It is rare when a candidate can get the facts and the atmospherics wrong but then Donald Trump is a rare candidate.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has issued an apology for his country’s decision to bomb Serbia during Bill Clinton’s tenure at the White House.
U.S. and NATO allies launched aerial campaigns against the faltering Yugoslav regime, targeting ethnic Serb troops, in 1995 and 1999. The first attack was carried out in support of groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, seeking independence from Belgrade, while the second was in support of similar forces in Kosovo.
“The bombing of Serbs, who were our allies in both world wars, was a big mistake,” Trump told the Serbian weekly magazine Nedeljnik for an article published on its website Thursday. “Serbians are very good people. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration caused them a lot of harm, but also throughout the Balkans, which they made a mess out of.”
Even if we all agree that the Balkans is a vipers nest of grievance, barely restrained violence, and all around bad actors, it takes a peculiar state of mind to see the Serbs as the victims in the Balkan “war” carried out under Bill Clinton. If there was actually a “bad guy” in the Balkans the Serbs have to be in contention for that honor.
Even Trump’s history is sort of skewed. Sure the Serbs were allies in World War I… once you put aside the fact of how World War I started… and sure they were our allies in WW II… just like Stalin. Oddly enough, though, the Chetniks of the pro-Nazi state of Croatia helped the US OSS rescue airmen who were shot down in their territory instead of turning them over the Germans. So allies is relative a relative term.
What is worse here is the atmospherics. Trump has the stench of Russian influence hanging about him. His business empire was kept afloat on a small lake of Russian cash. His top advisors are Russophiles. He seems to be a consumer of Russian manufactured news. In fact, his view on the Serbs is pretty much Moscow’s party line:
Eric Gordy, professor in Southeast European Politics at University College London, told Newsweek Trump’s words echo the tactic used by the Russian government to cultivate support among Serbs.
“The most obvious interpretation of his statement is that it is another sign of alignment with Russia,” he says. “To be honest, this kind of statement is usually more a symbolic attempt for Russian politicians to drum up resentment towards the U.S.,” Gordy explains.
What makes this so ironic is that Trump claims he doesn’t apologize for American:
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 13, 2016