BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Richard Holbrooke, where did you get the title of your book, "To End a War"?
Mr. RICHARD HOLBROOKE, AUTHOR, "TO END A WAR": Well, we h--we had a long argument with my publishers at Random House about this and--I don't know. We--they--their objection to the title was interesting because I came up with it a year ago. They had suggested "Precarious Peace," and I said, `That's not right. This is about a peace which is gonna work, but it's not fully established yet.' So then they said, `But, you know, if this book comes out and the wars resume, we're gonna look like fools.' I said, `It's not gonna happen.' It just--it just came to me. I--I h--I--I--it's an accurate description of what--what we did.
LAMB: What do people get in this book?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, the--this is the story of how American diplomacy and military power and presidential leadership finally ended this war in Bosnia. Belatedly and reluctantly we got pulled in, but once we came in, in the fall of 1995, it was decisive.
This isn't a book for Bosnia wonks. They'll--they'll buy it anyway. This is a book for anyone who cares about American power, American leadership and how, if we'd done it earlier, it would've been better, but how we finally did it. The core of the book, Brian, is the 14 weeks from August of '95 through the date and negotiations that ended the war. But there is an important section in advance of that describing how we got there, which was pretty sloppy. And then there are three chapters afterwards bringing the story right up to date, including the current crisis in Kosovo.
LAMB: And what was your actual title during that time?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, Random House suggested "Precarious Peace" and...
LAMB: No, I'm sorry. Your title, your personal...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you meant the book title. I was assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs. The--one of the regional assistant secretaryships, I was also responsible for NATO enlargement and a whole lot of other things. But increasingly, Bosnia was the monster that was consuming us all.
LAMB: And what years were you ambassador to Germany?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I went to Germany in the fall of '93 and came back in the fall of '94 on a truncated tour because of the Bosnia crisis.
LAMB: And what years were you a negotiator in Paris over the Vietnam situation?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, when I was a young man I worked for Lyndon Johnson at the Johnson White House in '66, I was 25 years old. And then I wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers, which we were promised would never see the light of day and obviously became world-famous for other reasons. And then when the negotiations with the Vietnamese--North Vietnamese started in the spring of 1968, 30 years ago at this time, Averell Harriman and Cyrus Vance, the negotiators, asked me to be a junior member of the team. And that was, for me, a
LAMB: Where did you grow up?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I'm the New Yorker, native New Yorker.
LAMB: The city?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I was born in New York, grew up in New York, moved to Scarsdale in the suburbs when I was a kid and went to Scarsdale High School and then on to Brown University.
LAMB: What did you study at Brown?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: History. Actually, I--I went there on a math-physics major and a National Merit Scholarship, but I realized I wasn't gonna be a nuclear physicist. I didn't have it, so I--I switched to history and then joined the foreign service right after graduating.
LAMB: But you talk about a trip that you made over to the Yugoslavian part of the world when you were about 19.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah. I hitchhiked across Yugoslavia and--when I was a sophomore in college, and I describe that because that was the only other time I'd been in the area, until the war started. And I went to Sarajevo as a 19-year-old and I went to this place in--where the footprints in the cement were placed where Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and started World War I. And I remember so vividly, Brian, that a translator explained to us that the inscription said, `Here, Gavrilo Princip struck the first blow for Serbian liberty.' And I thought, `What--what is all this? I'm--I'm a college student. We're studying history. Everyone knows that Princip started World War I. They're celebrating him as a nationalist.'
It's my first encounter with that kind of nationalism, and I always remembered that. And when I finally got back to Sarajevo 32 years later as a private citizen traveling for the International Rescue Committee on a refugee fact-finding trip, and the war was on and the city was under attack and I ran into John Burns, the great New York Times war correspondent and--who was a friend of mine from--from Asia. And I said, `John, could you show me these footprints?' And he laughed and said, `They've been blown up and removed by the Muslims.' And that was my reintroduction to Yugoslavia.
LAMB: You say in the book that you're a descendent of European--East European Jews.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah.
LAMB: What countries and when did the folks come over to the United States?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, my mother was born in--in Germany and grew up in Hamburg and left Hamburg in the spring of 1933. And she never went back to Germany, even though she traveled all over the world, until I became ambassador 61 years later. And then she came back. It was very traumatic for her. And the Germans treated her very well.
And my father was born in a part of the world which keeps shifting countries. Sometimes it's Poland, Belarus, Russia, the Soviet Union, but in that--in that area. I think today it would probably be in Belarus, but I'm not sure. And then he--my grandmother was a nurse with the czarist armies, and she started this westward trek, like so many other Russian emigres from the chaos of Bolshevism. And she went to Warsaw and Italy and Paris.
And finally, my parents separately ended up in New York in the '30s and they met at International House at Columbia University and is just before the war engulfed Europe. That's--it had nothing to do with them coming over together from the Old Country. It was a meeting of two refugee immigrants in New York.
LAMB: Can you remember when you first got interested in the foreign service?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Oh, precisely. I wa--I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up and I was--I was always interested in it. But I first heard about the foreign service from the father of one of my closest friends in high school, David Rusk, whose father had just become secretary of state and who thought this was a great and honorable profession. And Dean Rusk was a great figure in my life when I was a teen-ager. And so he always mentioned this and--but I worked for The New York Times two summers in a row out of college. I was the editor in chief of the Brown Daily Herald. And at the--and I applied for a job with The Times when I was a senior, but The Times didn't give me any immediate response, and I took the foreign service exam and I passed it. And they said, `Come on right in.' So one month after I graduated from Brown and thr--two months after I turned 21, I was in the foreign service, and 11 months later I was on my way to Vietnam.
LAMB: What did you do in Vietnam?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I was a--I was assigned to the provincial aid program in the lower Mekong Delta. I was very young, 22, 23 years old, in charge of the aid program, a very corrupt--very corrupt situation, quite a learning experience. I lived with the military, but I was not in the US military.
LAMB: There were two things in the book that you said that you once believed that you changed your mind on. I'm not sure I'm characterizing it right. You can explain it. You were against the bombing in North Vietnam...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Mm.
LAMB: ...but when it came time to need bombs over in Bosnia, you had changed your mind. Tell us a little bit about those two experiences.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, I wanna be very clear on this, Brian. I still think the bombing in North Vietnam was a mistake and the whole war in Vietnam was misconceived. What I said was that there was great irony in the fact that having been on the dovish side on Vietnam, having thought that what we were doing in Vietnam didn't make any sense, I found myself now leading the charge to use airpower in Bosnia. But I believed then and I believe now that you have to fit the situation to the circumstances and the method to the moment.
And in this situation in Bosnia, in the early 1990s, we were facing a type of aggression which, if left unchecked, would destroy Europe. It wasn't--it--it didn't have the complicated roots of Vietnam. I didn't buy this theory that ancient ethnic hatreds made it inevitable that--that as former Secretary of State Eagleburger said, you had to let them kill each other till they were exhausted. And he really said that publicly, and I just thought that was wrong.
And I felt that a very strong dose of military power would disperse these people. This wasn't the hardened Vietcong or the North Vietnamese. These were thugs, automobile mechanics and farmers and schoolteachers who had taken up weapons and were just slaughtering their neighbors, based on some kind of race hatred that had--had affected them. And it--and it could've been stopped much earlier and inst--we could have had the--a better deal than we got at Dayton earlier at less cost of lives if the West had stepped in in 1991-'92. That's why I advocated military power. And I recognized and I wrote a comment in the book, as you com--pointed out, about the irony of all this.
LAMB: By the way, when was Dayton?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Dayton was November 1st to November 21st, 1995.
LAMB: The second point that I wanted to bring up in here was at one point you say that you're a big fan of the UN's, but at this point, in this situation in Bosnia, you said, `I'm not--I don't wanna negotiate through the UN. I wanna go our way.' Can you explain that?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: The United Nations--I was brought up on the UN. When I was a kid in New York, growing up, my father took me down to the buildings that were rising on the East River and he said, `This is going to be the last, best hope of mankind.' And he was a medical adviser to one of the delegations at the UN, and I really believed in it and I still do. This made the failure of the early '90s all the more tragic to me.
I thought Boutros Boutros-Ghali was not doing the institution he headed justice, and I thought he was weakening it and making it vulnerable to attacks from its extremist critics. I thought the bureaucracy was out of control and the system had collapsed. And this was at a cost of $5 million a day. And hundreds and hundreds--indeed, thousands of UN peacemakers were being killed and wounded, and they didn't have the right to fight back. And my two trips out there as a private citien in '91 just enraged me about this UN failure. I think it's easier to be--to enjoy your hostility to the UN if one hates the UN, but I cared about the UN. I wanted to see the UN succeed. And its failure in Bosnia was a disgrace, both to itself and to the situation.
So, meanwhile, you had the domestic political situation in the United States, as you well know from your interviews. The Republicans were skewering the UN. They were threatening to cut off all funds. We were $1 billion in arrears in our payments and, I regret to say, still are. And it was clear to the whole administration, from President Clinton on down, that there was no chance that the UN could continue to play a serious role, that either the--the thing was either gonna collapse or the UN was gonna have to be replaced.
So it became clear, not just to me but to the president, to Vice President Gore, to Secretary of State Christopher, to Madeleine Albright, who was then UN ambassador--we all agreed that the UN--in order to save the UN, we had to take Bosnia away from the UN.
LAMB: How would you characterize, if you can, your personal style of diplomacy? What are some of the things that you always wanna do in your...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Low-key, quiet, modest, retiring, soft-spoken.
LAMB: How--it begs another questions, but how do you--how do you approach it, say, based on what you learned from others or your own--what's your own code?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, t--negotiations--I--I--in the book I say that n--that negotiating Bosnia was like a combination of mountain climbing and chess, but I would offer to you a different metaphor, which is not in the book, that negotiating is like jazz, you improvise around a theme. You know where you wanna go, but you're not sure how you're gonna get there. You may need to take a big detour, you may need to slow down, ac--speed up. Timing is critical.
And my negotiating technique, in this case, was designed to match the circumstances. I got a reputation in some quarters, through some r--newspaper accounts, of screaming or yelling or being a wild man. That really was not true. The yelling--the so-called yelling may have happened once or twice, but very rarely, and it was usually pretty deliberate because of the situation. But one needs to sit--to f--to--to match one's style to the situation. And, oh, I spent most of my career in Asia, as you know. And in Asia, you--you don't yell at Chinese or Koreans or Japanese. It would be un--unconscionable, unacceptable and unproductive.
When you're dealing with the people in the Balkans, you have to be very tough. And one also needs to remember in any negotiation that one--if one is negotiating at the head of a delegation, one is speaking not just for oneself but for the whole nation. And this is a very heavy responsibility. It can fill one with pride, but it also requires one to behave in a certain way.
LAMB: Your--you say your wife and your son by, I guess, a previous marriage were both somehow directly involved in the negotiating or in the writing of this book. Explain more about that.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, my son--my younger son, Anthony, was a refugee worker in Thailand for the--for the IRC, the same organization I had gone over for. And when Srebrenica fell and the worst war crime committed in Europe since World War II--and this was July of 1995--the president of the Refugees International refugee organization, Lionel Rosenblatt, who's the most brilliant refugee officer I know and whose picture is--is right there--yeah. He's the--he's the guy on the l--on the left there in the flak jacket and I'm on the right. And we are on the road to Sarajevo on New Year's Day. Chr--I mean, the day before New Year's 1991.
And Lionel Rosenblatt asked my son two and a half years later to fly from Bangkok to Bosnia to Tuzla to interview the refugees coming out of the--fleeing through the forests away from the Bosnian Serbs to safety in Tuzla. So while this terrible tragedy in--in Tuzla was taking pla--in Sara--in--in Srebrenica was taking place, Anthony was calling me up, telling me what he was hearing in these refugee accounts.
As for my wife, her name is Kati Marton. I think she's been on C-SPAN, of course, to discuss her own books. And we got married two months before the negotiations started. She is born in Budapest. Her parents are very noted journalists who had themselves been--been victims of Communism, jailed by the Hungarian Communists, covered the Budapest uprising with great courage. And Kati had written two books which were extremely important to me. There she is on the--on the left in a very dramatic picture.
That picture, I should explain, is taken at Andrews Air Force Base after we returned from our first tragic effort to reach Sarajevo where three of my four colleagues were killed. And that is as the caskets have just been unloaded from the C-130 into the hearses. And on--on the right is Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary. And you can see in the--the photo the strain on all our faces. That of--that--that news--that photograph appeared in the newspapers in August of 1995.
In--in--in any case, Kati--Kati wrote two books, one on Raoul Wallenberg and one on Count Bernadotte, each one of which celebrated the life and, I regret to say, the death of two great Swedes who had saved tens of thousands of refugees, Jews mainly, from Nazi. And to do it, they had met with the worst--worst people of Europe: Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Himmler.
And where Kati's books were particularly critical to us was as we prepared for what we knew might be meetings with the war criminals in Bosnia, Karadzic and Mladic, we had to decide whether or not to meet with them. And I was inspired by her books to realize that the thing to do is to meet with these terrible war criminals, knowing that it's all right to meet with them if you can save people who are still alive and it's not disrespectful of the dead.
If--if--if--if Wallenberg can meet with Eichmann and save hundreds of thousands of Jews, it seemed legitimate to me with Karadzic and Mladic, the two most-wanted indicted war criminals in the world today--they're still at large--in order to save people in Bosnia. So we did do that. And then Kati also flew out to Dayton during the negotiations and--and was very instrumental.
LAMB: By the way, how did you meet her and get married during all this?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I'd met her long before--long ago when she had another marriage. She was married to someone else. And when her--when that marriage ended and she was unattached, I was in Germany, but I always thought she was special. And--and so as soon as I heard about it, I called and said, `Let's get together.' And we got together and we've been together ever since. And I'm very lucky. I could not have gotten through this Dayton period without her support.
LAMB: You mentioned her books, and I noticed--I know you have a bibliography in the back, but I noticed, as I was reading, I kept writing down your reference to books, including a point when you were going into the negotiations where you were passing out, I think, a chapter from Jimmy Carter's book regarding Camp David...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: That's right.
LAMB: ...Bill Quandt's book...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Exactly.
LAMB: ...on another. What role--and I can, you know, even mention some of them--Robert Kaplan's "Balkan Ghosts," Harold Nicolson's "Peacemaking Nineteen Nineteen," you--you credit that all through the book. What role do books play in diplomacy?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, this is a very interesting subject. There--an extremely interesting book was written by Ernie May and Richard Neustadt called "Thinking in Time"--I don't know if you're familiar with it, Brian--where they make the charge that too many policymakers do not know enough about history. And I think that if one is involved in a negotiation like we were at Dayton, one should study as many earlier negotiations as possible to learn from them. And you're the first person I've talked to about this book who's picked up on my constant evocation of other books from Harold Nicolson to Jimmy Carter. But you're absolutely right. I--I think that--I don't see how one can do one's job, at least in the government, without a sense of who preceded them. And what happened at Camp David--indeed, what happened at Versailles in 1919, is directly relevant, and--and one learns from books.
LAMB: There's one here--and I--my French is not very good, and I'll get to the page that I wanted to ask you about because I--I think it--it was talking about a fellow--and I'm not I'll pronounce this right--it's Bernard-Henri Levy...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Levy.
LAMB: ...a--a French philosopher who had a book. What was the purpose of this one?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, first of all, we have to say that--that Levy is a philosopher-slash-rock 'n' roll star. I mean, this--France is a place where philosophers still are media people and he's a--he's a big name there. And he happened to show up in Paris at a rather critical time, and he kept a journal and he wrote about it. This was in August of 1995, right after our three colleagues had died on Mt. Igman: Bob Frasure, Joe Kruzel and--and Nelson Drew. And I know we'll discuss them in a minute.
And we arrived in Paris, having buried the three men at Arlington National Cemetery and having just met with President Clinton, reconstituted our team because three of my four colleagues had died in this terrible, terrible tragedy trying to get into Sarajevo. And the day we arrived in Paris to stay with Ambassador Pamela Harriman, she gave a dinner for us. The morning we arrived, the Bosnian Serbs shelled the marketplace in Sarajevo, killed 38 people. This set off a fran--frantic flurry, which we describe in detail in the book, of efforts to get NATO bombing started. One of the most critical passages in all of American foreign policy since--since the end of the Cold War was this day.
And that night she gave a dinner party for us while we waited to see if NATO and Washington would start the bombing, which we had strongly recommended. And we were jumping up and down, getting on--up and down from the ta--table all night long on the phone to Washington, to Brussels, to Zagreb, to Sarajevo. And Levy was there and he witnessed it, and he wrote about it in an extremely witty and funny way, about Ambassador Harriman with her secret smile and her impeccable manners, this lunatic performance of--of this Ambassador Holbrooke, who he'd never seen before, who kept jumping up and down like making St. Vitus dance, this general named Wesley Clark who was dressed like he was a character in "Full Metal Jacket," the--the Stanley Kubrick movie. Clark today is, by the way, the NATO commander. And he describes us in a very witty way, and I thought, since it was one of the very few times when somebody saw some action and he didn't know what we were doing, it was--it was funny, so I just included it.
LAMB: How do you like being called by him a `bulldozer diplomat'?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I have to treat it as a compliment, since he concludes--the last sentence of that excerpt, I think, is the tipoff where he says that, `History will record that in these few hours it will be seen that--that...'
LAMB: Page 100.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Page--yeah, I'm looking for the beginning of this chapter, where...
LAMB: Oh, OK.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: ...where--yes, here's Bernard-Henri Levy. This is how he concludes the section: `The time will come when those few hours'--he's referring to the party he observed--`when those few hours will say much about war and peace in Bosnia, the role that the United States played in the outcome, the real importance of France and perhaps the world order that will reflect it.' And, you know, I like Levy and he couldn't figure out what was going on. He said it was the rudest behavior he'd ever seen in his life, was what General Clark and I did that day. Bu--but then afterwards he realized that what we were doing was trying to get the bombing started.
LAMB: Speaking of books, I--it also occurred to me as I was reading it, `What if this man, Richard Holbrooke, wants to become at some future time secretary of state or, you know, any other job in government at all?' Do you worry about that when you write a book like this, when you're revealing your techniques?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: It--it--that really was not part of my consideration. I should state, for your viewers who don't understand the process, that a book like this must be cleared and approved by the US government. This book was cleared by the State Department and the White House, and I made changes at their request. So on the national security issue, it's not my decision, it's a collective decision of the government.
On the issue you raise, you know, I mean, I don't think that--I don't think there's any relationship. I'm trying to tell a story for people so that they can understand how their country works in the post-Cold War era. And also, having read many books on diplomacy and thought none of them conveyed how it really felt, I wanted to give a feeling for--for what it's like to be inside a negotiation, with all these physical events going on, not--not just dry diplomatic positions,
which are usually fakes anyway.
LAMB: Back to the--you know, the page of--I wrote on all the books. Of all those books, you--you--you quote throughout, you know, little quotes at the beginning of chapters, Harold Nicolson's "Peacemaking Nineteen Nineteen."
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah.
LAMB: What's special about that book?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, to me, Nicolson--I read Nicolson's book on Versailles before--during the Paris peace talks on Vietnam in 1968, and he wrote in that that he wished somebody had kept a diary of the Congress of Vienna for him. And so I thought, `Gosh, I'd like to do that.' And so when the opportunity arose, some of my friends, Les Gelb, Professor Fred Stern of Columbia, my agent Mort Janklow, all said, `Hey, you've gotta try to write a book.' And I thought, `Well, I'll try, but I'll try to make it different. I'll try to make it living, breathing history, including some of the humorous anecdotes and not just--not just dry diplomatic positions.'
LAMB: One humorous anecdote, if you call it that--and it's way out of context from what we're talking about--is a man named Milosevic. First of all, who is he?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Milo--Radovan--excuse me--Slobodan Milosevic is the president of Yugoslavia. He is the man most people hold most accountable for starting the war and he was essential to end it. And he remains the head of Yugoslavia today. There he is on the left at Dayton. We're having drinks. And at that particular moment, we're discussing the release of an American journalist, David Rohde, who later won the Pulitzer Prize for the Christian Science Monitor. And I was telling Milosevic, as that picture's taken, that we're not gonna move forward in the negotiations unless this journalist is released. And he's saying to me, `You're not gonna release--you're--you're gonna hold up a world negotiation over one American journalist who--who entered our country illegally?' And I said, `That the way our system works.' And he couldn't believe it. But Milosevic has been often described as both the arsonist and the firefighter in Bosnia, as well as now, more recently, in Kosovo. And he is a--he's a very complicated man, very difficult.
LAMB: But what I was getting at, the humorous story is that you talk about going to a--a sports bar in Dayton when he arrives and...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Oh, Packe's all-sports bar.
LAMB: Packe's all-sports bar--and that he was the only one that wanted to go out the night that he arrived?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah, he's a night owl. He likes late nights. Izetbegovic is a devout Muslim and older, and Tudjman likes to sit around playing cards with his people. And Milosevic went to Packe's all-sports bar. This was a bar at the conference center at the Wright-Patterson Air Base. There's, unfortunately, no picture of it in the book, but you have th--that's--that's Milosevic sitting there at a very critical moment in the negotiations. General Clark is above him, hunched over the map, and...
LAMB: That's you at the back?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, that's me on the...
LAMB: With the glasses, yeah.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: That's me. Yeah, that's me with--that's General Clark. That is General Kerrick with his back to us, now the number three man on the White House National Security Council. There's Milosevic. He's staring at a high-tech computer right off the screen. That is Rudy Perina, a very senior diplomat, who was with us. And we're trying to figure out a route from Sarajevo to the isolated eastern enclave of Gorazde, right along that area, and we've got this high-tech computer screen.
LAMB: But the st--the small story was that he--you know, that you--you just tell about the--the waitress--waitress, Vicky (pronounced wick-ee).
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Ah, waitress Vicky (pronounced wick-ee). Yeah. I hope they're listening in Dayton. She is a legend now. Milosevic asked her what her name was, and Milosevic speaks excellent English, but he does the V and W transposition and so she became waitress Vicky (pronounced wick-ee) and is to this day. And when I went back out to Dayton for the anniversary celebrations, I was proudly served by waitress Vicky (pronounced wick-ee) herself, and I hope she's listening.
The--can--can I make one other b--b--Dayton-related story? The story that I think is most amusing, perhaps, to me, in the whole book is the one with the French representative of--at Dayton, Jacques Bleau. Wi--the--can I mention this, Brian, this story?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: The--you know, Dayton was extremely complicated. There were 800 people there and all these countries, and it was much more complicated than any comparable negotiation that anyone could think of. And although, as you commented on, I studied all the previous books, we didn't have much precedent to go by. So--well, there was a lot of security out there and the French, British, Germans and Russians were all there. The co-chairman of the conference were the British--were the US, the European Union, Carl Bildt, and the Russian.
The French representative got extremely upset during the conference because, early on in the conference, the security dogs gave him a rather close inspection to s--as--as he passed through the gates. And he got extremely upset at this and he refused to attend some very important meetings that we were having, and he called me up and said--said that he will--I--he said, (with French accent) `I will not be sniffed,' because the dogs had sniffed him. And he said it was not just him who had been insulted, it had been all of France. And from that point on, he was--everyone always joked about how he had said he will not be sniffed. But things like that happen under tension. People were very, very--th--the pressure was immense at Dayton and people showed the strain from time to time.
LAMB: Well, while you're on it, just for a moment, the French come up in your book as being different throughout the book almost from every other delegation all the time. You even use Dava Sobel's excerpt from her book "Longitude"...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: You like that?
LAMB: ...you know, start of Chapter 19. Matter of fact, you might wanna read it. It's on page--Chapter 19 is on page about 314, 315. It's just--and I wanna g--go--it's--read it, if you don't mind, and--and then I'll ask you about the French.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, fir--first, let me say that this quote has nothing to do with Bosnia, but it seemed to me to illustrate a core issue, which is that the French always take a core position, what--what they would call for raison d'etat, that they want to assert themselves. Now I have the greatest respect for the French. They were indispensable to success in Bosnia, and this book makes clear how important President Chirac was. But at the same time, they have their own style. And this incident, which is over 100 years old, seemed to me to prove the point, and it's from Dava Sobel's book on--called "Longitude."
"In 1884 at the International Meridian Conference in Washington, representatives from 26 nations voted to make the d--Greenwich meridian the prime meridian of the world. This decision did not sit well with the French, however, who continued to recognize their own Paris Observatory meridian, a little more than 2 degrees east of Greenwich, as the starting point for another 27 years, until 1911. Even then, the French hesitated to refer directly to Greenwich mean time, preferring the locution, `Paris mean time recar--retarded by nine minutes, 21 seconds.'"
And, you know, it shows you that when people's--in Washington, people are always angry at the French. I don't feel that way. I think one has to accept the French for what they are, a great culture but one that doesn't wanna recognize that the rest of the world might run on Greenwich mean time.
LAMB: I wanna ask you two things, and I want you to talk about the three colleagues that you lost there in a moment. But before we do that, so that people who haven't paid close attention to the s--whole story over there and all the details--and before I show a map, I do wanna quote from your book. You ha--you've quoted Brent Scowcroft, who used to work for George Bush.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Mm-hmm, President Bush's national security adviser.
LAMB: You said that--and this is a quote--"Bush would say to me once a week," Brent Scowcroft saying this, "`Tell me again what this is all about,'" which I read that after I'd gone through your book and all these little details. Did you find, as you went through this, at any point, people so confused about this they just threw up their hand and said, `I don't understand it'?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Oh, well, sure. It is incredibly confusing. It--most wars only have two sides. Bosnia had three. And...
LAMB: Here is--is one of the maps you have in the book. W--t--try to walk through a little bit...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah.
LAMB: ...so we can better understand what you were up against.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Let's--let's start first by looking at the area around it. There is--there--there is Austria, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Italy and the Adriatic. In the middle of this is what used to be Yugoslavia, now broken up into four different areas: Slovenia, which seceded first in 1991 after a brief war; Croatia, which broke away at the end of '91 and had a brutal war with Serbia over its dissolution; the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia here on the n--north of Greece, which broke away without a war--they're the only part of Yugoslavia that became independent without a war--and Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the war which this book is primarily about took place, although there's a--there's a lot here also about Croatia. Now here is Yugoslavia divided into Serbia and Montenegro, and down here is Kosovo, the area of the current headlines, which is a province within Serbia.
Now when Bosni--when each of these areas broke away, the Serbs said, `Not on our watch,' and they went to war to prevent it, claiming, by the way, the American Civil War as one of their precedents. In each case, they were really trying to protect the Serb minorities in the other countries--the Serb minority here in Croatia and along this area c--called Eastern Slovenia, and the Serb minority which lived in thisf Bosnia, on the outer s--part.
And in each case, the international community recognized the breakaway republics, first Slovenia, then Croatia, then Bosnia-Herzegovina and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. The wars raged on with 300,000 killed and finally they gave up, but not before this--the whole area had been shattered. And now, in the post-Dayton period, we're trying to rebuild it and we're ma--we're making very real progress throughout the region with two exceptions. Serbia itself is having a crackdown on the media, which is unconscionable and is creating its own problems. Montenegro is in the process of--of having its own arguments with Serbia right now. And Kosovo, the area that's been most in the headlines in the last few months, is ha--is having the beginning of its own war. So while Croatia's over and Bosnia's over, we still aren't done with this area.
That's a pretty long explanation and I apologize, but it is genuinely confusing and I can understand, Brian, why Americans would say, `I don't care about this area.' But it does matter.
LAMB: And how many people live in all that area you were just talking about?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Whew. Oh, boy. I think about 17 million.
LAMB: And how much money, since you've been involved in this, have Americans spent?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I don't know the figure because a lot of the money flowed through the international community, through the UN. But the current cost of the military deployments is about $1 1/2 billion a year. That's a lot of money, but well worth it to keep the peace in the region, because if you don't keep the peace, you end up paying more money just for refugees and reconstruction. And furthermore--and I want to stress this--no Americans, no NATO troops have been wounded or killed.
LAMB: Now in the--this is about the 472nd BOOKNOTES in the last nine years. There's never been a book that I can remember in which an author had a dedication where they showed pictures. And here, as you open up your book, are three pictures. Who are these three men and why did you do this?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: The book is dedicated, as it says on that page, to three cherished colleagues who did not reach Dayton: Joe Kruzel, upper right, Bob Frasure, upper left, and Nelson Drew at the bottom. Bob Frasure was my deputy, Joe Kruzel was a senior assi--deputy assistant secretary at the Pentagon and Colonel Drew was at the White House. They died in an armored personnel carrier that was directly behind my vehicle as we tried to get into Sarajevo the first time. I was in a HumVee in front of them with General Clark.
We had no business being on that road, Brian. It was the most dangerous road in Europe and many people had died on it. It ran through enemy country, `Indian country,' as Bob Frasure called it, and--but we couldn't get in any other way. Sarajevo was under attack. Sarajevo was under mortar and artillery attack. And so we set out--after protesting to Milosevic that this was unconscionable that we had to go in this way, we set out by helicopter, landed high on the mountain above Sarajevo, and started in over this very dangerous narrow road.
And we--we came around a corner and there was a--French tanks were pulled up against the other side of the wall, and we went around the outside of them. And when--and when our car got to the last French tank, somebody jumped out and started waving his hands. And we got out of our car, which was armored, and he said to me in French, `The--the car behind you is missing, gone; it fell over.' And we looked behind us and the--and the armored personnel carrier wasn't there.
General Clark and I ran back and we--we started down the mountain to look for the missing car and explosions went off everywhere of small arms fire and machine guns, two very loud explosions. And people started yelling, `Mines,' and we were pulled back up on the road. And finally, after a terrible time with gunfire everywhere and--and rain coming down and--we began to r--to realize how serious it was. And so they died, and we dedicated the rest of the mission to them.
LAMB: What impact did that have on the whole mission?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: You know, these w--these were very important, very senior government officials, the--the senior anonymous midlevels of the government that make it work. And they were well-known to everyone, including President Clinton, who came back from Jackson Hole, where he was vacationing, to attend their memorial service. And their death pulled--pulled everyone in Washington together, focused us, the first Americans to die over there. And we dedicated the rest of the mission to them.
And--and when we were in the middle of Dayton without any publicity at all--the press never knew about this--we brought out the three widows and the six children, and they spent a day out there and--and we had a very emotional meeting in the main conference room in which I said to the children, `You know, we wouldn't be here today if it weren't for your fathers.'
And last month--two months ago, Bob Frasure's wife and I wen--and the children went to Estonia. Frasure had been our first ambassador to Estonia. And the Estonians, who loved Ambassador Frasure, have established a memorial in his service, a lecture series, and--and I gave the speech in honor of Ambassador Frasure. And I think they will be long remembered in Washington.
LAMB: By the way, what are you doing now?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I am a vice chairman at a New York investment bank, Credit Suisse First Boston.
LAMB: What do you think of doing that compared to all your foreign service work?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, I'm--I'm very happy. I'm living in the city that I grew up in and I love. I'm with my wife. My--both my sons are there. They're both in television now as producers, one for Fox and one for CBS. I l--Credit Suisse First Boston is very supportive of me and I enjoy the investment banking, and I continue to do things for the US government on an ad hoc basis with the support of my colleagues at Credit Suisse First Boston.
LAMB: I wanted to ask you a couple of little questions, just things that I wrote down while reading it, and get you to explain a little bit about it. You say in foreign service `brilliant' means `arrogant.'
Mr. HOLBROOKE: You've read this book very carefully. Sometimes brilliant is a code word for `brilliant but difficult.' And I wasn't--I was referring to one of my most esteemed colleagues, who is currently our ambassador in Germany and was my succes--deputy and successor, and who--whose career was beginning to languish, unright--wrongly so. And he was brilliant, and the foreign service--it's a great institution and I--and I have nothing but affection for it and pride in my past association with it, but sometimes it tends to reward conventional caution rather than some degree of creativity.
LAMB: You say that Kofi Annan, in the United States' eyes, went up and Boutros Boutros-Ghali went down.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Oh, well, it was very lucky for us in August of 1995 that Kofi Annan was acting secretary-general of the UN and--otherwise, I don't know if we could've gotten the NATO bombing started, and that bombing was essential. And Kofi Annan really won American support for the job he now holds as secretary-general in that critical week. And again, many other things are happening besides Bosnia in this book--US-European relations, the future of the UN, Russia, which we had a whole separate negotiation with the Russians. The Russians have 2,000 troops under the--under an American commander in Bosnia. NATO enlargement could not have taken place if we hadn't succeeded in Bosnia. So a lot of things, including the Kofi Annan story, come to--come to a head in this book.
LAMB: You say that you asked Ron Brown to make the trip to Bosnia.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Yeah.
LAMB: He wouldn't have been there without you.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, I--I don't know about that. I'm just recounting the facts. I had the highest respect for Ron Brown. I thought he was a terrific person and a great commerce secretary, and we'd worked very closely together when I was in Germany. In my farewell call on him in February of 1996, before I left the government, I said to him that I felt that economic reconstruction was the key to the future in Bosnia and would he be willing to consider taking the kind of trade mission he'd taken elsewhere? And being the kind of person he was, he said, `If this is what the president and the secretary of state want, I'll do it immediately.' And so he took off on his tragic last trip.
A--and I would note, also, Brian, I've said several times in this discussion today that no American military have been killed in Bosnia or even wunded, and we can be proud of that, but I would also point out that over 30 Americans have died there and they're all civilians, all serving their country in civilian capacities.
LAMB: Let me ask you about the press. At one point, you di--discuss
in the book how television in Yugoslavia created the hatred. What's the point there?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: There is a long-standing theory that the war was the product of ancient hatreds. I don't agree with that. I believe that the war was caused by demagogues who gained control of the media. In carrying out the highest principles of people like Goebbles, they turned the media into a vehicle for propaganda, if you will the anti-C-SPAN, the exact opposite. You just present events and let people judge. These people take footage and they write fail--false history. It's as though the Ku Klux Klan and the most extreme elements were in control of the American media and constantly bom--bombarding young--young people with a completely polluted and perverted view of history, until finally you create en--enraged people who wanna go out and kill their neighbors.
It wasn't until October of last year, after 16 months, that NATO finally took down the Bosnian-Serb control of those transmitters and stopped this racial hatred that they were spewing out. And only then did the process begin to accelerate. So I consider control of the media one of the most critical variables in the whole region and there are huge lessons in this for the United States. In the post-Cold War era, the freedo--freedom of information is incredibly important, incredibly. And--and I talk often about C-SPAN over there as an example of what should exist in the world and--unbiased media where people get information and--and can--can process it themselves.
LAMB: There was a point in August of '92 where you had your own video recorder, your own camera. Wh--where was that and what were you doing?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: CBS said, `Take a camera with you on this private mission and see if you can get some footage,' but--`and we'll use it on a s--on a program with Ed Bradley called "Street Stories,"' but I was a total failure. They--nothing--nothing got on the air. It didn't work.
LAMB: All right. What impact did the media have on this country getting involved in Bosnia?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, as you know from the book, I am a big fan of the American and international coverage in Bosnia, starting with Christiane Amanpour of CNN, who was extraordinarily good, John Burns and Roger Cohn of The New York Times, John Pomfret of The Washington Post and many others--Roy Gutman of Newsday. These men and women, at great risk to themselves, brought the reality of Bosnia home to the world and prevented it from getting swept under the table. And I was always amused that the Pentagon and other parts of Washington in the early '90s were so angry at--at journalists like John Burns and Christiane Amanpour because these journalists were covering the truth and the--and Washington was trying to obscure it.
LAMB: You said there was a point where the president was giving you a little bit of a needle because you had a positive editorial written about you in The Washington Post, in d--do you have to worry...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: He was just kidding me.
LAMB: I know, but do you have to...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: He was just teasing.
LAMB: ...worry about that, though, in...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: No, no. He was--he wa--he was saying, `How did you get that editorial? I never get that.' This picture that--this is the lower picture you're showing now, Brian--this picture refers to the incident I mentioned earlier. This picture's in the back room at the chapel in Arlington Cemetery, and it's all here in this picture. The president has just finished addressing a heartbroken crowd of people, who were--who were remembering Bob Frasure, Joe Kruzel and Nelson Drew. And we're having a meeting, and the drama in this picture is that we're not sitting in the Cabinet room in one of these trite arrangements. This is random, and everyone is in this picture.
And let me just go round the room quickly. A couple of people are just out of sight. There's the president, and going clockwise, rather--yeah--I don't know, clockwise--Tony Lake next to him, national security adviser; General Wes Clark, then my military assistant, now NATO commander; this is Leon Feurth, right under your hand there, and if you move your--your right hand up a bit, he--he's in the shadow--there he is, that's Leon Feurth, Vice President Gore's national security adviser; half hidden, Leon Panetta, the chief of staff; Secretary of State Christopher; Chris Hill, now ambassador to Macedonia and the person in charge of the Kosovo negotiations now, then my--the man who had just joined the team; General Kerrick, now President Clinton's deputy national security adviser, then the NSC adviser; John Deutch, the CIA director; myself; Secretary of Defense Perry; Jim Pardeu, then a member of our negotiating team, now in charge of a major part of the program in Bosnia; Madeleine Albright, then at the UN, now, of course, secretary of state; and General Shalikashvili, chairman of the JCS. And Sandy Berger and Strobe Talbott, to their great regret, as they've told me, are just out of the picture.
Now what--the reason I like this picture so much, Brian, is that very rarely does a photograph capture much of the drama of a government meeting 'cause we're sitting around tables. But here you have an informal moment of incredible tension and drama. And--and they're all there in that picture, the team that--that--that, ultimately, ended the war in Bosnia.
LAMB: Tony Lake was in the picture and you describe in the book your friendship with Tony Lake, but also, it seemed that, from time to time, you were at odds.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, in the...
LAMB: Who is he, first of all?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: In the course--Tony Lake was President Bu--Clinton's national security adviser. In the course of a intense bureaucratic process, you d--agree and disagree with people on a regular basis. Tony was important because he was in a critical position. And he is in the book a lot because of that and because he and I had been friends and colleagues for a very long time. And we disagreed sometimes, we agreed other times. He was instrumental in making sure that the talks took place in the United States at Dayton, and in that respect, I--his support was critical. But on other issues, we had some disagreements.
LAMB: Who is this man standing with you in this picture, and why does he s--almost sound like an American when we see him on television?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: This is Mohammed Sacirbey, now the United Nations ambassador to Bosnia, then the foreign minister. We're in Paris. You can see Ambassador Pamela Harriman standing between us there and Roberts Owen over here on the right, our legal adviser, a brilliant lawyer who was an indispensable part of our team. Sacirbey was then foreign minister. He was very aggressive. He was brought up in the United States, worked, I think, for Smith Barney, if I'm not mistaken, before becoming ambassador. And he was a major figure at the talks.
LAMB: Who other--who--who else did you meet that you found to be interesting as human beings in this whole process?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: As human beings? Gosh, you know, you--you really see people under tension, you see how they perform. I think that the most interesting p--I think President Chirac was one of the most interesting people that I dealt with.
LAMB: And you do say at one point over at Blair House he shed a tear about this whole thing.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: When he c--he, at his own initiative, gave medals to the fallen three Americans and he pinned them on his--on the widows, and I saw the tear running down his cheek. I was very impressed with President Chirac. I know that he takes a lot of criticism in France, but he kept pushing us and pushing us to come to terms.
LAMB: What about these two men? Who are they?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: The man on the left is Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, who was the co-chairman of the negotiating team at Dayton, and the European Union representative. This is a--President Izetbegovic, the tenacious, absolutely determined, one might say ruthless, leader of the Bosnian Muslims, whose sheer tenacity kept the Bosnians alive. If it were not for m--Izetbegovic, I don't think Bosnia would've survived. And he's remarkable.
Could we show the picture on the other side? This one, yeah. This picture is taken on the morning of October--of November 21st. This is Warren Christopher with his back to the camera, watching President Clinton making the announcement on television from the Rose Garden. I'm there. And this is Tom Domlin, the--Secretary Christopher's chief of staff, who's an indispensable part of the process, a br--a brilliant part of the team.
LAMB: How important are friendships like--you mentioned quite often your friendship with Brooke Shearer and her husband, Mr. Talbott...
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Strobe, yeah.
LAMB: ...Strobe Talbott, the deputy over at the State Department.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Well, they're very important. You know, you come to the government with prior relationships. Sometimes they're forged in iron and they hold under tension; other times, they crack apart. You--sometimes you find a person you weren't close to that you become an ally of. I'll tell y--I'll say one thing, Brian, you do not know how people are from dinner tables as well as you find out about them when you're with them under the extraordinary tension that this kind of situation provokes.
LAMB: Is there any other government job you want?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: I've had a great career, and if I get another shot at public service in the next 20 years, I'd be grateful, and if I don't, I'll--I'll be honored to have done this.
LAMB: What's the hardest part of writing this book?
Mr. HOLBROOKE: My wife saying, `Get it over with so we can get on with the rest of our lives.' And wait--and after you've done it, waiting to see if people react. The initial reaction of the book has been so positive, and I cannot tell you what a pleasure that is. I also can tell you that I got a--a--a letter from President Clinton, a handwritten letter of congratulations on the book, and that meant an enormous amount to me.
LAMB: This is the cover of the book, and the book--and our author has been Richard Holbrooke. The title of this book is "To End A War." And we thank you very much, sir.
Mr. HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Brian.
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