Dole measure would lift Bosnian arms embargo

January 05, 1995|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- Bob Dole took up his role as Senate majority leader yesterday with a two-pronged attack on the Clinton administration's foreign policy, introducing legislation to lift the arms embargo in Bosnia and to give Congress more control over the scope and financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The move represented the first foreign policy confrontation between the new Republican majority in Congress and the administration. And it underscored the intention of the Republican-dominated Congress in general -- and Mr. Dole in particular -- to put the administration on the defensive and try to wrest control of at least part of the foreign policy agenda.

Mr. Dole said the Senate also would question the legality of giving economic aid to North Korea as part of a far-reaching nuclear agreement and examine closely the cost of helping Haiti.

Under one bill proposed by Mr. Dole, the United States would cease to honor the U.N. arms embargo against Bosnia either at the request of the Bosnian government or at the end of a four-month cease-fire May 1.

The bill largely repeated the language of a similar Dole initiative that passed the Senate in August, but it complicates administration efforts to assure the allies that it will not unilaterally lift the arms embargo.

Although the administration stopped enforcing the embargo, it has opposed lifting it on its own, arguing that such a move would set a precedent for other countries to ignore U.N. resolutions and would widen the war.

State Department spokesman Michael McCurry said: "If you take on the unilateral responsibility of lifting the arms embargo, the United States would also unilaterally take on the consequences of that action, and that would include, in our view, as a moral responsibility the arming, training and equipping of the Bosnian Muslims who would have to defend themselves.

"How that could be achieved without massive use of U.S. force unilaterally, and very, very likely, the introduction of U.S. ground troops, is a question that someone, I hope, will pose to Senator Dole," Mr. McCurry said.

Another consequence, he said, would be to legitimize Iran's shipment of weapons to the Muslims in Bosnia.

Mr. Dole also proposed a "Post-Cold War Powers Act" that would redesign and restrict the financing of U.N. peacekeeping operations and place strict limits on allowing U.S. troops to serve under U.N. command.

It would require the administration to identify specific sources of financing before it creates or extends a peacekeeping mission, and under a complicated formula, would allow the Pentagon to charge the United Nations for much of the equipment and services it now provides for free.

The bill would also set a maximum of 25 percent for the U.S. share of the total U.N. peacekeeping budget, down from the current share of 31 percent. That goal is shared by the administration.

Mr. Dole's proposal would eliminate all but two sections of the War Powers Resolution.

As the Vietnam War was winding down in 1973, Congress enacted the law in an effort to reassert its authority while not compromising a president's need to act quickly. The law requires a president to notify Congress in a timely fashion when American troops are being sent abroad with a strong probability that they will engage in combat.

The troops must be withdrawn within 90 days unless Congress explicitly approves their mission.

But the law has proved largely ineffective because of presidential resistance and also because Congress usually is willing to allow the White House to assume the political risk of sending troops abroad.

In recent practice, presidents have consulted with Congress about sending troops abroad but have rejected the part of the law that requires them to bring troops home unless they are given congressional approval.

Mr. Dole's proposal would bring the law into line with that practice.

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