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Old 11-01-2009, 11:45 AM   #1
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Kosovo honors Bill Clinton with statue

Kosovo honors Bill Clinton with statue

Large crowd of ethnic Albanians turn out to welcome ex-president

PRISTINA, Kosovo - Thousands of ethnic Albanians braved low temperatures and a cold wind in Kosovo's capital Pristina to welcome former President Bill Clinton on Sunday as he attended the unveiling of an 11-foot (3.5-meter) statue of himself on a key boulevard that also bears his name.

Clinton is celebrated as a hero by Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority for launching NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 that stopped the brutal Serb forces' crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

This is his first visit to Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia last year.

Many waved American, Albanian and Kosovo flags and chanted "USA!" as the former president climbed on top of a podium with his poster in the background reading "Kosovo honors a hero."

Some peeked out of balconies and leaned on window sills to get a better view of Clinton from their apartment blocks.

To thunderous applause Clinton waved to the crowd as the red cover was pulled off from the statue.

The statue is placed on top of a white-tiled base, in the middle of a tiny square, surrounded by communist-era buildings.

"I never expected that anywhere, someone would make such a big statue of me," Clinton said of the gold-sprayed statue weighing a ton (900 kilograms).

He also addressed Kosovo's 120-seat assembly, encouraging them to forgive and move on from the violence of the past.

The statue portrays Clinton with his left arm raised and holding a portfolio bearing his name and the date when NATO started bombing Yugoslavia, on March. 24, 1999.

An estimated 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed during the Kosovo crackdown and about 800,000 were forced out of their homes. They returned home after NATO-led peacekeepers moved in following 78 days of bombing.

Leta Krasniqi, an ethnic Albanian, said the statue was the best way to express the ethnic Albanians' gratitude for Clinton's role in making Kosovo a state.

"This is a big day," Krasniqi, 25 said. "I live nearby and I'm really excited that I will be able to see the statue of such a big friend of ours every day."

14,000-strong peacekeeping force
Clinton last visited Kosovo in 2003 when he received an honorary university degree. His first visit was in 1999 — months after some 6,000 U.S. troops were deployed in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission here.

Some 1,000 American soldiers are still based in Kosovo as part of NATO's 14,000-strong peacekeeping force.

Police in Kosovo upped security measures ahead of Bill Clinton's arrival by adding deploying more traffic police and special police.

NATO officials said the peacekeepers were also on alert, although no additional security measures were taken.

Kosovo honors Bill Clinton with statue - Europe- msnbc.com

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Old 11-01-2009, 05:00 PM   #2
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:15 PM   #3
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Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the nation formerly known as Yugoslavia – an act of aggression that prefigured America’s post-9/11 rampage and set the stage for our endless "war on terrorism" in many more ways than are at first apparent.

To begin with, the Yugoslav war, like the Iraq invasion, was predicated on a lie: that as many as 100,000 Kosovars and others were either killed or "ethnically cleansed" from Kosovo, and that this was the conscious plan of the Yugoslav military and political leadership. The 100,000 figure was casually thrown around in the run-up to the bombing, and "Stop genocide!" was the battle-cry of the War Party – a curious agglomeration of the usual neocons and the liberal-Left. This Bill Kristol-Susan Sontag popular front was greatly aided by the personal intervention of Hillary Clinton, who hectored her husband, then the president of the United States, into launching the U.S. attack.

Yet what took place was not genocide but the random brutality of a typical civil war, and the 100,000 figure is very far from the truth. That number didn’t hold up for very long, at any rate, and was subsequently revised downward several times: 50,000, 25,000, 10,000. The final body count: less than 8,000, and these included both sides, military as well as civilians. This is not good, but it is hardly genocide.
This is one civilizational war that all factions of the War Party can agree on, and certainly the groundwork has been laid with all the anti-Russian stunts and rhetoric of the past few years. From the Litvinenko affair to the Yushchenko "poisoning," the propaganda war against the Kremlin has taken on a novelistic air – pulp fiction, to be sure, and for that reason very effective.

The Kosovo war was essentially the first shot fired in a new cold war against what is invariably described as "resurgent Russia," i.e., a Russia without the oligarchs and Yeltsin, who plundered and weakened the country to the point of complete collapse. Coupled with inevitable allusions to Stalin and overblown charges that the country is backsliding into totalitarianism, the Russophobes have been on the march for the last decade or so, urging in effect a war of civilizations – not against Islam, as in the neoconservative version, but a struggle pitting the West against the Slavic East, supporting wars of "liberation" from Georgia to Chechnya and beyond. Right now, the odds are better than even that we’ll allow ourselves to get dragged into yet another such righteous and harebrained crusade.
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