Research by: Andy Wilcoxson - January 29, 2008


With the 2008 Presidential primaries in the mix I though it might be useful to take a look at the candidates views on the Balkans. This article is only intended to give you a brief look at the candidates views, not whether those views are right or wrong. 


Hillary Clinton (D)


Hillary Clinton’s biographer Gail Sheehy (author of “Hillary's Choice”) said, “After barely speaking to Bill Clinton for about eight months after the final Monica explosion, she called him from North Africa at the height of the Kosovo disturbances and convinced him to bomb Yugoslavia.”1

In her speeches and public appearances Hillary Clinton routinely compared Kosovo to the Holocaust. She decried what she called, “These heartbreaking stories of families separated, of girls raped, men executed, of homes destroyed, these tragic stories are happening every day”2 At the height of the 1999 NATO bombing she told reporters, “We do not intend to allow the evil that Milosevic has perpetrated against these people.”3


John Edwards (D)


In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations John Edwards said, “The United Nations and NATO have done so much for peace and human rights after the Cold War. We saw it in Bosnia, where we helped broker a lasting peace. And we saw it again in Kosovo, where we joined our NATO allies to stop a brutal war criminal from perpetrating another campaign of ethnic cleansing.”4


John Edwards was one of the most militant voices supporting the 1999 NATO attack on Yugoslavia. He told the Associated press “We're only interested in peace on our terms. These air raids have had a real effect on [Milosevic's] popularity and political strength”.5


Barack Obama (D)


Barack Obama's views on Balkans are not known. The candidate has not taken a position. However, his foreign policy team includes former Clinton administration officials Anthony Lake and Susan Rice both of whom were instrumental in the formulation of the Clinton Administration's foreign policy. 6

Anthony Lake in particular was said to be involved in an alleged scheme to traffic Iranian weapons to the Bosnian Muslims.


Mike Gravel (D)


Having been out of office for 26 years, former Alaska senator Mike Gravel says he is not up to date on the Balkans. On Kosovo he said, “There are Muslims and there are Christians,” and you “have to bring their patrons in” adding that the U.S. should “recognize that Russia has a stake” in the region.7


John McCain (R)


McCain blames Serbia for the wars that tore Yugoslavia apart in the 1990s. He said, “Slobodan Milosevic’s regime started four wars.”8


In 1999 McCain criticized the Clinton Administration for not being belligerent enough in its drive to crush Serbia. During the NATO bombing he introduced a resolution in the Senate to invade Yugoslavia with US ground troops.9 He said, “Avoiding casualties theirs and ours is not our primary objective. Winning is.”10


Rudolph Giuliani (R)


Giuliani believes that “NATO aircrafts helped bring an end to the Bosnian War. Five years later in the face of the inability of the United Nations to really act, it was NATO that stopped genocide in Kosovo.”11


In 1999 Giuliani likened Kosovo to the Holocaust. He said the Holocaust wasn't “an isolated incident in human history. And we're seeing it today in Europe”. Giuliani believes that the U.S. had to “play a role to try to prevent atrocities” in Kosovo. During the war he prodded the Clinton Administration to have a backup “game plan” that included the use of ground troops.12


Mitt Romney (R)


Mitt Romney has not had much to say about the Balkans. In a 1994 debate Romney said he would only favor committing American troops when American interests were clearly at stake, defining those interests as a risk to American lives, economic well being or national security. Romney said that test would have led him to back the Desert Storm campaign in Iraq, but oppose intervention in Bosnia.13


Mike Huckabee (R)


Mike Huckabee's views on Balkans are the least known of any candidate. He has not taken a public position.


Ron Paul (R)


Ron Paul strongly opposed US intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo. During the Kosovo war Ron Paul said, “Here we are. We're involved in a war, a NATO war, an illegal war. It hasn't been declared. NATO's a defensive organization. This is aggression against a sovereign nation. We have no business over there.”14


Paul blasted government officials who supported the attack on Yugoslavia saying, “Only when those who champion our war effort in Serbia are willing to volunteer for the front lines and offer their own lives for the cause will they gain credibility. Promoters of war never personalize it. It is always some other person or some other parent's child's life who will be sacrificed, not their own.”15 




1 -      MSNBC; HARDBALL 19:00 ET; December 6, 1999 Monday
2 -     
CNN; CNN INSIDE POLITICS 17:00 ET; May 18, 1999
3 -     
Agence France Presse (English); May 14, 1999 15:13 GMT; Hillary Clinton likens Kosovars' plight to Holocaust
4 -     
John Edwards Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations; New York, New York; May 23, 2007
5 -     
The Associated Press State & Local Wire; June 5, 1999, Saturday, PM cycle; Edwards backs Kosovo peace agreement
6 -     
Obama's policy team loaded with all-stars; The Chicago Tribune; September 17, 2007
7 -     
At the UN, Mike Gravel on Kososo and Blowback and Presidential Fitness; By: Matthew Russell; Inner City Press; September 11, 2007
8 -     
9 -     
The Washington Times; April 13, 1999, Tuesday, Final Edition; GOP not united on Kosovo policy; Republicans could use crisis as weapon in  2000 presidential campaign
10 -  
Cox News Service; April 19, 1999; McCain calls for 'whatever force necessary' in Kosovo
11 -  
Mayor Giuliani’s Remarks To The NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation Seminar, Norfolk, VA, 10/11/07
12 -  
Daily News (New York); April 12, 1999, Monday; KOSOVO COLORS HOLOCAUST SERVICE
13 -  
The Boston Globe; September 7, 1994, Wednesday, City Edition; Romney, Lakian debate crime, tax and abortion
14 -  
FOX NEWS NETWORK, May 6, 1999, Thursday, FOX HANNITY & COLMES (21:00 ET)
15 -
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD: March 24, 1999, Time: 1945; Page: H1672