Kosovo: Clinton "lied, people died"?

Larry Elder
Posted: Dec 01, 2005 12:05 AM

The White House -- finally -- began pushing back against irresponsible charges that Bush "lied" to the American people in making the case for war.

 The garrulous Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., made many "Bush lied" accusations: "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January [2003] to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud." And Kennedy later intoned on the Senate floor, "Before the war, week after week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie after lie."

 Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said, " . . . [T]he administration intentionally misled the country into war." Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, speaking to the president in a TV ad, said, "You were wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. You were wrong about the link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. You lied to us, and because of your lies, my son died."

 Question: If Bush "lied," did former President Clinton "lie" about Kosovo?

 Clinton, in a March 24, 1999, Oval Office broadcast, explained his military action in Kosovo: "We act to prevent a wider war, to defuse a powder keg at the heart of Europe, that has exploded twice before in this century with catastrophic results. . . . By acting now, we are upholding our values, protecting our interests and advancing the cause of peace. . . . Ending this tragedy is a moral imperative. It is also important to America's national interests. . . . Do our interests in Kosovo justify the dangers to our armed forces? . . . I am convinced that the dangers of acting are far outweighed by the dangers of not acting -- dangerous to defenseless people and to our national interests. . . . 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."

 The former president called Kosovo a humanitarian crisis. The New York Times, on April 19, 1999, wrote: "In San Francisco on Thursday, President Clinton said that the Serbs had displaced 'over a million Kosovars' and had killed and raped 'thousands upon thousands of them.' From interviews that journalists and relief workers have conducted with scores of refugees from Kosovo, there is no reason to doubt him. But at this point it is also impossible to prove that he is correct."

 Actor/activist Mike Farrell, who opposes the Iraq War, nevertheless supported military action in Kosovo, stating, "I am in favor of an intervention. . . . I was in Rwanda shortly after the slaughter there. I was infuriated then -- and am now -- that the international community did not step in. . . . I know that the escalation of violence and violations of human rights in Kosovo have been going on for some time. . . . I reluctantly find myself supporting the notion that something needed to be done and that it is appropriate for us to act, and if this is the only way, so be it."

 But what about Clinton's assertion of the displacement of "over a million Kosovars"? According to USA Today on July 1, 1999, "Many of the figures used by the Clinton administration and NATO to describe the wartime plight of Albanians in Kosovo now appear greatly exaggerated as allied forces take control of the province. . . . Instead of 100,000 ethnic Albanian men feared murdered by rampaging Serbs, officials now estimate that about 10,000 were killed."

 But is the 10,000 number accurate?

 The Orange County Register, in a Nov. 22, 1999, editorial, said, "Months after the bombing has ceased, United Nations and European Union investigations have bolstered what critics had argued: NATO's estimates of Serbian genocide against the Kosovars were greatly overblown. Many observers now think the inflated numbers simply were part of the U.S.-led propaganda effort to build support for the war.

  " . . . The latest evidence suggests that fewer than 3,000 Kosovars were murdered -- horrifying, yes, but not many more than the number of Serbs who were killed by NATO bombing attacks on Yugoslavia, roughly estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers and civilians."

 Does this mean that Clinton "lied, people died"? The intelligence turned out to be wrong, very wrong. Something like this always warrants a serious examination of intelligence failures. But intelligence failures, bad intelligence or failing to properly analyze the intelligence is a far cry from accusing a commander in chief of deliberately and intentionally misleading the American people.

 Can we, perhaps, now drop the "Bush lied" nonsense, and pursue the business of winning the war against Islamo-fascism? Perhaps?