WASHINGTON — Missouri Rep. Pat Danner argued Wednesday that ethnic cleansing and genocide are not satisfactory excuses for U.S. involvement in the Balkans, because the United States has ignored similar atrocities in other parts of the world.
“Where were we with regards to the Sudan, where over 2 million people were killed?” she said. “Or Tibet, where over a million were killed? Or the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, where over 1 million were killed?”
Mrs. Danner’s questions were posed to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a hearing by the House International Relations Committee.
Mrs. Albright condemned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for his “violent campaign of repression” that has killed thousands and caused more than half a million ethnic Albanians to flee Kosovo.
“No country in NATO is willing to stand by and accept … the expulsion of an entire ethnic community from its home,” the secretary said.
A Democrat, Mrs. Danner has vehemently opposed the administration’s position on the Balkans.
“I do not support our involvement in Kosovo,” she said in an interview. “It’s not like Desert Storm, where we had a clear national interest, since our country is dependent on oil from that region. No one has told me what our vital American interest is in Kosovo. If we’re there because of ethnic cleansing and genocide, then we should be everywhere.”
Mrs. Albright told the committee that preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing are in the national interest “at a certain level.” She said the goals of U.S. and NATO involvement in the Balkans are to get the Serb forces out of Kosovo, enable all refugees to return to their homes and create an international military presence to ensure the people are protected.
But Mrs. Danner said achieving these goals would only come at a great cost to the American people, both in dollars and in lives.
“I believe we are headed toward another Vietnam — and that is frightening to me,” she said.