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March 24, 1999

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At the end of the 20th century, after two world wars and a Cold War, we and our allies have a chance to leave our children a Europe that is free, peaceful and stable. But we must act now to do that. Because if the Balkans once again become a place of brutal killing and massive refugee flights, it will be impossible to achieve.

President Bill Clinton
March 24, 1999

Today, President Clinton made a brief statement about the air strikes that commenced against Serbian military targets in the former Yugoslavia by United States forces, acting with our NATO allies. The President will address the nation tonight about the necessity of this military action.

Working For A Peaceful Solution For Kosovo. The United States and our NATO allies made repeated efforts to obtain a peaceful solution to the crisis in Kosovo. However, President Milosevic, who started the wars against Croatia and Bosnia, chose aggression over peace and violated the commitments he made last fall to stop the brutal repression of Kosovo. President Milosevic also rejected the peace accords that NATO proposed last month and Kosovo's ethnic Albanians courageously accepted.

Acting To End The Crisis In Kosovo. President Milosevic's forces have intensified their attacks of burning down Kosovar Albanian villages and murdering innocent civilians. As a result, 60,000 Kosovars have fled their homes in the past five weeks, and a million of them are refugees in neighboring countries like Albania and Macedonia. The United States and NATO allies' air strikes have three objectives:

  • To deter President Milosevic from continuing to escalate his attacks on helpless civilians by imposing a price for those attacks.
  • To demonstrate the seriousness of NATO's opposition to aggression and its support for peace.
  • If necessary, to damage Serbia's capacity to wage war against Kosovo in the future by seriously diminishing its military capabilities.

Standing Against Ethnic Violence And Atrocity. President Clinton is aware of the risks that military action carries. However, the President believes that the dangers of acting now clearly outweigh the risks of failing to act--the risks of more innocent people being killed or driven from their homes, or the risks that the conflict in Kosovo will eventually involve and destabilize neighboring NATO allies like Greece and Turkey. Our NATO allies unanimously supported today's air strikes, and the United States must stand with them.

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