Tags: Presidential History | bill clinton | wartime | quotes | kosovo speech

Bill Clinton Wartime Address Highlights: 5 Quotes From Kosovo Speech

Image: Bill Clinton Wartime Address Highlights: 5 Quotes From Kosovo Speech
US President Bill Clinton walks towards the podium at the White House in Washington, DC to announce that US-led airstrikes against Serbian targets had begun, 24 March, 1999. (Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 09:52 AM

Unlike his predecessor or successor in the White House, President Bill Clinton never dealt with the United States being committed to waging a full-scale war in any part of the world. Still, for Clinton, wartime was not a foreign concept either.

Clinton committed troops to NATO airstrikes on Serbian forces in Kosovo in 1999. Kosovo was a breakaway Serbian province composed mostly of ethnic Albanians. The whole region had been embroiled in war since Yugoslavia disintegrated into several new countries along ethnic lines when the Cold War ended.

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These five quotes from Clinton's speech on taking action in Kosovo highlight why he believed American involvement in the conflict proved necessary:

1. Protecting Kosovo Will Stop a Larger War From Developing.

"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."

2. Serbians Committed Atrocities Against Kosovo Citizens.
"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."

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3. Doing Nothing Would Endanger Millions of Lives.
"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 [Slobodan] 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."

4. Protecting Kosovo is America's responsibility.

"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."

5. America Needs a Stable Europe.

"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."

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Unlike his predecessor or successor in the White House, President Bill Clinton never dealt with the United States being committed to waging a full-scale war in any part of the world. Still, for Clinton, wartime was not a foreign concept either.
bill clinton, wartime, quotes, kosovo speech
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2015-52-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 09:52 AM
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