Clinton, Kosovo and Historical Sources: handle with care

Yesterday, the Serbian newspaper Kurir, titled an article “Confirmed: Clinton bombed Serbia because of Monica Lewinsky”. The author(s) of the article does mention, without quoting it, another article of the New York Times. NYT quoted some newly released archival documents from Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library (I already wrote about it last February). Kurir’s “masterpiece” obtained more than 1,000 “likes”, and more than 100 readers’ comments. With a sensationalistic style Kurir takes for granted something that it is not, mixing half truths with pure speculations.

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Indeed, Kurir describes the content of a memo prepared by Minyon Moore, Bill Clinton’s public liaison, suggesting how “to rebuild public confidence in the president” and gain new support and confidence in the American people shortly after Monica Lewinsky’s scandal. Actually this information is true, as it is possible to read in the original source (p. 395 of the *.pdf). Unfortunately, the Serbian tabloid, without any piece of evidence, states that Clinton, in order to solve his scandal, had to destroy Milosevic’s regime and needed to bomb Serbia in 1999 (the so called Kosovo War). This is a typical mistake that would be unacceptable for historians, to use a mere deduction as a clear proof for a thesis (e.g.: Clinton bombed Serbia because of the sexgate).

So Kurir is connecting a half truth, the need of Clinton’s administration to “rebuild public confidence in the president”, with an inference, something that was already alive in the mindset of certain Serbs, since 1999: that the American president needed a “fake war” in order to distract the public opinion from his scandal with Ms Lewinsky. We can call it the “Wag the Dog” syndrome. Or just a conspiracy theories mentality.

To be sure, the rest of the above mentioned Kurir’s article talks about the role of the USA in helping (with money and media support) the opposition in Serbia to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic and his regime. According to the published sources, this is true. First of all this is not really something new. But then, the real problem, that the author of Kurir’s article does not even mention, is what led the American administration to spend money in order to support the Serbian opposition. While America’s direct interference in the political life of a sovereign nation like Serbia (at the time it was called Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) may rise many legitimate questions, at least we should remember that Clinton’s administration, in 1998, tried to “avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo promoting a political settlement”. After all what happened in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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One thought on “Clinton, Kosovo and Historical Sources: handle with care

  1. Kosovo War: framing the narrative – dr. costamagna

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