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Office of the Press Secretary ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 24, 1999


The Oval Office

8:01 P. M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, today our Armed Forces joined our NATO allies in air strikes against Serbian forces responsible for the brutality in Kosovo. We have acted with resolve for several reasons.

We act to protect thousands of innocent people in Kosovo from a mounting military offensive. We act to prevent a wider war; to diffuse a powder keg at the heart of Europe that has exploded twice before in this century with catastrophic results. And we act to stand united with our allies for peace. By acting now we are upholding our values, protecting our interests and advancing the cause of peace.

Tonight I want to speak to you about the tragedy in Kosovo and why it matters to America that we work with our allies to end it. First, let me explain what it is we are responding to. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, in the middle of southeastern Europe, about 160 miles east of Italy. That's less than the distance between Washington and New York, and only about 70 miles north of Greece. Its people are mostly ethnic Albanian and mostly Muslim.

In 1989, Serbia's leader, Slobadan Milosevic, the same leader who started the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, and moved against Slovenia in the last decade, stripped Kosovo of the constitutional autonomy its people enjoyed; thus denying them their right to speak their language, run their schools, shape their daily lives. For years, Kosovars struggled peacefully to get their rights back. When President Milosevic sent his troops and police to crush them, the struggle grew violent.

Last fall our diplomacy, backed by the threat of force from our NATO Alliance, stopped the fighting for a while, and rescued tens of thousands of people from freezing and starvation in the hills where they had fled to save their lives. And last month, with our allies and Russia, we proposed a peace agreement to end the fighting for good. The Kosovar leaders signed that agreement last week. Even though it does not give them all they want, even though their people were still being savaged, they saw that a just peace is better than a long and unwinnable war.

The Serbian leaders, on the other hand, refused even to discuss key elements of the peace agreement. As the Kosovars were saying "yes" to peace, Serbia stationed 40, 000 troops in and around Kosovo in preparation for a major offensive -- and in clear violation of the commitments they had made.

Now, they've started moving from village to village, shelling civilians and torching their houses. We've seen innocent people taken from their homes, forced to kneel in the dirt and sprayed with bullets; Kosovar men dragged from their families, fathers and sons together, lined up and shot in cold blood. This is not war in the traditional sense. It is an attack by tanks and artillery on a largely defenseless people, whose leaders already have agreed to peace.

Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative. It is also important to America's national interest. Take a look at this map. Kosovo is a small place, but it sits on a major fault line between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, at the meeting place of Islam and both the Western and Orthodox branches of Christianity. To the south are our allies, Greece and Turkey; to the north, our new democratic allies in Central Europe. And all around Kosovo there are other small countries, struggling with their own economic and political challenges -- countries that could be overwhelmed by a large, new wave of refugees from Kosovo. All the ingredients for a major war are there: ancient grievances, struggling democracies, and in the center of it all a dictator in Serbia who has done nothing since the Cold War ended but start new wars and pour gasoline on the flames of ethnic and religious division.

Sarajevo, the capital of neighboring Bosnia, is where World War I began. World War II and the Holocaust engulfed this region. In both wars Europe was slow to recognize the dangers, and the United States waited even longer to enter the conflicts. Just imagine if leaders back then had acted wisely and early enough, how many lives could have been saved, how many Americans would not have had to die.

We learned some of the same lessons in Bosnia just a few years ago. The world did not act early enough to stop that war, either. And let's not forget what happened -- innocent people herded into concentration camps, children gunned down by snipers on their way to school, soccer fields and parks turned into cemeteries; a quarter of a million people killed, not because of anything they have done, but because of who they were. Two million Bosnians became refugees. This was genocide in the heart of Europe -- not in 1945, but in 1995. Not in some grainy newsreel from our parents' and grandparents' time, but in our own time, testing our humanity and our resolve.

At the time, many people believed nothing could be done to end the bloodshed in Bosnia. They said, well, that's just the way those people in the Balkans are. But when we and our allies joined with courageous Bosnians to stand up to the aggressors, we helped to end the war. We learned that in the Balkans, inaction in the face of brutality simply invites more brutality. But firmness can stop armies and save lives. We must apply that lesson in Kosovo before what happened in Bosnia happens there, too.

Over the last few months we have done everything we possibly could to solve this problem peacefully. Secretary Albright has worked tirelessly for a negotiated agreement. Mr. Milosevic has refused.

On Sunday I sent Ambassador Dick Holbrooke to Serbia to make clear to him again, on behalf of the United States and our NATO allies, that he must honor his own commitments and stop his repression, or face military action. Again, he refused.

Today, we and our 18 NATO allies agreed to do what we said we would do, what we must do to restore the peace. Our mission is clear: to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's purpose so that the Serbian leaders understand the imperative of reversing course. To deter an even bloodier offensive against innocent civilians in Kosovo and, if necessary, to seriously damage the Serbian military's capacity to harm the people of Kosovo. In short, if President Milosevic will not make peace, we will limit his ability to make war.

Now, I want to be clear with you, there are risks in this military action -- risks to our pilots and the people on the ground. Serbia's air defenses are strong. It could decide to intensify its assault on Kosovo, or to seek to harm us or our allies elsewhere. If it does, we will deliver a forceful response.

Hopefully, Mr. Milosevic will realize his present course is self-destructive and unsustainable. If he decides to accept the peace agreement and demilitarize Kosovo, NATO has agreed to help to implement it with a peace-keeping force. If NATO is invited to do so, our troops should take part in that mission to keep the peace. But I do not intend to put our troops in Kosovo to fight a war.

Do our interests in Kosovo justify the dangers to our Armed Forces? I've thought long and hard about that question. I am convinced that the dangers of acting are far outweighed by the dangers of not acting -- dangers to defenseless people and to our national interests. If we and our allies were to allow this war to continue with no response, President Milosevic would read our hesitation as a license to kill. There would be many more massacres, tens of thousands more refugees, more victims crying out for revenge.

Right now our firmness is the only hope the people of Kosovo have to be able to live in their own country without having to fear for their own lives. Remember: We asked them to accept peace, and they did. We asked them to promise to lay down their arms, and they agreed. We pledged that we, the United States and the other 18 nations of NATO, would stick by them if they did the right thing. We cannot let them down now.

Imagine what would happen if we and our allies instead decided just to look the other way, as these people were massacred on NATO's doorstep. That would discredit NATO, the cornerstone on which our security has rested for 50 years now.

We must also remember that this is a conflict with no natural national boundaries. Let me ask you to look again at a map. The red dots are towns the Serbs have attacked. The arrows show the movement of refugees -- north, east and south. Already, this movement is threatening the young democracy in Macedonia, which has its own Albanian minority and a Turkish minority. Already, Serbian forces have made forays into Albania from which Kosovars have drawn support. Albania is a Greek minority. Let a fire burn here in this area and the flames will spread. Eventually, key U. S. allies could be drawn into a wider conflict, a war we would be forced to confront later -- only at far greater risk and greater cost.

I have a responsibility as President to deal with problems such as this before they do permanent harm to our national interests. America has a responsibility to stand with our allies when they are trying to save innocent lives and preserve peace, freedom and stability in Europe. That is what we are doing in Kosovo.

If we've learned anything from the century drawing to a close, it is that if America is going to be prosperous and secure, we need a Europe that is prosperous, secure undivided and free. We need a Europe that is coming together, not falling apart; a Europe that shares our values and shares the burdens of leadership. That is the foundation on which the security of our children will depend.

That is why I have supported the political and economic unification of Europe. That is why we brought Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO, and redefined its missions, and reached out to Russia and Ukraine for new partnerships.

Now, what are the challenges to that vision of a peaceful, secure, united, stable Europe? The challenge of strengthening a partnership with a democratic Russia, that, despite our disagreements, is a constructive partner in the work of building peace. The challenge of resolving the tension between Greece and Turkey and building bridges with the Islamic world. And, finally, the challenge of ending instability in the Balkans so that these bitter ethnic problems in Europe are resolved the force of argument, not the force of arms; so that future generations of Americans do not have to cross the Atlantic to fight another terrible war.

It is this challenge that we and our allies are facing in Kosovo. That is why we have acted now -- because we care about saving innocent lives; because we have an interest in avoiding an even crueler and costlier war; and because our children need and deserve a peaceful, stable, free Europe.

Our thoughts and prayers tonight must be with the men and women of our Armed Forces who are undertaking this mission for the sake of our values and our children's future. May God bless them and may God bless America.

END 8:15 P. ESTa


ext of a Wednesday afternoon statement by President Clinton, as transcribed by the Federal News Service:

Good afternoon.

United States forces, acting with our NATO allies, have commenced airstrikes against Serbian military targets in the former Yugoslavia. I will address the nation more fully tonight on why this action is necessary, but I wanted to say a few words now.

We and our NATO allies have taken this action only after extensive and repeated efforts to obtain a peaceful solution to the crisis in Kosovo. But President Milosevic, who over the past decade started the terrible wars against Croatia and Bosnia, has again chosen aggression over peace. He has violated the commitments that he, himself, made last fall to stop the brutal repression in Kosovo. He has rejected the balanced and fair peace accords that our allies and partners, including Russia, proposed last month, a peace agreement that Kosovo&aposs ethnic Albanians courageously accepted. Instead, his forces have intensified their attacks, burning down Kosovar Albanian villages and murdering civilians.

As I speak, more Serb forces are moving into Kosovo, and more people are fleeing their homes -- 60,000 in just the last five weeks, a quarter of a million altogether. Many have headed toward neighboring countries. Kosovo&aposs crisis now is full-blown. And if we do not act, clearly it will get even worse. Only firmness now can prevent greater catastrophe later.

Our strikes have three objectives. First, to demonstrate the seriousness of NATO&aposs opposition to aggression and its support for peace. Second, to deter President Milosevic from continuing and escalating his attacks on helpless civilians by imposing a price for those attacks. And third, if necessary, to damage Serbia&aposs capacity to wage war against Kosovo in the future by seriously diminishing its military capabilities.

As I have repeatedly said to the American people, this action is not risk-free. It carries risks. And I ask for the prayers of all Americans for our men and women in uniform in the area. However, I have concluded that the dangers of acting now are clearly outweighed by the risks of failing to act: The risks that many more innocent people will die or be driven from their homes by the tens of thousands the risks that the conflict will involve and destabilize neighboring nations.

It will clearly be much more costly and dangerous to stop later than this effort to prevent it from going further now.

At the end of the 20th century, after two world wars and a cold war, we and our allies have a chance to leave our children a Europe that is free, peaceful and stable. But we must, we must, act now to do that because if the Balkans once again become a place of brutal killing and massive refugee flights, it will be impossible to achieve.

With our allies, we used diplomacy and force to end the war in Bosnia. Now trouble next door in Kosovo puts the region&aposs people at risk again. Our NATO allies unanimously support this action. The United States must stand with them and stand against ethnic violence and atrocity. Our alliance is united.

And I am particularly grateful for the support we have received from members of Congress from both parties. As we go forward, I will remain in close contact with Congress -- I have spoken with all the leaders today -- and in contact with our friends and allies around the world. And I will have more to say about all of this tonight.

Thank you.


Remarks by President Clinton and Prime Minister Kostov of Bulgaria in Joint Press Statements


Council of Ministers Building
Sofia, Bulgaria

PRIME MINISTER KOSTOV: I have just asked the President to say a few words before he goes out of the Council of Ministers he was kind to respond, and I thank him for that.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, I want to say again how pleased and honored I am to be in Bulgaria and how strongly I support and admire the political, economic and military reforms that the government has undertaken and how grateful I am for the support that Europe and the United States received during the recent difficulties in Kosovo.

I think it is very important for the United States to support Bulgaria's aspirations for political, economic and military integration into the West, and to support the Stability Pact and the economic and political revitalization of all of Southeastern Europe.

I would like to make one other point, which is that I am especially grateful for Bulgaria's policy and history of tolerance and cooperation among different groups of people within this country. If that had been the policy of Serbia in these last 10 years, we would be living in a very different and better time.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: No, that did not come up. But we talked generally about the importance of doing things that would be economically beneficial to Bulgaria. I would remind you, my Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Daley, was here just a few weeks ago for an economic conference. And we are moving ahead with a whole set of plans, which I hope will be highly beneficial to Bulgaria economically. But we did not discuss the specific question you asked.


Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, Commander Pouliot. I am grateful to you and to Veterans of Foreign Wars for your support of America's efforts in Kosovo.

General Chilcoat, Secretary Albright, Secretary Cohen, Secretary West, National Security Advisor Berger, Deputy Secretary Gober, General Shelton and the Joint Chiefs, and to the members of the military and members of the VFW who are here -- I'd also like to thank Congressman Engel and Congressman Quinn for coming to be with us today -- I am especially honored to be here with our veterans who have struggled for freedom in World War II and in the half-century since. Your service inspires us today, as we work with our allies to reverse the systematic campaign of terror and to bring peace and freedom to Kosovo. To honor your sacrifices and fulfill the vision of a peaceful Europe, for which so many of the VFW members risked your lives, NATO's mission, as the Commander said, must succeed.

My meetings last week in Europe with Kosovar refugees, with allied leaders, with Americans in uniform, strengthened my conviction that we will succeed. With just 7 months left in the 20th century, Kosovo is a crucial test: Can we strengthen a global community grounded in cooperation and tolerance, rooted in common humanity? Or will repression and brutality, rooted in ethnic, racial, and religious hatreds dominate the agenda for the new century and the new millennium?

The World War II veterans here fought in Europe and in the Pacific to prevent the world from being dominated by tyrants who use racial and religious hatred to strengthen their grip and to justify mass killing.

President Roosevelt said in his final inaugural address: "We have learned that we cannot live alone. We cannot live alone at peace. We have learned that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community."

The sacrifices of American and allied troops helped to end a nightmare, rescue freedom, and lay the groundwork for the modern world that has benefited all of us. In the long Cold War years, our troops stood for freedom against communism until the Berlin Wall fell and the Iron Curtain collapsed.

Now, the nations of central Europe are free democracies. We've welcomed new members to NATO and formed security partnerships with many other countries all across Europe's east, including Russia and Ukraine. Both the European Union and NATO have pledged to continue to embrace new members.

Some have questioned the need for continuing our security partnership with Europe at the end of the Cold War. But in this age of growing international interdependence, America needs a strong and peaceful Europe more than ever as our partner for freedom and for economic progress and our partner against terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and instability.

The promise of a Europe undivided, democratic, and at peace is at long last within reach. But we all know it is threatened by the ethnic and religious turmoil in southeastern Europe, where most leaders are freely elected, and committed to cooperation, both within and among their neighbors.

Unfortunately, for more than 10 years now, President Milosevic has pursued a different course for Serbia, and for much of the rest of the former Yugoslavia. Since the late 1980s, he has acquired, retained, and sought to expand his power, by inciting religious and ethnic hatred in the cause of greater Serbia by demonizing and dehumanizing people, especially the Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims, whose history, culture, and very presence in the former Republic of Yugoslavia impede that vision of a greater Serbia.

He unleashed wars in Bosnia and Croatia, creating 2 million refugees and leaving a quarter of a million people dead. A decade ago, he stripped Kosovo of its constitutional self-government and began harassing and oppressing its people. He has also rejected brave calls among his own Serb people for greater liberty. Today, he uses repression and censorship at home to stifle dissent and to conceal what he is doing in Kosovo.

Though his ethnic cleansing is not the same as the ethnic extermination of the Holocaust, the two are related -- vicious, premeditated, systematic oppression fueled by religious and ethnic hatred. This campaign to drive the Kosovars from their land and to, indeed, erase their very identity is an affront to humanity and an attack not only on a people, but on the dignity of all people.

Even now, Mr. Milosevic is being investigated by the International War Crimes Tribunal for alleged war crimes, including mass killing and ethnic cleansing. Until recently, 1.7 million ethnic Albanians -- about the population of our state of Nebraska -- lived in Kosovo among a total population of 2 million, the others being Serbs.

The Kosovar Albanians are farmers and factory workers, lawyers and doctors, mothers, fathers, school children. They have worked to build better lives under increasingly difficult circumstances. Today, most of them are in camps in Albania, Macedonia, and elsewhere -- nearly 900,000 refugees -- some searching desperately for lost family members. Or they are trapped within Kosovo itself, perhaps 600,000 more of them, lacking shelter, short of food, afraid to go home. Or they are buried in mass graves dug by their executioners.

I know we see these pictures of the refugees on television every night and most people would like another story. But we must not get "refugee fatigue." We must not forget the real victims of this tragedy. We must give them aid and hope. And we in the United States must make sure -- must -- make sure their stories are told.

A Kosovar farmer told how Serb tanks drove into his village. Police lined up all the men, about 100 of them, by a stream and opened fire. The farmer was hit by a bullet in the shoulder. The weight of falling bodies all around him pulled him into the stream. The only way he could stay alive was to pretend to be dead. From a camp in Albania, he said, "My daughter tells me, 'Father, sleep. Why don't you sleep?' But I can't. All those dead bodies on top of mine."

Another refugee told of trying to return to his village in Kosovo's capital, Pristina. "On my way," he said, "I met one of my relatives. He told me not to go back because there were snipers on the balconies. Minutes after I left, the man was killed -- I found him. Back in Pristina no one could go out, because of the Serb policemen in the streets. It was terrible to see our children, they were so hungry. Finally, I tried to go shopping. Four armed men jumped out and said, 'We're going to kill you if you don't get out of here.' My daughters were crying day and night. We were hearing stories about rape. They begged me, 'Please get us out of here.' So we joined thousands of people going through the streets at night toward the train station. In the train wagons, police were tearing up passports, taking money, taking jewelry."

Another refugee reported, "The Serbs surrounded us. They killed four children because their families did not have money to give to the police. They killed them with knives, not guns."

Another recalled, "The police came early in the morning. They executed almost a hundred people. They killed them all, women and children. They set a fire and threw the bodies in."

A pregnant woman watched Serb forces shoot her brother in the stomach. She said, "My father asked for someone to help this boy, but the answer he got was a beating. The Serbs told my brother to put his hands up, and then they shot him 10 times. I saw this. I saw my brother die."

Serb forces, their faces often concealed by masks, as they were before in Bosnia, have rounded up Kosovar women and repeatedly raped them. They have said to children, go into the woods and die of hunger.

Last week in Germany, I met with a couple dozen of these refugees, and I asked them all, in turn, to speak about their experience. A young man -- I'd say 15 or 16 years old -- stood up and struggled to talk. Finally, he just sat down and said, "Kosovo, I can't talk about Kosovo."

Nine of every 10 Kosovar Albanians now has been driven from their homes thousands have been murdered at least 100,000 are missing many young men have been led away in front of their families over 500 cities, towns, and villages have been torched. All this has been carried out, you must understand, according to a plan carefully designed months earlier in Belgrade. Serb officials pre-positioned forces, tanks, and fuel and mapped out the sequence of attack -- what the soldiers were going to do what the paramilitary people were going to do what the police were going to do.

Town after town has seen the same brutal procedures -- Serb forces taking valuables and identity papers, seizing or executing civilians, destroying property records, bulldozing and burning homes, mocking the fleeing.

We and our allies, with Russia, have worked hard for a just peace. Just last fall, Mr. Milosevic agreed under pressure to halt a previous assault on Kosovo, and hundreds of thousands of Kosovars were able to return home. But soon, he broke his commitment and renewed violence.

In February and March, again we pressed for peace, and the Kosovar Albanian leaders accepted a comprehensive plan, including the disarming of their insurgent forces, though it did not give them all they wanted. But instead of joining the peace, Mr. Milosevic, having already massed some 40,000 troops in and around Kosovo, unleashed his forces to intensify their atrocities and complete his brutal scheme.

Now, from the outset of this conflict, we and our allies have been very clear about what Belgrade must do to end it. The central imperative is this: The Kosovars must be able to return home and live in safety. For this to happen, the Serb forces must leave partial withdrawals can only mean continued civil wars with the Kosovar insurgence.

There must also be an international security force with NATO at its core. Without that force, after all they've been through, the Kosovars simply won't go home. Their requirements are neither arbitrary nor overreaching. These things we have said are simply what is necessary to make peace work.

There are those who say Europe and its North American allies have no business intervening in the ethnic conflicts of the Balkans. They are the inevitable result, these conflicts, according to some, of centuries-old animosity which were unleashed by the end of the Cold War restraints in Yugoslavia and elsewhere. I, myself, have been guilty of saying that on an occasion or two, and I regret it now more than I can say. For I have spent a great deal of time in these last 6 years reading the real history of the Balkans. And the truth is that a lot of what passes for common wisdom in this area is a gross oversimplification and misreading of history.

The truth is that for centuries these people have lived together in the Balkans and southeastern Europe with greater or lesser degree of tension, but often without anything approaching the intolerable conditions and conflicts that exist today. And we do no favors to ourselves or to the rest of the world when we justify looking away from this kind of slaughter by oversimplifying and conveniently, in our own way, demonizing the whole Balkans by saying that these people are simply incapable of civilized behavior with one another.

Second, there is -- people say, okay, maybe it's not inevitable, but look, there are a lot of ethnic problems in the world. Russia has dealt with Chechnya, and you've got Abkhazia and Ossetia on the borders of Russia. And you've got all these ethnic problems everywhere, and religious problems. That's what the Middle East is about. You've got Northern Ireland. You've got the horrible, horrible genocide in Rwanda. You've got the war, now, between Eritrea and Ethiopia. They say, "Oh, we've got all these problems, and, therefore, why do you care about this?"

I say to them, there is a huge difference between people who can't resolve their problems peacefully and fight about them and people who resort to systematic ethnic cleansing and slaughter of people because of their religious or ethnic background. There is a difference. There is a difference.

And that is the difference that NATO -- that our allies have tried to recognize and act on. I believe that is what we saw in Bosnia and Kosovo. I think the only thing we have seen that really rivals that -- rooted in ethnic or religious destruction -- in this decade is what happened in Rwanda. And I regret very much that the world community was not organized and able to act quickly there as well.

Bringing the Kosovars home is a moral issue, but it is a very practical, strategic issue. In a world where the future will be threatened by the growth of terrorist groups the easy spread of weapons of mass destruction the use of technology including the Internet, for people to learn how to make bombs and wreck countries, this is also a significant security issue. Particularly because of Kosovo's location, it is just as much a security issue for us as ending the war in Bosnia was.

Though we are working hard with the international community to sustain them, a million or more permanent Kosovar refugees could destabilize Albania, Macedonia -- the wider region could become a fertile ground for radicalism and vengeance that would consume southeastern Europe. And if Europe were overwhelmed with that, you know we would have to then come in and help them. Far better for us all to work together, to be firm, to be resolute, to be determined to resolve this now.

If the European community and its American and Canadian allies were to turn away from and therefore reward ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, all we would do is create for ourselves an environment where this sort of practice was sanctioned by other people who found it convenient to build their own political power and therefore we would be creating a world of trouble for Europe and for the United States in the years ahead.

I'd just like to make one more point about this, in terms of the history of the Balkans. As long as people have existed there have been problems among people who are different from one another, and there probably always will be. But you do not have systematic slaughter and an effort to eradicate the religion, the culture, the heritage, the very record of presence of the people in any area unless some politician thinks it is in his interest to foment that sort of hatred. That's how these things happen -- people with organized political and military power decide it is in their interest that they get something out of convincing the people they control or they influence to go kill other people and uproot them and dehumanize them.

I don't believe that the Serb people in their souls are any better -- I mean, any worse -- than we are. Do you? Do you believe when a little baby is born into a certain ethnic or racial group that somehow they have some poison in there that has to, at some point when they grow up, turn into some vast flame of destruction? Congressman Engel has got more Albanians than any congressman in the country in his district. Congressman Quinn's been involved in the peace process in Ireland. You think there's something about the Catholic and Protestant Irish kids that sort of genetically predisposes them to -- you know better than that, because we're about to make peace there, I hope -- getting closer.

Political leaders do this kind of thing. You think the Germans would have perpetrated the Holocaust on their own without Hitler? Was there something in the history of the German race that made them do this? No.

We've got to get straight about this. This is something political leaders do. And if people make decisions to do these kinds of things, other people can make decisions to stop them. And if the resources are properly arrayed it can be done.

And that is exactly what we intend to do.

Now, last week, despite our differences over the NATO action in Kosovo, Russia joined us, through the G-8 foreign ministers, in affirming our basic condition for ending the conflict, in affirming that the mass expulsion of the Kosovars cannot stand. We and Russia agreed that the international force ideally should be endorsed by the United Nations, as it was in Bosnia. And we do want Russian forces, along with those of other nations, to participate, because a Russian presence will help reassure the Serbs who live in Kosovo -- and they will need some protection, too, after all that has occurred.

NATO and Russian forces have served well side-by-side in Bosnia, with forces from many other countries. And with all the difficulties, the tensions, the dark memories that still exist in Bosnia, the Serbs, the Muslims, the Croats are still at peace, and still working together. Nobody claims that we can make everybody love each other overnight. That is not required. But what is required are basic norms of civilized conduct.

Until Serbia accepts these conditions, we will continue to grind down its war machine. Today, our allied air campaign is striking at strategic targets in Serbia and directly at Serb forces in Kosovo, making it harder for them to obtain supplies, protect themselves, and attack the ethnic Albanians who are still there. NATO actions will not stop until the conditions I have described for peace are met.

Last week, I had a chance to meet with our troops in Europe -- those who are flying the missions and those who are organizing and leading our humanitarian assistance effort. I can tell you that you and all Americans can be very, very proud of them. They are standing up for what is right. They are performing with great skill and courage and sense of purpose. And in their attempts to avoid civilian casualties, they are sometimes risking their own lives. The wing commander at Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Germany told me, "Sir, our team wants to stay with this mission until it's finished."

I am very grateful to these men and women. They are worthy successors to those of you in this audience who are veterans today.

Of course, we regret any casualties that are accidental, including those at the Chinese embassy. But let me be clear again: These are accidents. They are inadvertent tragedies of conflict. We have worked very hard to avoid them. I'm telling you, I talked to pilots who told me that they had been fired at with mobile weapons from people in the middle of highly populated villages, and they turned away rather than answer fire because they did not want to risk killing innocent civilians.

That is not our policy. But those of you who wear the uniform of our country and the many other countries represented here in this room today, and those of you who are veterans, know that it is simply not possible to avoid casualties of noncombatants in this sort of encounter. We are working hard. And I think it is truly remarkable -- I would ask the world to note that we have now flown over 19,000 sorties, thousands and thousands of bombs have been dropped, and there have been very few incidents of this kind. I know that you know how many there have been because Mr. Milosevic makes sure that the media has access to them.

I grieve for the loss of the innocent Chinese and their families. I grieve for the loss of the innocent Serbian civilians and their families. I grieve for the loss of the innocent Kosovars who were put into a military vehicle that our people thought was a military vehicle, and they've often been used as shields.

But I ask you to remember the stories I told you earlier. There are thousands of people that have been killed systematically by the Serb forces. There are 100,000 people who are still missing. We must remember who the real victims are here and why this started.

It is no accident that Mr. Milosevic has not allowed the international media to see the slaughter and destruction in Kosovo. There is no picture reflecting the story that one refugee told of 15 men being tied together and set on fire while they were alive. No, there are no pictures of that. But we have enough of those stories to know that there is a systematic effort that has animated our actions, and we must not forget it.

Now, Serbia faces a choice. Mr. Milosevic and his allies have dragged their people down a path of racial and religious hatred. This has resulted, again and again, in bloodshed, in loss of life, in loss of territory, and denial of the Serbs' own freedom -- and now, in an unwinnable conflict against the united international community.

But there is another path available -- one where people of different backgrounds and religions work together, within and across national borders where people stop redrawing borders and start drawing blueprints for a prosperous, multiethnic future.

This is the path the other nations of southeastern Europe have adopted. Day after day, they work to improve lives, to build a future in which the forces that pull people together are stronger than those that tear them apart. Albania and Bulgaria, as well as our NATO ally, Greece, have overcome historical differences to recognize the independence of the The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and others have deepened freedoms, promoted tolerance, and pursued difficult economic reforms. Slovenia has advanced democracy at home and prosperity stood for regional integration, increased security cooperation, with a center to defuse land mines left from the conflict in Bosnia.

These nations are reaffirming that discord is not inevitable, that there is not some Balkan disease that has been there for centuries, always waiting to break out. They are drawing on a rich past where peoples of the region did, in fact, live together in peace.

Now, we and our allies have been helping to build that future, but we have to accelerate our efforts. We will work with the European Union, the World Bank, the IMF and others to ease the immediate economic strains, to relieve debt burden, to speed reconstruction, to advance economic reforms and regional trade. We will promote political freedom and tolerance of minorities.

At our NATO Summit last month, we agreed to deepen our security engagement in the region, to adopt an ambitious program to help aspiring nations improve their candidacies to join the NATO Alliance. They have risked and sacrificed to the support the military and humanitarian efforts. They deserve our support.

Last Saturday was the anniversary of one of the greatest days in American history and in the history of freedom -- VE Day. Though America celebrated that day in 1945, we did not pack up and go home. We stayed, to provide economic aid, to help to bolster democracy, to keep the peace, and because our strength and resolve was important as Europe rebuilt, learned to live together faced new challenges together.

The resources we devoted to the Marshall Plan, to NATO, to other efforts, I think we would all agree have been an enormous bargain for our long-term prosperity and security here in the United States -- just as the resources we are devoting here at this institution -- to reaching out to people from other nations, to their officers, to their military, in a spirit of cooperation are an enormous bargain for the future security of the people of the United States.

Now, that's what I want to say in my last point here. War is expensive peace is cheaper. Prosperity is downright profitable. We have to invest in the rebuilding of this region. Southeastern Europe, after the Cold War, was free but poor. As long as they are poor, they will offer a less compelling counterweight to the kind of ethnic exclusivity and oppression that Mr. Milosevic preaches.

If you believe the Marshall Plan worked, and you believe war is to be avoided whenever possible, and you understand how expensive it is and how profitable prosperity is, how much we have gotten out of what we have done -- then we have to work with our European allies to rebuild southeastern Europe and to give them an economic future that will pull them together.

The European Union is prepared to take the lead role in southeastern Europe's development. Russia, Ukraine, other nations of Europe's east are building democracy -- they want to be a part of this.

We are trying to do this in other places in the world. What a great ally Japan has been for peace and prosperity, and will be again as they work to overcome their economic difficulty. Despite our present problems, I still believe we must remain committed to building a long-term strategic partnership with China.

We must work together with people where we can, as we prepare -- always -- to protect and defend our security if we must. But a better world and a better Europe are clearly in America's interests.

Serbia and the rest of the Balkans should be part of it. So I want to say this one more time: Our quarrel is not with the Serbian people. The United States has been deeply enriched by Serbian Americans. Millions of Americans are now cheering for some Serbian Americans as we watch the basketball play-offs every night on television. People of Serbian heritage are an important part of our society. We can never forget that the Serbs fought bravely with the allies against fascist aggression in World War II that they suffer much that Serbs, too, have been uprooted from their homes and have suffered greatly in the conflicts of the past decade that Mr. Milosevic provoked.

But the cycle of violence has to end. The children of the Balkans -- all of them -- deserve the chance to grow up without fear. Serbs simply must free themselves of the notion that their neighbors must be their enemies. The real enemy is a poisonous hatred unleashed by a cynical leader, based on a distorted view of what constitutes real national greatness.

The United States has become greater as we have shed racism, as we have shed a sense of superiority, as we have become more committed to working together across the lines that divide us, as we have found other ways to define meaning and purpose in life. And so has every other country that has embarked on that course.

We stand ready, therefore, to embrace Serbia as a part of a new Europe -- if the people of Serbia are willing to invest and embrace that kind of future if they are ready to build a Serbia and a Yugoslavia that is democratic and respects the rights and dignity of all people if they are ready to join a world where people reach across the divide to find their common humanity and their prosperity.

This is the right vision, and the right course. It is not only the morally right thing for America, it is the right thing for our security interests over the long run. It is the vision for which the veterans in this room struggled so valiantly, for which so many others have given their lives.

With your example to guide us, and with our allies beside us, it is a vision that will prevail. And it is very, very much worth standing for.

Thank you, and God bless you.

[end of text]



Base Theatre/Fest Tent
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Hello.

THE PRESIDENT: From the reception you gave my daughter, I thought he was going to say I was Chelsea's father, too. (Laughter.) Thank you.

I want to thank all of you for making us feel so welcome. I want to introduce the people who came with me: our Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. (Applause.) Our NATO Commander, General Wes Clark. (Applause.) My Chief of Staff, John Podesta. (Applause.) National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. (Applause.) And four members of the United States Congress: Representative Jack Kingston from Georgia. (Applause.) Representative Peter Deutsch from Florida. (Applause.) Representative Carolyn Maloney from New York City. (Applause.) And Representative Eliot Engel from New York City. (Applause.) And Chelsea. (Applause.)

Let me say that we are honored to be with you. We thank you for your service. We're looking forward to eating a big, early Thanksgiving dinner with the men and women of Task Force Falcon. (Applause.)

I want to salute some of the troops for what they have done at Camp Bondsteel and Camp Monteith. And also I want to thank those from other nations in our multinational Brigade East. I want to visit you now, at this season of Thanksgiving, not only because you're doing a hard job, a long way from home -- but because here we've got a lot to be thankful for.

Thanks to you we have reversed ethnic cleansing. We have a successful military mission which was brilliantly executed, with no combat casualties. And now, we have a chance -- not a guarantee, but a chance -- to work with these folks to build a lasting peace in the Balkans.

Now that Operation Allied Force is over, there is a new struggle underway, and Camp Bondsteel is on the front lines. Operation Joint Guardian will protect and deepen the peace we are working so hard to make permanent.

You certainly haven't wasted any time. The story of Bondsteel reads like something out of the settling of the Old West. Not long ago, this was a hay field. Soon after NATO came into Kosovo, it became a beehive of activity. Between the Army engineers and the Navy Seabees -- (laughter and applause) --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, anyway, somewhere -- (laughter) -- somewhere between the Army Engineers and the Navy Seabees, you move over a half a million cubic yards of Earth. You brought enough gravel to lay a two-lane road all across the state of Missouri. (Applause.) In less than five months, you built 160 sea huts, a chapel, a gym, a hospital, mess halls, a PX, a barber shop and an aviation area. (Applause.)

I want to salute a few of the responsible units. Don't be shy. The Headhunters of the Engineer Brigade First Infantry Division. (Applause.) The Blue Devils of the 3504 Parachute -- (applause) -- I just want to note for the press that the Blue Devils of the 3504 Parachute Infantry Regiment are also known as "devils in baggy pants." (Applause.) The Steel Tigers of the 177 Armor Battalion. The Bone Crushers of the 2nd Platoon Bravo Company. The Blue Spaders of the 126 Infantry Regiment. The Hellcats of the 299th Forward Support Battalion. (Applause.) The Eagles of Task Force 21 Aviation Regiment. (Applause.) The Spartans of the 793rd Military Police Battalion. (Applause.) The Dagger Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. (Applause.) The Navy Seabees of Battalion 3. (Applause.)

You did pretty well. (Applause.)

Let me say to all of you, I know that a lot of your assignments are still dangerous. I appreciate the hard work you have done to protect all the people of Kosovo, including the Serbs. I appreciate your pursuit of local thugs, like the mad mortar-man. I appreciate your constant mediation between people who have a long way to go toward reconciliation.

I'm told that children routinely say, "We love you, United States." Well, they love the United States because they love you, because we gave them their freedom back, we gave them a chance to go home. We're giving the children a chance to have a different life than their parents have lived.

But let me just say this -- I say this every time I speak to a group of American servicemen and women overseas -- the biggest problem in the world today, with all the modern technology, all your fancy computers, everybody getting on the Internet -- (laughter) -- all the new discoveries in science, the biggest problem in the world today is the oldest problem of human society: people tend to be afraid of people who don't look like them, and don't worship God the way they do, and come from a different place.

And when you're afraid of somebody, it's just a short step to disliking them. If you dislike them, it's a short step to hating them. If you hate them, it's a short step to dehumanizing them. And once you do that, you don't feel bad about killing them. Now that's what this whole deal is about.

And you see this problem in our inability to solve the peace in the Middle East, although we're getting there. But it's been a long time coming. We may be about to have a final breakthrough in the Irish civil war -- been 30 years coming. Almost 800,000 people were killed in a hundred days in Rwanda by people of two different tribes, one hacking the other to death with machetes -- they hardly had any guns at all.

And if you strip it all away, the number one problem in this whole world today is the problem of Bosnia, the problem of Kosovo. It's racial and ethnic and religious hatred and dehumanization.

All you've got to do is look around the room today, and you see that our military is a stunning rebuke to that. This is the American idea in flesh and blood, all of you. You come from all different backgrounds, all different races, all different religious faiths, all different walks of life. And you're here working together as a team. You can appreciate your differences. You can even make fun of them. You can even make jokes about them -- because you know that your common humanity and your shared values are even more important than you differences. (Applause.)

Now, the most important thing you can do, besides keeping these people alive and having security, is to teach that to the children and to their parents by the power of your example and your own testimony. Because I am telling you, what they're going through here today is an example, but by no means the only example, of the worst problem the world faces on the eve of a new millennium. And it violates everything we in America stand for.

And the power of our weapons could win the military battle in Kosovo. But the peace can only be won by the human heart. And every day they see you -- every day these little old kids see you working together -- even if they don't speak our language, even if they never met any African-Americans or Hispanics before, even if they don't know any Asians before -- they can see. They have eyes. They'll get it. You just show up and you be yourself and you do what you're supposed to do and you treat them right, the power of your example will show them that they do not have to be trapped in the pattern which led to the slaughter of a quarter of a million people in Bosnia, 2.5 million refugees there, almost 1 million refugees here, though we acted quicker, and because we acted quicker, they all came home.

But now that they came home, they've got to learn how to win the peace. And I say that to the other nations who are here represented. I want people to see Americans working with you. I want these children to know that the world is a better place when people are proud of their own race and ethnicity and religion, but respectful of others when they are secure enough in who they are that they don't have to put anybody else down, hurt anybody else, torch anybody else's church or mosque just to feel that they matter. This is the most important issue in the whole world today.

And just by getting up every day, going to work, keeping the kind of morale that you manifested today with your cheers and your pride, you are a rebuke to the biggest problem in the world, and the power of your example can do more than anything else to help us to win the peace.

Thank you, God bless you, and Happy Thanksgiving. (Applause.)

(A gift is presented to the President.)

THE PRESIDENT: You all know I have an important job, because I'm your Commander-In-Chief, right? (Applause.) Well, tomorrow, because I'm also the President and I have broad executive authority, I get home at 10:00 p.m. tonight, we're all dog-tired, but I've got to get up and go to work tomorrow because I have to do something that every president has been doing since the 1920s. I have to pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. (Laughter.) And they bring me a big turkey and we let one go so we can eat all the others. (Laughter.) And they put this turkey in a petting zoo for children to see in the Washington area.

Anyway, it's always a great deal. I just say, when I go into the office tomorrow to pardon the turkey, I'm going to take the falcon and put it on my desk so all of America can see when my desk is on television what you're doing.

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Kosovo Indictment Proves Bill Clinton’s Serbian War Atrocities

President Bill Clinton’s favorite freedom fighter just got indicted for mass murder, torture, kidnapping, and other crimes against humanity. In 1999, the Clinton administration launched a 78-day bombing campaign that killed up to 1500 civilians in Serbia and Kosovo in what the American media proudly portrayed as a crusade against ethnic bias. That war, like most of the pretenses of U.S. foreign policy, was always a sham.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci was charged with ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by an international tribunal in The Hague in the Netherlands. It charged Thaci and nine other men with “war crimes, including murder, enforced disappearance of persons, persecution, and torture.” Thaci and the other charged suspects were accused of being “criminally responsible for nearly 100 murders” and the indictment involved “hundreds of known victims of Kosovo Albanian, Serb, Roma, and other ethnicities and include political opponents.”

Hashim Thaci’s tawdry career illustrates how anti-terrorism is a flag of convenience for Washington policymakers. Prior to becoming Kosovo’s president, Thaci was the head of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), fighting to force Serbs out of Kosovo. In 1999, the Clinton administration designated the KLA as “freedom fighters” despite their horrific past and gave them massive aid. The previous year, the State Department condemned “terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.” The KLA was heavily involved in drug trafficking and had close to ties to Osama bin Laden.

But arming the KLA and bombing Serbia helped Clinton portray himself as a crusader against injustice and shift public attention after his impeachment trial. Clinton was aided by many shameless members of Congress anxious to sanctify U.S. killing. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CN) whooped that the United States and the KLA “stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.” And since Clinton administration officials publicly compared Serb leader Slobodan Milošević to Hitler, every decent person was obliged to applaud the bombing campaign.

Both the Serbs and ethnic Albanians committed atrocities in the bitter strife in Kosovo. But to sanctify its bombing campaign, the Clinton administration waved a magic wand and made the KLA’s atrocities disappear. British professor Philip Hammond noted that the 78-day bombing campaign “was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorize the country into surrender.”

NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas. Cluster bombs are anti-personnel devices designed to be scattered across enemy troop formations. NATO dropped more than 1,300 cluster bombs on Serbia and Kosovo and each bomb contained 208 separate bomblets that floated to earth by parachute. Bomb experts estimated that more than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended and maimed children long after the ceasefire.

In the final days of the bombing campaign, the Washington Post reported that “some presidential aides and friends are describing Kosovo in Churchillian tones, as Clinton’s ‘finest hour.’” The Post also reported that according to one Clinton friend “what Clinton believes were the unambiguously moral motives for NATO’s intervention represented a chance to soothe regrets harbored in Clinton’s own conscience…The friend said Clinton has at times lamented that the generation before him was able to serve in a war with a plainly noble purpose, and he feels ‘almost cheated’ that ‘when it was his turn he didn’t have the chance to be part of a moral cause.’” By Clinton’s standard, slaughtering Serbs was “close enough for government work” to a “moral cause.”

Shortly after the end of the 1999 bombing campaign, Clinton enunciated what his aides labeled the Clinton doctrine: “Whether within or beyond the borders of a country, if the world community has the power to stop it, we ought to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing.” In reality, the Clinton doctrine was that presidents are entitled to commence bombing foreign lands based on any brazen lie that the American media will regurgitate. In reality, the lesson from bombing Serbia is that American politicians merely need to publicly recite the word “genocide” to get a license to kill.

After the bombing ended, Clinton assured the Serbian people that the United States and NATO agreed to be peacekeepers only “with the understanding that they would protect Serbs as well as ethnic Albanians and that they would leave when peace took hold.” In the subsequent months and years, American and NATO forces stood by as the KLA resumed its ethnic cleansing, slaughtering Serb civilians, bombing Serbian churches and oppressing any non-Muslims. Almost a quarter-million Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and other minorities fled Kosovo after Mr. Clinton promised to protect them. By 2003, almost 70 percent of the Serbs living in Kosovo in 1999 had fled, and Kosovo was 95 percent ethnic Albanian.

But Thaci remained useful for U.S. policymakers. Even though he was widely condemned for oppression and corruption after taking power in Kosovo, Vice President Joe Biden hailed Thaci in 2010 as the “George Washington of Kosovo.” A few months later, a Council of Europe report accused Thaci and KLA operatives of human organ trafficking. The Guardian noted that the report alleged that Thaci’s inner circle “took captives across the border into Albania after the war, where a number of Serbs are said to have been murdered for their kidneys, which were sold on the black market.” The report stated that when “transplant surgeons” were “ready to operate, the [Serbian] captives were brought out of the ‘safe house’ individually, summarily executed by a KLA gunman, and their corpses transported swiftly to the operating clinic.”

Despite the body trafficking charge, Thaci was a star attendee at the annual Global Initiative conference by the Clinton Foundation in 2011, 2012, and 2013, where he posed for photos with Bill Clinton. Maybe that was a perk from the $50,000 a month lobbying contract that Thaci’s regime signed with The Podesta Group, co-managed by future Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, as the Daily Caller reported.

Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo where a statue of him was erected in the capital, Pristina. The Guardian newspaper noted that the statue showed Clinton “with a left hand raised, a typical gesture of a leader greeting the masses. In his right hand he is holding documents engraved with the date when NATO started the bombardment of Serbia, 24 March 1999.” It would have been a more accurate representation to depict Clinton standing on a pile of corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the U.S. bombing campaign.

In 2019, Bill Clinton and his fanatically pro-bombing former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, visited Pristina, where they were “treated like rock stars” as they posed for photos with Thaci. Clinton declared, “I love this country and it will always be one of the greatest honors of my life to have stood with you against ethnic cleansing (by Serbian forces) and for freedom.” Thaci awarded Clinton and Albright medals of freedom “for the liberty he brought to us and the peace to entire region.” Albright has reinvented herself as a visionary warning against fascism in the Trump era. Actually, the only honorific that Albright deserves is “Butcher of Belgrade.”

Clinton’s war on Serbia was a Pandora’s box from which the world still suffers. Because politicians and most of the media portrayed the war against Serbia as a moral triumph, it was easier for the Bush administration to justify attacking Iraq, for the Obama administration to bomb Libya, and for the Trump administration to repeatedly bomb Syria. All of those interventions sowed chaos that continues cursing the purported beneficiaries.



THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I have just had a long and very good meeting with a large number of members of Congress to discuss America's effort, along with our NATO allies, to stand against ethnic cleansing, save lives, and bring peace in Kosovo. I'm grateful for the support we have received from members of Congress from both parties, and also very grateful for the questions, the comments, the advice that came out of this and previous meetings.

Our objectives here are clear, but I want to restate them. We want the Serb forces out of Kosovo. We want the refugees to be able to go home, protected by an international security force, as they work toward self-government.

This is Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day let us resolve not to let this ethnic cleansing and killing by Mr. Milosevic go unanswered.

You know, yesterday I had the privilege of meeting at Barksdale Air Force Base with air crews participating in the allied campaign. They and all our forces are performing with extraordinary courage and skill. They are very well prepared, and their morale is high. They know they and our allies are fighting to end human suffering, and for a Europe that is united, democratic and at peace.

Our campaign is diminishing and grinding down Mr. Milosevic's military capabilities. We have weakened Serbia's air defenses and command and control. We have reduced his ability to move, sustain and supply the war machine in Kosovo. We have damaged his refineries and diminished his capacity to produce ammunition. We are striking now at his tanks, and at his artillery, and have destroyed half his advanced MiG-29 aircraft.

Now we are taking our allied air campaign to the next level, with more aircraft in the region, with a British carrier joining our USS Roosevelt and a French carrier in the area. Our humanitarian effort is also increasing to meet the daunting challenge of providing food and shelter for the hundreds of thousands of refugees.

All of us would like the conflict to end, especially for the suffering people of Kosovo. We would also like to end the trials for the people of Serbia, who have been forced into confrontation by a cynical leader who has no regard for their welfare and who, I am absolutely convinced, has not even told them the truth about what he has done to the people of Kosovo.

We and our allies did everything possible to end this crisis peacefully, but now we are at arms. We and our allies are united on this point: we must stay the course and persist until we prevail.

Again I say, Mr. Milosevic can end this crisis right now -- by withdrawing his forces, permitting deployment of an international security force, and allowing the unconditional return of all displaced persons.

As I told the members of Congress today, I will shortly submit to them an emergency supplemental budget request to fund our military operations and munitions needs while maintaining our military readiness to provide urgently needed assistance to the frontline states, nations bordering Kosovo, that are struggling to preserve their own stability as they cope with refugees and turmoil in the region and of course, to fund our portion of caring for the hundreds of thousands of refugees.

These expenses are an immediate and urgent emergency. They are necessary so that we and our NATO allies can continue to pursue this mission. I look forward to working with members of both parties in both Houses to pass this appropriation soon, and to continuing our mission to free the people of Kosovo of the oppression to which they have been subject, and meet the conditions which I have outlined.

Q Mr. President, the lawmakers said that you haven't taken ground troops off the table.

Q Mr. President, can you reach the refugees in Kosovo, Mr. President -- inside Kosovo -- can you reach those refugees, and does it have to be done by land?

THE PRESIDENT: Let me answer that. The real answer to that question is that it is a very hard one and we are working on it. We are quite concerned about the hundreds of thousands of refugees in Kosovo. The ones that are out of Kosovo, there is a big problem in providing food and housing and medical care, dealing with the ones that are just dehydrated. But at least we are now organized and we're moving on that.

There is a much bigger problem with the people within Kosovo, and there are any number of problems with providing aid from the air. First of all, there is the possibility that if we airdrop supplies, they won't actually get to the refugees, that the Serbian forces will take them up. Secondly, there is the problem of risk to our aircraft of going into Kosovo airspace to try to air-drop the supplies. So we are looking at both of those problems and what can be done about them, and what other options we have.

It is a huge problem. For the last couple of days, we've been working very hard on it. As soon as we have more to say on it, I'll be glad to make the appropriate announcements and our people will be at work on it. It is a very large problem. We're aware of it. We know what the obstacles are and we're doing our best to overcome them.



THE PRESIDENT: I want to give you a brief update aboutthat situation in Kosovo and make a few comments.

It is clear that Serb forces are now engaged in furtherattacks on Kosovar civilians. Already more than 40,000 Serb securityforces are poised in and around Kosovo, with additional units on theway. These actions are in clear violation of commitments Serbia madelast October when we obtained the cease-fire agreement.

As part of our determined efforts to seek a peacefulsolution, I asked Ambassador Holbrooke to see President Milosevic andmake clear the choice he faces. That meeting is either going on nowor should start in the next few minutes. If President Miloseviccontinues to choose aggression over peace, NATO's military plans mustcontinue to move forward.

I will be in close consultation with our NATO allies andwith Congress. Over the weekend, I met with my national securityteam to discuss the military options. I also spoke with other NATOleaders by telephone. There is strong unity among the NATO allies.We all agree that we cannot allow President Milosevic to continue theaggression with impunity. I have also sent a letter to PresidentYeltsin about the urgency of the situation.

Our objective in Kosovo remains clear: to stop thekilling and achieve a durable peace that restores Kosovars toself-government, the self-government that President Milosevicstripped away from them a decade ago. We and our NATO allies, andRussia, all agree that this is the right goal. The Kosovar Albanianshave accepted this course. Only President Milosevic and Serbia standin the way of peace. Serbia's mounting aggression must be stopped.

Since the adjournment of the peace talks in Paris lessthan a week ago, an estimated 30,000 more Kosovars have fled theirhomes. The number now exceeds more than a quarter of a millionpeople, one out of every eight people in Kosovo. Many of them noware in neighboring Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, all of whichcould be quickly drawn into this conflict. So could other nations inthe region, including Bosnia where allied determination ended aterrible war, and our allies, Greece and Turkey.


Key Issues Missile Defense Issues Remarks by President Clinton on Missile Defense

Excerpt from Remarks by President Clinton on National Missile Defense
September 1, 2000

"Now, no one suggests that NMD would ever substitute for diplomacy or for deterrence. But such a system, if it worked properly, could give us an extra dimension of insurance in a world where proliferation has complicated the task of preserving the peace. Therefore, I believe we have an

obligation to determine the feasibility, the effectiveness, and the impact of a national missile defense on the overall security of the United States.
The system now under development is designed to work as follows. In the event of an attack, American satellites would protect the launch of missiles. Our radar would track the enemy warhead and highly accurate, high-speed, ground-based interceptors would destroy them before they could reach their target in the United States.

We have made substantial progress on a system that would be based in Alaska and that, when operational, could protect all 50 states from the near-term missile threats we face, those emanating from North Korea and the Middle East. The system could be deployed sooner than any of the proposed alternatives. Since last fall, we've been conducting flight tests to see if this NMD system actually can reliably intercept a ballistic missile. We've begun to show that the different parts of this system can work together.

Our Defense Department has overcome daunting technical obstacles in a remarkably short period of time, and I'm proud of the work that Secretary (William) Cohen, General (Henry) Shelton and their teams have done.

One test proved that it is, in fact, possible to hit a bullet with a bullet. Still, though the technology for NMD is promising, the system as a whole is not yet proven. After the initial test succeeded, our two most recent tests failed, for different reasons, to achieve an intercept. Several more tests are planned. They will tell us whether NMD can work reliably under realistic conditions. Critical elements of the program, such as the booster rocket for the missile interceptor, have yet to be tested.

There are also questions to be resolved about the ability of the system to deal with countermeasures. In other words, measures by those firing the missiles to confuse the missile defense into thinking it is hitting a target when it is not.

There is a reasonable chance that all these challenges can be met in time. But I simply cannot conclude with the information I have today that we have enough confidence in the technology, and the operational effectiveness of the entire NMD system, to move forward to deployment.

Therefore, I have decided not to authorize deployment of a national missile defense at this time. Instead, I have asked Secretary Cohen to continue a robust program of development and testing. That effort still is at an early stage. Only three of the 19 planned intercept tests have been held so far. We need more tests against more challenging targets, and more simulations before we can responsibly commit our nation's resources to deployment.

We should use this time to ensure that NMD, if deployed, would actually enhance our overall national security. And I want to talk about that in a few moments.

I want you to know that I have reached this decision about not deploying the NMD after careful deliberation. My decision will not have a significant impact on the date the overall system could be deployed in the next administration, if the next President decides to go forward.

The best judgment of the experts who have examined this question is that if we were to commit today to construct the system, it most likely would be operational about 2006 or 2007. If the next President decides to move forward next year, the system still could be ready in the same time frame.

In the meantime, we will continue to work with our allies and with Russia to strengthen their understanding and support for our efforts to meet the emerging ballistic missile threat, and to explore creative ways that we can cooperate to enhance their security against this threat, as well.

An effective NMD could play an important part of our national security strategy, but it could not be the sum total of that strategy. It can never be the sum total of that strategy for dealing with nuclear and missile threats.

Moreover, ballistic missiles, armed with nuclear weapons, as I said earlier, do not represent the sum total of the threats we face. Those include chemical and biological weapons, and a range of deadly technologies for deploying them. So it would be folly to base the defense of our nation solely on a strategy of waiting until missiles are in the air, and then trying to shoot them down.

We must work with our allies, and with Russia, to prevent potential adversaries from ever threatening us with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction in the first place, and to make sure they know the devastating consequences of doing so.

The elements of our strategy cannot be allowed to undermine one another. They must reinforce one another, and contribute to our national defense in all its dimensions. That includes the profoundly important dimension of arms control.

Over the past 30 years, Republican and Democratic presidents alike have negotiated an array of arms control treaties with Russia. We and our allies have relied on these treaties to ensure strategic stability and predictability with Russia, to get on with the job of dismantling the legacy of the Cold War, and to further the transition from confrontation to cooperation with our former adversary in the most important arena, nuclear weapons.

A key part of the international security structure we have built with Russia and, therefore, a key part of our national security, is the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by President Nixon in 1972. The ABM Treaty limits anti-missile defenses according to a simple principle: neither side should deploy defenses that would undermine the other side's nuclear deterrent, and thus tempt the other side to strike first in a crisis or to take countermeasures that would make both our countries less secure.

Strategic stability, based on mutual deterrence, is still important, despite the end of the Cold War. Why? Because the United States and Russia still have nuclear arsenals that can devastate each other. And this is still a period of transition in our relationship.

We have worked together in many ways. Signed an agreement of cooperation between Russia and NATO. Served with Russian troops in Bosnia and Kosovo. But while we are no longer adversaries, we are not yet real allies. Therefore, for them as well as for us, maintaining strategic stability increases trust and confidence on both sides. It reduces the risk of confrontation. It makes it possible to build an even better partnership and an even safer world.

Now, here's the issue: NMD, if deployed, would require us either to adjust the treaty or to withdraw from it -- not because NMD poses a challenge to the strategic stability I just discussed, but because by its very words, ABM prohibits any national missile defense.

What we should want is to both explore the most effective defenses possible, not only for ourselves, but for all other law-abiding states, and to maintain our strategic stability with Russia. Thus far, Russia has been reluctant to agree, fearing I think, frankly, that in some sense, this system or some future incarnation of it could threaten the reliability of its deterrence and, therefore, strategic stability.

Nevertheless, at our summit in Moscow in June, President Putin and I did agree that the world has changed since the ABM Treaty was signed 28 years ago, and that the proliferation of missile technology has resulted in new threats that may require amending that treaty. And again, I say, these threats are not threats to the United States alone.

Russia agrees that there is an emerging missile threat. In fact, given its place on the map, it is particularly vulnerable to this emerging threat. In time, I hope the United States can narrow our differences with Russia on this issue. The course I have chosen today gives the United States more time to pursue that, and we will use it.

President Putin and I have agreed to intensify our work on strategic defense, while pursuing, in parallel, deeper arms reductions in START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) III. He and I have instructed our experts to develop further cooperative initiatives in areas such as theater missile defense, early warning and missile threat discussions for our meeting just next week in New York.

Apart from the Russians, another critical diplomatic consideration in the NMD decision is the view of our NATO allies. They have all made clear that they hope the United States will pursue strategic defense in a way that preserves, not abrogates, the ABM Treaty. If we decide to proceed with NMD deployment we must have their support, because key components of NMD would be based on their territories.

The decision I have made also gives the United States time to answer our allies' questions and consult further on the path ahead.

Finally, we must consider the impact of a decision to deploy on security in Asia. As the next President makes a deployment decision, he will need to avoid stimulating an already dangerous regional nuclear capability from China to South Asia. Now, let me be clear: no nation can ever have a veto over American security, even if the United States and Russia cannot reach agreement even if we cannot secure the support of our allies at first even if we conclude that the Chinese will respond to NMD by increasing their arsenal of nuclear weapons substantially with a corollary, inevitable impact in India and then in Pakistan.

The next President may nevertheless decide that our interest in security in 21st century dictates that we go forward with deployment of NMD. But we can never afford to overlook the fact that the actions and reactions of others in this increasingly interdependent world do bear on our security. Clearly ,therefore, it would be far better to move forward in the context of the ABM Treaty and allied support. Our efforts to make that possible have not been completed. For me, the bottom line on this decision is this: because the emerging missile threat is real, we have an obligation to pursue a missile defense system that could enhance our security."

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