NATO’s own experts: Bombing was a failure

Also: Cleveland’s Ku Klux Karma, and Detroit’s grand porno drawer

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In a story which has gone virtually unmentioned in the U.S., the London Daily Telegraph has reported in their July 22nd edition that a private preliminary review by NATO’s own experts found that the 78-day NATO bombing of Yugoslavia had “almost no military effect.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

NATO leaders would have us believe that the thousands of NATO bombing runs, targeting everything from military bases to civilian bridges to columns of Albanian refugees, were the primary cause of Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo.


Instead, NATO’s own experts privately conclude that the NATO bombing campaign “failed to damage the Yugoslav army,” that Belgrade’s 47,000 troops withdrew with their equipment virtually intact, and that the war ended for another reason entirely: because Russia withdrew their diplomatic support for the Belgrade regime and pressed Serbia to sign the Chernomyrdin/Ahtisaari accord.

The news gets worse.

Recall the equally-unreported fact that the Chernomyrdin/Ahtisaari agreement, which led to the current cease-fire, when compared to NATO’s “non-negotiable” Rambouillet proposal, represents major NATO concessions regarding the key terms of occupation:

Term Rambouillet Chernomyrdin/Ahtisaari
Area of occupation All of Yugoslavia Kosovo only
Administration NATO NATO + Russia under UN mandate
Kosovo independence Referendum vote Remains part of Yugoslavia
Disposition of KLA Not mentioned KLA to be disarmed

In all of the above respects, the current agreement much more closely resembles Belgrade’s pre-war negotiating position than NATO’s.

And now consider the most recent revelations concerning the Serbian war crimes committed between the onset of the bombings (which began after the failure of Rambouillet) and the cease-fire: possibly as many as 10,000 ethnic Albanians were killed in massacres committed by Serbian forces.

And according to NATO’s own experts, NATO’s bombing campaign did little to stop the killing.

Instead, as the slaughter went on virtually unaffected:

a) Between 1,200 and 2,000 more civilian casualties were added to the carnage, a total that will surely grow among the poorest and least-powerful of all nationalities as the region heads into winter missing much of its infrastructure

b) Serbian political opposition to Milosevic was essentially eliminated — and now, while protest has returned, Milosevic still has an intact military with which to retain power

c) wider conflict with Russia was dangerously countenanced, relations with China were greatly strained, and NATO credibility in many other countries was greatly reduced

d) thanks to the destruction of the Danube bridges, the economies of Romania, Bulgaria, and every other country in the region were and remain badly shaken, leading to even more future instability

e) international law, the NATO treaty, the UN charter, and the Geneva Conventions (which define the intentional bombing of civilian targets as a war crime) were violated by NATO itself and still the killing continued, right up until NATO agreed to terms it could have likely obtained before the bombings began.

NATO presents this to the world as a victory.

After an initial NATO military outlay of at least $10 billion for the bombing campaign, the European Union now reportedly estimates future costs of the war at as much as $25 billion to rebuild the local infrastructure, plus another $25 billion every year that NATO maintains its occupational forces.

These figures don’t include humanitarian aid, which Bill Clinton announced would be withheld from the civilians of Serbia, many of whom don’t even have clean water to drink, until they rise up and overthrow Milosevic, who still has his army.

All told, some European experts place the ultimate price tag for NATO’s Balkan strategy at $100 billion.

And still Milosevic is in power, ten thousand Kosovars are dead, the stabilization of Kosovo proceeds on terms largely set by Belgrade, and a lasting peace is nowhere in sight.

NATO presents this to the world as a victory.

None of this had to happen. As British diplomats concluded three weeks ago (and this space concluded in its first report on the region on April 12th), the key point where the crisis should have been averted was during the Dayton negotiations in 1995, when the enlightened West treated Milosevic as a fair broker and pointedly left the Kosovar Albanians out of the talks.

Worse, as the journal CounterPunch ( points out, NATO’s experts draw from this experience an unexpected lesson: that next time, since it’s so hard to hit military targets, the bombing strategy should include even more civilian targets (and therefore more war crimes), sooner.

Let that sink in for a minute, too.

What Serbian military and paramilitary forces did in Kosovo was criminal.

Too bad the world’s NATO supercop can’t figure out how to shoot at the bad guys.

The August 8th Los Angeles Times ( lists a chronology of major Serbian actions against Albanian Kosovars. The very first was apparently a “rampage” through the town of Kosovska Mitrovica — where ultimately 650 people were killed — beginning just three hours after the first NATO bombing.

The Times doesn’t mention it, but Kosovska Mitrovica is the town where the workers at the Trepca mine live.

This space has long noted numerous little-noted reports from mainstream sources indicating that the KLA originally coalesced as the result of a strike in the massive mining complex, and that control over the mines was once a key strategic concern.

And now it turns out that’s the very first place Serbian paramilitaries attacked.

Just thought it was worth mentioning …

It sure is great to hear that folks in my hometown of Cleveland are all outraged over plans for the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally. Apparently the good people of northeast Ohio consider themselves far beyond such primitive racial stereotyping, embarrassed that such a thing could occur in their fair city.

Good for them.

Just one thing here, however…

All you Clevelanders wearing Indians baseball caps? Take a good hard look at what you’re walking around with on top of your head.

Chief Wahoo, the buck-toothed, bug-eyed, feather-headed fire-engine red Sambo you take such pride in wearing is every bit as offensive and thoughtless as the little black guy they used to have on the label of Darkie toothpaste.

Seriously, can you possibly wear a Wahoo cap while protesting a Klan rally? Could you retain even a shred of credibility? If not, you shouldn’t be wearing them at all.

Now granted, maybe you don’t hear a lot of actual Indians complaining about the logo. But that’s because you don’t hear a lot of actual Indians, period. And just exactly whose fault is that, again?

If you love baseball, great. Me too. I’ve been a rabid Cleveland baseball fan my whole life and still never miss a game on TV. But loving the team and its tradition doesn’t justify the most offensive racial stereotype remaining in all of sports.

Besides, there’s a practical reason why Wahoo should be dumped: baseball is a game built on superstition as much as tradition. Every true baseball fan knows of the legendary “Curse Of The Bambino.” The Red Sox haven’t won a World Series since they let Babe Ruth go to the Yankees.

I’d like to suggest maybe Cleveland has something similar going on. Chief Wahoo arrived in 1948, the last year the team won the World Series. And they haven’t won a single title ever since.


Maybe it’s just Ku Klux Karma.

If you’re planning an exciting Vegas vacation this year, hold on. There’s a hot new gambling mecca you just gotta try: Detroit.

That’s right. The new $220,000,000.00 MGM Grand hotel and casino is now open in the heart of the Motor City. Which isn’t exactly the most enticing tourist spot, so city planners have surrounded the place with more security than Ted Nugent’s porno drawer. They’re hoping that now when you visit downtown Detroit, you’ll no longer feel like you’re taking your life in your hands. Your paycheck is another matter.

Actually, according to the papers, MGM’s hotel is open. The casino, however, is currently stashed in what was previously an Internal Revenue Service office building — and you know how exciting government buildings are — which MGM has reportedly decorated with enough shiny flashy thingies to give Bob Mackie a cerebral hemorrhage.

And this is going to revitalize downtown.

Not fixing the schools, filling the potholes, doing something about the forty-five thousand abandoned and condemned homes, and getting some actual industry to move in. Oh, no. Never mind all that. A casino is the answer. A casino is gonna save the city.

A casino in an old IRS office building.

Sure. That’s gonna work. Those big high-rolling jet setters who could go to Monte Carlo or the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands, why, they’re all gonna say hey, forget all that. I’m spending my spring break in an IRS building in Detroit.

Talk about a bad bet …

Bob Harris is a stand-up comedian, political writer, and syndicated radio humorist. His new book, Steal This Book And Get Life Without Parole, is now available from


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We have about a $170,000 funding gap and less than a week to go in our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign that ends Saturday. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

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