- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2001

How humanitarian

Alexander M. Haig Jr. is urging President Bush to avoid the mistakes of the Clinton administration when committing troops to stop genocide, restore democracy or other humanitarian goals.

"Over the past eight years, Bill Clinton sent American forces into harm's way, more than any president before him, all on behalf of what has come to be labeled humanitarian intervention," Mr. Haig told the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

"The roll call of the most significant is familiar: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo," added the retired general, who served as secretary of state under President Reagan.

(Mr. Clinton committed troops in 40 conflicts, according to figures compiled by Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. Mr. Reagan deployed troops 16 times, and President George Bush dispatched the military 14 times, he said.)

Mr. Haig said humanitarian intervention today has come to mean the use of "military force to rescue people at risk from political causes, such as the actions of dictators, even if the American national interest does not appear to be meaningfully at stake."

He urged the adoption of a policy that would "restore strategic balance to our foreign policy."

Mr. Haig called for the Bush administration to "focus on prevention at the earliest stage [of a crisis] when creative diplomacy can work best."

He said the United States must understand the bigger, strategic implications of committing troops in "small wars."

Watch for the "larger, more important, mission of deterrence the prevention of big wars so that we do not fritter away our strength," he said.

"If we must commit, then do so to make a decisive difference with attainable objectives and a way to measure them so that we can leave," Mr. Haig added.

He said that humanitarian intervention has a "minor but honorable" role to play.

"The American people will not support humanitarian intervention as a formula to impose American values on the rest of the world, but they will also not support a realpolitik that does nothing about genocide."

No escort needed

Retired State Department officials will be pleased to know that they are no longer required to be escorted inside the State Department headquarters at Foggy Bottom, recently renamed the Harry S Truman Building.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has dropped the requirement that all visitors be escorted.

Madeleine K. Albright, secretary of state under President Clinton, imposed the policy after a spate of security breaches that included the discovery of a Russian listening device and the theft of documents and a laptop computer with classified data.

Our State Department reporter Ben Barber tells us that former department employees now can visit the basement, first and second floors unescorted after they present their retirement credentials to the security desk in the main lobby.

Those are the same privileges given to State Department reporters.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, who meets tomorrow with Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Tomorrow

• Peruvian Justice Minister Diego Garcia-Sayan, who addresses invited guests at the Inter-American Dialogue on the investigation into corruption under the previous government.

Wednesday

• Eduardo Fernandez, president of the Iberoamerican Popular Foundation of Spain, and Aristides Calvani, a former member of the Venezuelan Congress from the Christian Democratic Party. They discuss the political developments in Venezuela with invited guests of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

Thursday

• Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, who meets with Mr. Powell.

Friday

• British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who meets President Bush.

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