiate, and the U.S. is about toappoint a senior negotiator to assist him, and that's going to be brutal,but in both cases, Bosnia and Kosovo, when we finally re-engage,everyone else started to move, and in this case the re-engagement wasn't unilateral,so the standard criticism of the Bush administration regarding Iraqand other parts of the world simply doesn't apply in this area anymore.And I think that's a very good thing, and I'm very pleased to see it, and theconference you're having here now is a perfect scene-setterbecause everything you're doing here through Don Hayes and Paddy Ashdown,and Wolfgang Ischinger who's without question the most popular ambassador in Washington,with (word undetermined) the best German ambassador in at least the last 40 years,I've known most of... (Audio cuts out)hank you again for this fantastic award,for something that really does exist in my mind,the spirit of Dayton, and I urge you to continue to keepthe special feeling that this wonderful small American city is,represents, Dayton, of course, is now a shorthand wordfor a certain kind of negotiation, but it also,to me, represents a certain unique quality about the American spiritat its very best, and in that, in that context, I thank you againfrom the bottom of my heart for what you've honoredme and Kati with this evening.Thank you.