Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel joined President Clinton on Wednesday to support the deployment of U.S. peacekeeping troops to Bosnia.
Wiesel, who had long urged that world to stop the atrocities in Bosnia, called the peacekeeping roll “an act of morality” that “will be remembered in history.”
“It is with a great sense of pride and pleasure that I came to support your decision,” Wiesel said after meeting with Clinton the Oval Office. “I believe it is right, I believe it is honorable.”
Two years ago at the opening of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Wiesel made an impassioned plea to Clinton to help put an end to the massacre in the former Yugoslavia.
“Something, anything must be done to stop the bloodshed there,” Wiesel said at the dedication, addressing Clinton directly. “It will not stop unless we stop it.”
He recalled these words at a news conference with Clinton after their Oval Office meeting Wednesday. His words came as Congress began debate over whether to support the mission.
The first of 20,000 American troops began arriving in Bosnia this week to enforce the Balkan peace agreement.
As Clinton prepared to depart for Paris on Wednesday to witness the signing of the accord, Wiesel praised the president’s leadership in foreign affairs.
“We in the United States represent a certain moral aspect of history,” Wiesel said. “A great nation owes its greatness not only to its military power, but also to its moral consciousness, awareness.
“What would future generations say about us, all of us here in this land, if we do nothing? After all, people were dying, people were killing each other, day after day. They stopped, thanks to your leadership.”
Clinton called Wiesel a “passionate witness to humanity’s capacity for the worst and a powerful example of humanity’s capacity for the best.”
He thanked Wiesel for “being a conscience of this terrible conflict for the last four years.”