Thursday, April 8, 1999 Published at 09:20 GMT 10:20 UK
Albright denies prosecuting 'personal war'
Madeline Albright: "This is not my war"
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has denied leading the US into military action over Kosovo because her political judgement had been clouded by her childhood experiences as a refugee in post-war Europe.
The secretary of state's move to defend herself in an interview with CNN came as Nato air strikes entered a third week with bombing raids on the Yugoslav capital Belgrade. Fears are also growing for the plight of Kosovo Albanian refugees trapped inside the Serb province's closed borders.
With Yugoslav forces still on the move in Kosovo, Wednesday's Washington Post led criticisms of Ms Albright.
Mrs Albright and her aides have also been attacked in the US press for underestimating the Yugoslav president's readiness to move ruthlessly against the Kosovo Albanian population.
US commentators have closely identified Ms Albright with hawkish foreign policy in the Balkans, often prodding a reluctant administration to take tougher action.
Some critics have dubbed the conflict "Albright's War".
The struggle against President Milosevic was only in the "first quarter," she added.
Sources quoted by the Washington Post said Ms Albright's foreign policy had been "indelibly tainted" by her background, a child of war-torn Czechoslovakia who was herself twice a refugee - including a period spent in Serbia.
"I know that much has been made about my background," Ms Albright told CNN.
"But I think that any American who has the privilege to live in this country understands the importance of standing up for values and not allowing ethnic cleansing to reoccur.
"This is not my war.
"This is America's fight for our values."
Poll backs bombing
Critics argue if Ms Albright and President Bill Clinton were serious about winning a confrontation with President Milosevic and saving Kosovo Albanians from ethnic cleansing, they should have deployed ground troops - an option the administration continues to reject, fearing a public backlash.
Seventy-three per cent of respondents said they would favour sending ground troops if it was the only way to stop the fighting, the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said.
When people were asked whether they would choose to continue, to strengthen or to reduce military action, three-quarters said they would continue or strengthen it, the poll found.
Only 27% of Americans polled were against Nato air strikes while 38% polled rejected the idea of ground troops to stop the expulsion of Kosovo Albanians.
The poll of 509 people has a margin of error of 4.5%.