President Bill Clinton’s involvement in the Balkans began in 1995 when he approved "Operation Deliberate Force," an air campaign conducted by NATO to undermine the military capabilities of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) during the Bosnia War.
The Bosnian War, remembered for being the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II, took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995 and was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia. More than 100,000 people were killed while 2.2 million people were displaced.
In 1999, First Lady Hillary Clinton admitted that she phoned Bill from Africa. “I urged him to bomb,” she boasted, despite the Balkans posing no credible threat to U.S. security.
Declassified documents of 2,346 pages show that it was difficult for Bill Clinton to persuade U.S. allies to intervene. The conflict was complex, involving various territorial disputes between different ethnic groups in the Balkans.
But Clinton argued Bosnia lay at the "heart of Europe," spreading fears among U.S. allies that the conflict would spread to the rest of continent.
Man at Anti-NATO protest | Photo: Serbianna Blog
The Clinton administration's Bosnian intervention resulted in the “Dayton Accord,” an agreement meant to create peace by dividing the state of Bosnia Herzegovina into the mainly Bosnian/Croat Muslim Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the Serbian, mainly Christian, Republika Srpska.
While the agreement brought peace after three and half years of fighting, it created a dysfunctional state controlled by foreign capital, which suffered from one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and regular outbursts of nationalist tension.
Four years later, in 1999, President Clinton decided to launch a second war on Yugoslavia under the pretense of stopping Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic's "ethnic cleansing" of Albanians in the province of Kosovo.
Despite the United Nations later ruling the alleged “genocide” never took place, Clinton strongly supported the Albanians and their Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in their fight against Yugoslav forces.
During the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia, thousands of protesters took to the streets of Belgrade. | Photo: Strategic Culture Website
The KLA was named a terrorist organization in 1998, responsible for killing thousands of Serbs in Kosovo before the war even started.
Yet Clinton had Madeline Albright invite the KLA for training sessions to the U.S. As top Clinton administration official James Foley said: “(W)e believe that we have a lot of advice and a lot of help that we can provide to them if they become precisely the kind of political actor we would like to see them become.”
Aside from Clinton supporting a dubious group such as the KLA, over a 78-day period starting on March 24 his NATO campaign saw 2,300 missiles and 14,000 bombs falling on Serbian targets.
The targets included civilian buildings such as monasteries, factories, television stations, hospitals and schools.The intervention, which was never approved by the UN, devastated Yugoslavia, killed thousands of civilians and was strongly opposed by both Russia and China.
Albright later admitted that the demands the U.S. presented Serbia with prior to the bombing were designed “to set the bar too high” for Belgrade and Moscow to accept.
“They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get,” Albright said at the time.
The end of the war did not mean the end of the Clinton administration's involvement in the area. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton said Kosovo is a personal matter for her.
“For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue, it is personal,” Clinton stressed.
Hillary has met the President-Elect of the Republic of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, multiple times.
Thaci, who was branded "dangerous" and a leader of organized crime by the Council of Europe, has been accused of involvement in assassinations, drug smuggling and kidnappings during the Kosovo War, according to former U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte.
Hillary Clinton meeting Hashim Thaci in Washington | Photo: State Department
Swiss Senator Dick Marty has also accused Thaci of harvesting human organs from Kosovo minorities including Serbs and Roma for profit as part of the KLA.
But he is the most powerful political figure in Kosovo and has received the full support of the Clinton family.
While many Kosovo Albanians celebrate the Clintons and have raised a statue of Bill as well as a possessing a dedicated clothing store to Hillary, celebrating her style, the Serb population in Kosovo and Serbia remembers the couple for their illegal bombing campaign and their support for the KLA, which caused thousands of deaths and the looting and burning of homes.