Home > srebrenica massacre > BILL CLINTON: SHAMEFUL LEGACY

BILL CLINTON: SHAMEFUL LEGACY

February 2, 2008
On May 30, 1992, the United States imposed an arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia, preventing the Bosnian government to obtain arms and defend themselves against the powerful Yugoslav Army masquerading as the Bosnian Serb Army in the early 1990s. The Congress, however, voted to lift the arms embargo and sent the President a bill. Mr Clinton vetoed that bill… The results of Mr Clinton’s policies were devastating for Bosniak people. Just in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, over 10,000 people were killed, including 1,500 children – by the Bosnian Serb Army who kept the defenseless city under the siege… In Zepa, Serb Gen Zdravko Tolimir (aka: Chemical Tolimir) proposed Bosniak Muslim women and children to be gassed with chemical weapons, while in Srebrenica 8,000 to 10,000 Bosniak Muslims were summarily killed, buried in mass graves, and then re-buried in secondary mass graves to hide the crime.

Many people in Bosnia and elsewhere are grossly misinformed when it comes to the legacy of the former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

On September 20th 2003, over 30,000 Bosnians gathered in Potocari (Srebrenica) as former U.S. President Bill Clinton unveiled a monument to commemorate 8,000 to 10,000 Srebrenica genocide victims. Mr. Clinton was a U.S. president when the Bosnian war finally ended in 1995.

Srebrenica genocide survivors invited Mr Clinton to preside over the official opening of the genocide memorial center honoring the victims because of his “crucial role in ending the war.” Widows of those who died wanted Mr Clinton to be the person to open the new memorial site, with one telling the BBC: “He is the only man with the moral authority to do so.”

“Among all the world leaders, Clinton has the biggest moral right to open this memorial centre,” said Amor Masovic, the head of the Federal Commission for Missing Persons.

Many Bosnians view him as a man who stopped the war, and many Srebrenica genocide deniers (aka: conspiracy theorists) condemn him for his alleged complicity in arming Bosnian government to defend itself from the third most powerful European army in the early 1990s – the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA) masquerading as the (Serb) Army of Republika Srpska. But what many fail to see is that Mr Clinton did everything he could in his power to ensure the “capitulation” of the Bosnian government forces defending the country. Bosniak Muslim enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa fell to the Serbs partly due to the lack of weapons to defend themselves. This was, in part, thanks to Mr Clinton’s policies.

“We remember this terrible crime because we dare not forget, because we must pay tribute to the innocent lives, many of them children, snuffed out in what must be called genocidal madness.” – Mr. Clinton told thousands of victims’ relatives at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in Potocari.

As President, he promised when he was a candidate, he would lift the unfair United Nations arms embargo against Bosnia. But once in office, Bill Clinton completely changed his mind. He broke that pledge, broke that promise, and opposed lifting the arms embargo.

He reversed his position because, he said, it would be wrong for any international arms shipments to go to Bosnia. It would, quote:

“…convert a complex ethnic war into an American responsibility. The United States must, therefore, oppose any international arms shipments to Bosnia.”

The Congress, however, voted to lift the arms embargo and sent the President a bill. It was not quite unanimous, but it was hugely bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate sent the President a bill so that we could, through our allies, help the Bosnian government (Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina) to defend themselves. The President vetoed that bill. He said, quote:


“…nobody, not Turkey, not Saudi Arabia, none of our friends, least of all the United States of America, could help arm the Bosnian Moslems.”

The President assured not only Congress, but the American people and allies, like Britain and France, that he was staunchly opposed to lifting the arms embargo. The results of his policies were devastating. Just in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, over 10,000 people were killed, including 1,500 children – by the Bosnian Serb Army who kept the defenseless city under the siege. Bosnian government controlled defenseless enclaves fell to the Serb Army due to lack of weapons: In Zepa, Serb Gen Zdravko Tolimir (aka: Chemical Tolimir) proposed Bosniak Muslim women and children to be gassed with chemical weapons, while in Srebrenica 8,000 to 10,000 Bosniak Muslims were summarily killed, buried in mass graves, and then re-buried in secondary mass graves to hide the crime.

  1. Kirk Johnson
    February 4, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I would have rather seen Bob Dole and Joe Biden there representing the US, but that’s just me.

    Good post.

  2. Taras
    February 5, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Clinton just didn’t care.

  3. owen
    February 7, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Not the complete picture, though. Clinton was blamed by Dole and others for not raising the embargo honourably but instead giving Iran the go-ahead to smuggle in arms.

    “In short, this duplicitous policy has seriously damaged our credibility with our allies. It has also produced one of the most serious threats to our military forces in Bosnia and, according to the administration, the main obstacle to the arm and train program for the Bosnians–I am talking about the presence of Iranian military forces and intelligence officials in Bosnia.

    … had we lifted the arms embargo and had we provided the weapons, the Bosnians could have defended themselves and chances are there would not have been any American troops there now, and we would have had a peace agreement sooner and on better terms for the Bosnians. And most likely, as I said, we would not have 20,000 Americans in Bosnia at this moment. And finally, had we lifted the arms embargo on Bosnia, the United States would have done the right thing for the right reason. We would have done it openly, and we would have done it honestly.”

    http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1996_cr/s960417b.htm

  4. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    February 8, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Owen, there is no excuse. He vetoed the bill. Period.

  5. owen
    February 8, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I’m not making excuses for Clinton, just trying to round out the picture.

  6. Anonymous
    February 12, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    dobro dosli
    i dont speak wery well english and Bosniak but;im bosniak girl
    im living in Turkey
    i hate serbia ,USA,
    GOD BLESS YOU

    NİCE BLOG THANX (VİDİMO SE:))

  7. Marko Attila Hoare
    February 16, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Excellent post, Daniel. Always worth remembering the US’s shameful Bosnian policy under Clinton, which goes some of the way to explaining the mess that Bosnia is in today. Although the primary blame, among the Great Powers, lies with Britain and France; Clinton went along with them because he didn’t want to fall out with his allies, and didn’t much care about Bosnia or foreign policy in general. He was an unserious president. Which makes me apprehensive over what will happen if Hillary Clinton become president.

  8. Anonymous
    May 21, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    think clinton did the right thing nothin was going on before he vetoed the bill to pretect people sure it was a bad idea but if you ask me he did the right thing no need to get our people killed to stay over there sure if we went sooner and took control everything would of went better

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