The KLA achieved victory with the help of United States and NATO bombers attacking Serbian forces.
At the time, President Bill Clinton portrayed the KLA as freedom fighters challenging Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic — a genocidal monster who died in a Hague prison cell in 2006. A few years ago, grateful Kosovars erected a bronze statue of Clinton in downtown Pristina, their capital.
But now, it turns out, members of the KLA were probably monsters, too.
“Our separatists are always good guys,” said Alan Kuperman, a public affairs professor at the University of Texas who has written about the moral hazards of intervening militarily for humanitarian purposes, speaking to VICE News. “Neither side was the good guy or the bad guy in this conflict in Kosovo. The way the story was portrayed in the 90s was always a caricature.”
The overlap with the US position on Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is troubling, said Kuperman.
“We condemn these separatists in Ukraine because they shot down a civilian plane,” he said. “They are evil, and Russia is bad for supporting them. But our separatists in Kosovo were trafficking in humans, in drugs, and allegedly in organ parts. But we’re not bad for supporting them. There’s a real double standard or hypocrisy.”