Spotting the bonfire at the end of the tunnel

By Vin Suprynowicz
web posted December 13, 1999

The skeptics were right.

The NATO press briefings insisted it was vital that the United States and her allies launch an air war against Serbia, to stop the Serbian genocide of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. (Just think of the czar and the kaiser invading the United States in 1876 to halt war criminal U.S. Grant's genocide of the Sioux.)

Why, the Serbs had already murdered more than 10,000 Muslim Albanians, the NATO press briefing officers declared -- with estimates sometimes soaring to as many as 100,000 bodies in the "mass graves."

Of course, it now turns out it was all a lie.

"United Nations and European Union investigators in Kosovo have all but completely confirmed that NATO's estimates of the number of Kosovar Albanians being slaughtered by Serbian forces during the propaganda buildup to the war were grossly overblown," wrote Alan Bock of the Orange County Register recently. "The latest evidence suggests that somewhat fewer than 3,000 Kosovars were killed ... and that much of the slaughter took place after the NATO bombing campaign had begun."

Nor were these untruths merely incidental. They went to the heart of the campaign to drum up support among an understandably skeptical American public for military intervention ... in a forbidding, isolated, mountainous region which neither the Germans in the 1940s nor the Turks before them were ever able to successfully pacify, even with enormously greater allocations of manpower (and far more ruthless tactics) than Americans are ever likely to knowingly endorse.

"A virtually constant drumbeat of NATO briefings during the war revolved around aerial photographs of alleged mass graves 'reliably' suspected to hold the bodies of hundreds of Kosovars murdered by Serbs," Bock continues. But in subsequent investigations "No 'mass graves' at all have been documented. ... In short, US and NATO officials repeatedly lied to us."

Now, no one is saying the slaughter of 3,000 civilians is acceptable (any more than was the conquest of the Sioux.) But "U.N. and EU investigators now estimate that between 3,000 and 5,000 Serbs, many of them civilians, were killed by the NATO bombing attacks on Yugoslavia," Mr. Bock continues. "And an unknown and perhaps unknowable number of the Kosovar Albanian casualties" were also caused by the NATO bombing -- a cure quite possibly worse than the disease.

And that was just for starters. After Slobodan Milosevic agreed to Bill Clinton's terms for halting the air war -- terms far more favorable to Milosevic than those he was offered before the bombing -- it then became necessary for America and her allies to send in ground troops to "police the peace," of course.

This has mainly consisted of attempting to disarm the Kosovars -- a step which would render them far more vulnerable to the next genocide, which will doubtless begin as soon as we leave.

About the best thing that can be said of this attempt by United States forces to violate the founding principle of this nation (that "All Men ... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," among them "the right to keep and bear arms") is that it appears to have failed as dismally as everything else we've tried there.

The news is now full of vicious reprisals by the Muslim ethnic Albanians -- the oppressed minority which we occupied Kosovo in order to protect, let us recall -- wreaking their own murderous retribution on the local Serbs.

It appears, for instance, that 63-year-old Serbian engineering professor Dragan Basic's mother-in-law became ill last week, on the night of local Albanian Independence Day celebrations -- requiring him to take the chance of loading her and his wife into the family car and attempting to thread a path through crowds of drunken Albanian revelers toward the closest hospital.

When Basic and his family were recognized as Serbs, they were dragged from their car and beaten. The car was turned over and set afire. Professor Basic was shot. Lighted firecrackers were shoved into the mouths of the terrified women. When a U.N. patrol car approached and the driver rolled down his window to ask what had happened, he was punched in the face. The crowd of more than 1,000 then started to rock his vehicle, too.

Finally, U.N. soldiers arrived (though the AP reports "None had riot gear, tear gas, shields -- nothing at all for trying to control a mob of 1,000 or more" ... just as our boys in Mogadishu had no tanks.)

The U.N. soldiers finally held the crowd back so the three Serb victims could be loaded into an ambulance -- though the high-spirited partyers threw more lighted firecrackers into the back of the vehicle as it pulled away, many clapping as though they were "at a football match," according to one blue beret.

American officers faced shouts of 'Yankee go home!' " the AP reports.

The mob that killed Professor Basic and left his wife and stepmother in critical condition "has prompted soul-searching here over whether the West ... underestimated the cost of securing Kosovo's peace," writes the AP's Danica Kirka from Pristina.

Oh, good time to ask.

Once more now: Why are we in the Balkans? What makes us think we can clear up a stew of ethnic hatreds that's been festering for 600 years?

And what shall we do next -- bomb the Albanians?

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His new book, "Send in the Waco Killers" is available by dialing 1-800-244-2224; or via web site

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