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Clintons Speech

1349 words - 6 pages

On June 10, 1999, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia ended. This was the last armed conflict of the Yugoslav breakup era. The alleged rationale behind the attack was to stop the ethnic cleansing on Kosovo conducted by Serbia, led by Slobodan Milosevic (Bellamy 2002, p. 157). After the attacks ended, Bill Clinton, then president of the US, gave a speech with the alleged purpose of informing the American public about the end of the war in Yugoslavia. This essay will argue that Clinton used the distortion, evasion and omission of important facts in his speech in order to justify his and the decision-making of the US officials which resulted in a two and a half month long bombing of a sovereign ...view middle of the document...

’ To someone who is not familiar with the relevant facts, such as that the most of the Kosovar people never left their homes before the attack started, and only were forced by the Serbian army to leave once the bombs started dropping, this argument may seem flawless (Bellamy 2002, p. 164). Subsequently, Clinton attempted to appeal to the audience’s pathos (Bowcher 2012, p. 74) by asking them to thank their pilots and expressing his relief that they have survived and came back home safely. The impression is given that these pilots were actually risking their lives during the attacks. The reality is that they were dropping bombs from a safe distance on some of the major Yugoslav cities, populated with defenceless civilians, killing around five hundred Yugoslav civilians over the course of the bombing (Human Rights Watch, 2009). There were no known American victims in this attack.
In the middle of this part of his speech, Clinton switched his judicial oratory tone from NATO and its actions to accusing Milosevic and criticising his actions. Once again he attempted to appeal to the audience’s logos (Bowcher 2012, p. 74). However, this particular section of the speech can be seen as one big logical fallacy. Clinton brought up the Balkan conflicts that escalated as the breakup of Yugoslavia was initiated, only to summarise it and simplify it beyond any factual recognition and, as such, use it as a proper justification for the bombing of Yugoslavia (Gow & Zverzhanovski 2013, p. 22). He mentioned Milosevic’s wrong-doings during the Yugoslav breakup and the consequences of these actions, but forgot to mention how the US government and international bodies influenced by the US government affected the conflicts on the Balkans and what means and methods they used to achieve their goals – not too different from the ones Milosevic used himself. Furthermore, Clinton once again appealed to the pathos (Bowcher 2012, p. 74) of the audience by mentioning the desperate Kosovar people he personally met, describing their physical and mental conditions and asserting how they will not have to spend nights ‘in the cold mountains and forests’ and in ‘cellars, wondering if the next day will bring death or deliverance.’ By using this kind of rhetoric, Clinton tried to prove to the public that he personally cared about the oppressed people and that he personally believed that the action undertaken to allegedly help these people was morally justifiable. Another attempt to justify the attacks came when he referred to the attacks as ‘the stiffest military challenge in NATO’s 50-year history.’ However, the fact was that Yugoslavia, as a small country with a small population, was completely defenceless against a massive military force such as the US or NATO (Davidson 2011, p. 75). What made these attacks ‘the stiffest military challenge’ was the number of countries, some of which were NATO members, that were against and openly disapproved of the NATO...

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