Discordant echoes of NATO's "humanitarian war"
By William Pomeroy Judging by the negative assessments and wrangling that have followed the end of NATO's 78-day raining of aerial bombs and missiles on Yugoslavia, the initial claims of victory and of the triumph of right and justice are ringing hollowly around Europe. The war itself, its conduct, and its outcome are all being viewed in an unsavory light. In particular, the attempt by NATO chiefs to claim that the air war strategy was a success and achieved its aims has come under some debunking scrutiny. In the course of the bombing the NATO information/propaganda section's nightly TV announcements proclaimed that 15 Serb big guns and 20 armoured vehicles were being destroyed each day, finally declaring with positiveness that in all 40 percent of Serb guns and armour in Kosovo had been wiped out. When Serb forces withdrew from the province under the peace terms, NATO observers checking their exit were stunned to see that Serb armed forces' weaponry and armour were completely intact. What they did find were a number of dummy tanks, vehicles, even bridges and roads that their bombers were occasionally hitting. Nevertheless, NATO propagandists have continued to extol the high technological level of the US bombing. One of the "precision" bombing allegations NATO made most strenuously is that civilian casualties in Kosovo and Serbia were inadvertently caused by a small number of "stray" bombs. In truth, all civilian casualties — 1,200 killed and 10,000 wounded — were the result of deliberate targeting, whether the Chinese Embassy, the Belgrade television studios, passenger trains or town centres, with terrorising the clear aim. The CIA admitted choosing the Chinese target. The outcry that began to be raised in NATO countries against the slaughter of civilians and against the bombing campaign became such a problem for NATO that midway in the war a swarm of 40 or more British, US and other skilled propagandists had to be hurried to Brussels to concoct and to feed western media with faked stories to blur the effect of the murder from the skies. NATO's versions to justify its bombing shifted as the war went on, beginning with the claim that the purpose was to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo then later swinging to the excuse that the aim was to enable the return of those who had fled the province. The truth about the mass exodus is slow to emerge. Serbs deny carrying out large-scale expulsions. Many refugees admitted they were fleeing the NATO bombing. A KLA leader in Pristina, Lirak Qelaj, disclosed it was KLA "encouragement" rather than Serb deportations that drove out the ethnic Albanians. On June 27 British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who began his political career on the left wing of the Labour Party but swung totally over to right-wing Tony Blairism and who was a most hawkish supporter of the NATO bombing, proclaimed a list of "positive consequences" of the war. One of these claimed that it was "not a military victory but a victory for the values of human rights, ethnic equality, and humanitarian law". As Cook spoke, the right-wing gangs of the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and other ethnic Albanian thugs were murdering hundreds of Serbs in Kosovo, looting their property and burning their homes. Over 100,000 Serbs have had to flee to unoccupied Yugoslavia. This was occurring despite the presence of US, British, German, French and Italian troops who were allegedly administering Cook's "humanitarian law". A deal was made between the British commander, General Sir Michael Jackson, and a KLA leader, Hashim Thaqi, allowing the KLA 90 days to disarm (90 days for killing Serbs). KLA rule was established in 23 Kosovo towns by July 30. Up to the end of July only 28,000 NATO troops had arrived. No police had been organised. It was expected to be weeks before any were ready. It was into this vacuum that the KLA entered and took over. KLA links with the Mafia have long been known and it is reported that Kosovo has already become "the Colombia of the Balkans", the chief European centre for drug smuggling, facilitated by the lack of any border controls between Kosovo and Macedonia or Albania. Such is NATO's great victory for human rights.
* * *People's Weekly World, paper of Communist Party, USA.