Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Use of Troops Debated U.S. Drafting Rules to Define Policy on Missions with U.N

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Use of Troops Debated U.S. Drafting Rules to Define Policy on Missions with U.N

Article excerpt

AFTER POLICY debacles in Somalia and Haiti, President Bill Clinton's administration is revising its commitment to international peacekeeping by limiting the circumstances in which U.S. troops could be sent into combat.

Congress has already forced limits on the American commitment in Somalia. Unsure of support for other potential multilateral operations, administration officials have delayed issuing a policy to guide the sending of U.S. troops abroad under the U.N. banner.

The experience in Somalia made White House officials realize they had held too few discussions with Congress "before, during and after" various stages of that military involvement, one source said. As a result, congressional support for the operation quickly collapsed after the U.S. casualty count there escalated last month.

National security adviser Anthony Lake has begun to spend what aides describe as an unusually large chunk of time consulting with Congress, in hopes of coming up with rules that would win approval, administration sources said. Congressional staffers have been told to expect a new statement of policy early next year.

At the heart of the policy debate is a presidential review directive known as PRD-13, which was drafted for Clinton's signature in August. The directive identified the United Nations as the prime peacekeeping vehicle and laid out a framework for placing U.S. troops under U.N. command. Such multilateral operations were viewed as a means of saving Washington money and spreading the attendant political and military risks.

But senior administration officials now regard their earlier attempt to frame PRD-13 as too broadly worded and are trying to move from a generalized commitment to a more detailed statement that would distinguish among a wide range of possible U.N. missions, a senior State Department official said. This "harder look," as the official put it, responds in part to Pentagon reluctance to take part in U.N. peacekeeping at all.

Defense Secretary Les Aspin telephoned Lake on Oct. 26 to urge that PRD-13 be revised, an administration official said. Aspin suggested that senior policymakers "go back to the drawing board with it, send it to the deputies' committee" for redrafting by lesser officials, the source said. …

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