San Jose Mercury News (California)
   May 28, 1999
   EDITORIAL: Losing the moral war

   President Clinton should be ashamed of the attacks on civilians

   ADMITTEDLY, the line separating the justifiable from the inexcusable
   in NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia is not clear. But wherever it is, we
   crossed it this week.
   We got into this nasty little war to save innocent civilians in
   Kosovo. Now we are punishing innocent civilians in Serbia.
   This is no longer just the occasional bomb or missile gone
   accidentally astray, although that continues as well; an 8-year-old
   boy and his 5-year-old sister died Thursday when NATO bombed their
   home in a Belgrade suburb. Now, however, such accidents occur in the
   context of a cynical, calculated campaign by NATO to victimize the
   entire civilian population -- to make life such hell for them that
   they turn against their elected president, Slobodan Milosevic.
   By all accounts, it is not working. "Reduced to a `Caveman' Life,
   Serbs Don't Blame Milosevic," a Page 1 headline in the New York Times
   said Tuesday.
   The story quoted a Serbian woman who had worked for the American
   embassy in Belgrade. She is 64, and remembers the city being bombed by
   the Nazis and the Allies in World War II.
   ``If NATO wants to overturn the government, this is not the way to do
   it,'' she said. ``I am absolutely certain this will not make people
   revolt against their government -- they will revolt against whoever is
   doing this to them. NATO is terrorizing 6 million civilians in large
   cities in Yugoslavia. Making people's lives miserable is not solving
   any problem.''
   Other Serbs say the same: far from loosening Milosevic's hold on the
   nation, the bombing solidifies his power and makes it impossible for
   others to oppose him.
   Now, in the heaviest bombing yet, NATO has targeted Serbia's electric
   power grids, blacking out much of the country. That had been done
   before. But this time the damage is more devastating and less easily
   repaired. Without electricity, water pumping stations and filtration
   plants don't work. Hospitals cannot bathe patients or sterilize
   instruments. In private homes, scarce food is spoiling in freezers.
   Cold, dirty, thirsty and hungry, the Serbs are pleading with the
   United Nations and other international agencies to intervene.
   Officially, NATO still says it is bombing military targets. But this
   week senior military officials admitted they also want to damage the
   quality of everyday life for the people of Serbia.
   Bill Clinton should be ashamed. He began this war by promising that
   the bombing would be confined to military targets, and that ground
   troops would not be used. Steadily, little by little, those assurances
   are eroding. NATO has authorized 50,000 soldiers, calling them
   ``peacekeepers.'' Obviously they could also fight.
   Clinton and other NATO leaders are frustrated that the air war hasn't
   succeeded, and they are stung by criticism that they undermined its
   effectiveness by taking ground war off the table. Now, they are
   putting it back on.
   At the same time, they are intensifying the bombing. NATO now has
   1,000 planes over Yugoslavia, about 700 of them ours. The bombing goes
   around the clock, up to 500 missions a day. Thursday it began to hit
   suburbs around Belgrade.
   This week also brought the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic as a war
   criminal, which he surely is. But whatever impact that might have had
   on Serb civilians is overwhelmed by their conviction that NATO is
   committing war crimes against them.
   This war has taken a subtle but sure turn for the worse. President
   Clinton's earlier denials that we were at war with the Serbian people
   apparently are ``no longer operative,'' as Richard Nixon would have
   put it. We are destroying Yugoslavia, little by little, day by day.
   Our side began this war with a moral imperative. This week we lost it,
   somewhere in the skies over Belgrade.

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