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20 Years Ago: Bill Clinton Bombs Serbia, Killing Hundreds of Civilians


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Twenty years ago, President Clinton commenced bombing Serbia for no good reason. Up to 1500 Serb civilians were killed by NATO bombing in one of the biggest BS morality plays of the modern era. Clinton sold the bombing as a humanitarian mission, but the resulting carnage resulted in the takeover of Kosovo by a vicious clique that was later condemned for murdering Serbs and selling their kidneys, livers, and other body parts.

But Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo; here is a statue of him erected in the capitol, Pristina. It would have been a more accurate representation if Clinton was shown standing on the corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the US bombing campaign.

The US bombing of Serbia was a crime and an outrage from the start. Editors were chary of articles bashing the bombing campaign so much of my venting occurred in my journal:

April 7, 1999 Much of the media and most of the American public are evaluating Clinton’s Serbian policy based on the pictures of the bomb damage — rather than by asking whether there is any coherent purpose or justification for bombing. The ultimate triumph of photo opportunities…. What a travesty and national disgrace for this country.

April 17 My bottom line on the Kosovo conflict: I hate holy wars. And this is a holy war for American good deeds – or for America’s saintly self-image? Sen. John McCain said the war is necessary to “uphold American values.” Make me barf! Just another … Hitler-of-the-month attack..

May 13 This damn Serbian war… is a symbol of all that is wrong with the righteous approach to the world… and to problems within this nation.

I had a chapter on the Serbian bombing campaign titled “Moralizing with Cluster Bombs” in Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), which sufficed to spur at least one or two reviewers to attack the book. Norman Provizer, the director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, scoffed in the Denver Rocky Mountain News: “Bovard chastises Clinton for an illegal, undeclared war in Kosovo without ever bothering to mention that, during the entire run of American history, there have been but four official declarations of war by Congress.”

As the chaotic situation in post-war Kosovo became stark, it was easier to work in jibes against the debacle. In an Octoboer 2002 USA Today article (“Moral High Ground Not Won on Battlefield“) bashing the Bush administration’s push for war against Iraq, I pointed out: “A desire to spread freedom does not automatically confer a license to kill…. Operation Allied Force in 1999 bombed Belgrade, Yugoslavia, into submission purportedly to liberate Kosovo. Though Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic raised the white flag, ethnic cleansing continued – with the minority Serbs being slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground in the same way the Serbs previously oppressed the ethnic Albanians.”

In a 2011 review for The American Conservative, I scoffed:
After NATO planes killed hundreds if not thousands of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians, Bill Clinton could pirouette as a savior. Once the bombing ended, many of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo were slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground. NATO’s 'peace' produced a quarter-million Serbian, Jewish, and Gypsy refugees. At least the Serbs were not murdering people for their body parts, as the Council of Europe recently accused the Kosovo Liberation Army of doing to Serb prisoners in recent years. ('When the transplant surgeons were confirmed to be in position and ready to operate, the [Serbian] captives were … summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic,' where their kidneys were harvested for sale.) Perhaps even worse, Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia set a precedent for 'humanitarian' warring that was invoked by supporters of Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq.

Reprinted with permission from JimBovard.com.
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