Sincere regrets

By Craig Goodrich,, May 11, 1999

As I write this, in the wee hours of May 8, our U.S. ambassador to the U.N.,
Peter Burleigh, is addressing an emergency session of the Security Council,
responding to Chinese outrage that we blew up their embassy in Belgrade,
killing four and injuring a dozen others. Burleigh said earlier that there
was "no confirmation" that the missiles which flattened the Chinese embassy
were fired by NATO; he obviously believed that they might have come from
some other country firing missiles in Yugoslavia -- perhaps India or
But he's now admitted they were fired by NATO -- that is, by the U.S., since
our country is providing more than 90 percent of the operational support for
this war. He places the blame for this incident, though, squarely on the
shoulders of Milosevic, insisting "the real blame lies with Yugoslavia's
president for causing the Kosovo crisis." But he graciously offers the
Chinese our "sincere regrets" anyway.

Well, let's think about that for a moment. Milosevic had already agreed to
an international military presence in Kosovo -- indeed, two hundred
observers from the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe) had to be evacuated from Kosovo before the bombing began. What the
Clinton Administration insisted on, though, was free access to all of
Yugoslavia (not just Kosovo) by armed NATO troops, aircraft, and tanks. This
was the only point that Milosevic rejected. Could any sovereign country
acquiesce to such foreign occupation?

So the U.S., your country and mine, after a full year of rejecting one peace
plan after another -- one from the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church
and another from Kosovar Albanian politician Ibrahim Rugova, to name just
two -- decided to start bombing Yugoslavia to force Milosevic to accept
terms that no head of state anywhere in the world could possibly agree to.
The bombing violated the U.S. Constitution, the NATO Charter, the U.N.
Charter, the Geneva Accords, and indeed every known precept of international

Then Milosevic, free of foreign observers, faced with a civil war in Kosovo
fomented by the KLA -- a drug-running guerilla group financed principally by
the Albanian Mafia -- and believing that he had nothing further to lose,
unleashed his thuggish military to drive hundreds of thousands of Albanians
out of Kosovo. At the same time, he could silence his growing democratic
opposition by accusing them of treason. This is exactly what had been
predicted for more than a year by observers ranging from the CIA to the Cato
Institute -- yet the Administration (which has repeatedly utilized the "Wag
the Dog" phenomenon to build its own support) appeared shocked and

The bombing has been going on for more than six weeks. Kosovo is essentially
uninhabited now; its cleansing is complete. NATO -- that is, the U.S. with
Britain playing the part of the small but noisy faithful dog -- is running
out of targets. One oil refinery has been bombed into oblivion no fewer than
five separate times. Yugoslavia was a poor country to start with; the
bombing has destroyed more than twenty years of painful progress in
improving its standard of living. The Danube -- a principal highway of
commerce for all of southern Europe -- is blocked.

Feverishly searching for targets, we have recently bombed Montenegro, which
was run by a moderate, pro-Western, anti-Milosevic government -- now, like
all of Yugoslavia, being pushed into the Milosevic camp by NATO insanity.

We have bombed to rubble a splendid example of industrial Art-Deco
architecture in Nis on the grounds that it was a military target: it
produced cigarettes for the Serbian army.

We have repeatedly set off enormous quantities of high explosive within 50
yards of monasteries not only housing Orthodox monks working as best they
can to relieve the suffering of all Kosovars, but also containing
irreplaceable treasures of Byzantine religious art, which have survived
nearly a millennium of wars with the Bulgars, the Turks, the Austrians, and
the Nazis. These precious mosaics and frescos, and the beautiful medieval
monasteries themselves, are falling apart from the continuous pounding.

We have flattened the old city of Pec, whose markets and shops dated back to
the 13th century. We have damaged the 16th-century Hadum Mosque in
Djakovica, and the 1600-year-old Byzantine basilica in Nis. St. Procopius's
9th-century church in Prokuplje has been hit. The old Belgrade Fort has been
hit and part of its 15th-century rampart collapsed -- a historic site of
immense patriotic importance to Hungarians as well as Serbs, since it was
there that the Magyar hero, Janos Hunyadi, routed the Turks in July of 1456.

And speaking of Hungarians, on April 18 we blew up the Banovina Palace in
Novy Sad, the finest work of Art-Deco architecture in the Balkans, because
the Vojvodina Assembly met there. Most of the population of the Vojvodina
province of Serbia is of Magyar descent; before the bombing began they had
not been particularly friendly with Milosevic. Now, of course, they are.

While we were in Novy Sad, we also damaged the old Austrian Petrovaradin
Fortress, since it had a military-sounding name. The fact that it has had no
military importance whatever for more than 150 years, now houses only shops,
cafes, and museums, and was built nearly a century before our Declaration of
Independence was signed -- all this seems somehow to have been overlooked.

We have bombed a convoy of the very refugees we claim to be helping. We have
bombed a bus of civilians off a bridge. We have bombed a train full of
passengers. We have bombed bridges more than 500 years old, historical
treasures of no conceivable military value.

We are killing a couple of dozen innocent Serbs every day. The makeup girl
in the Belgrade TV studio. The residents of apartments two blocks from a
civilian factory. Just "collateral damage." We were horrified by the
senseless loss of innocent life at Columbine High School; NATO has been
providing a Columbine every day, a Waco every week, for a month and a half
now, and charging you upwards of two million dollars an hour to do so.

It is tempting to refer to this operation as The War To Make Everybody
Forget The Scandals, or The War To Keep CNN's Ratings Up. But NATO spokesmen
have scrupulously avoided the term "war", and the U.S. Congress has refused
to declare war. They're right: this is not a war; it's not a "police
action;" it's not even a "conflict." It has long since become simply an
exercise in compulsive, psychotic vandalism: not simply a crime against
international law but a crime against civilization itself -- a barbaric
video game on real people, heedless self-absorbed nihilism worthy of
Columbine's Trench Coat Mafia, to the accompaniment of pious cant against
violence from a president who has bombed more countries during his
administration than all others put together since the Second World War.

NATO diplomats from Greece, Italy, and Turkey could not convince the
administration to stop the bombing. Nor could Russia's dark hints of a wider
war. Nor could even the president's friend Jesse Jackson. But the Red
Chinese bought and paid for Clinton's reelection, and they may not be quite
so willing to settle for a breezy "you better put some ice on that."

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