Yugoslavia: The American Way of War

"Destroying the Village to Save It"

Revolutionary Worker #1003, April 25, 1999

Pristina, Kosovo, after midnight, April 6--In the darkness of night, three NATO air attacks hit at the heart of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. The first wave lasted 30 minutes. At least 20 NATO bombs and missiles hit the downtown area, according to Agence France Presse--completely leveling many homes, over 30 stores, the central post office, and an office of social services. At least 10 people were killed, including a family of Turkish nationality Kosovars gathered in a basement.

NATO spokespeople insisted on CNN that the armed forces of Yugoslavia had themselves blown up Pristina. When this lie fell apart, NATO Air Commodore David Wilby, NATO's military spokesman, admitted only that one NATO bomb had hit homes in Pristina, saying it had been "seduced off the target." The U.S. and NATO justify their war on Yugoslavia saying they are saving Kosovo's people--but it is clear that they, themselves, have targeted Kosovo's capital.

Aleksinac, Serbia, 10 p.m., April 6--Residents were close to bedtime in this small coal mining town of 20,000, a hundred miles south of the Yugoslav capital Belgrade when they heard the sound of planes, flying low, and then explosions. One laser-guided bomb hit an apartment complex. A western reporter said that the building became "smoking heaps of brick and tile, with body parts visible and pools of blood." Local authorities said that at least 12 people were killed, and nearly 50 others were wounded.

In Brussels, NATO air commander David Wilby said, "It is possible that one of our weapons fell short of the target." Clinton said that such "errors" should be considered inevitable. Stana Stojanovic, a retired woman whose neighbors lay dead in the rubble, said, "The people responsible for this should be tried....We will not be slaves."

The Juzna-Morava River, Yugoslavia, April 12--The train was heading south toward Greece, from Yugoslavia's capital, Belgrade. Its passengers, surrounded by their belongings, were already worrying about those they had left behind and about the uncertain future ahead of them.*BO0*

A U.S. F-15a swept in low, seeking its target. Its two-man crew released a AGM-130 bomb and then guided it by video image to a direct hit on the train, as it crossed the Juzna-Morava river. After seeing they had hit a passenger train, the plane's crew circled around--and hit it again. Yugoslav authorities said that at least 10 people died on the train and at least 16 were seriously injured.

NATO's General Wesley Clark said the pilot had targeted the bridge and then returned "to accomplish his mission." Asked why the pilot hit the train twice, Clark said it was "an uncanny accident." The Pentagon said they had destroyed 11 bridges in three weeks of attacks. They have isolated people throughout the Balkans from each other, and severely cut down the flow of food and goods in this poor mountainous region.

The farming areas around Djakovica, southwest Kosovo, April 13--The tiny village of Meja was hit hard by bombs, according to a Agence France Presse reporter on the scene. Twenty dead lay in the bomb craters, as the killer aircraft flew on. It was the second attack west of Djakovica that morning.

About 90 minutes later, an even more intense NATO attack hit a convoy of as many as 1,000 refugees on the rural dirt road leading south out of Djakovica. Some accounts suggest that a second convoy was also hit further south on the same road. It is not known where these Albanian Kosovars were heading--on foot, on their tractors and horse-drawn carts. It is not clear if they were leaving their homes or returning to them. L.A. Times reporter Paul Watson wrote, "The Kosovo Albanian survivors tell of jets dive-bombing, circling and then bombing again as tractors and horses pulling wagon loads of terrified refugees tried to escape." Over 80 people died, and at least that many were seriously wounded.

NATO spokesmen claimed that the Serbian forces had hit these civilians--using their own planes or artillery. Spokesmen insisted that NATO warplanes fly too high for the victims on the ground to see them.

These stories were quickly challenged. The low-flying air attacks fit the profile and tactics of U.S. A-10 "Warthogs." Reporters on the scene found extensive evidence of NATO shrapnel in the craters. Paul Watson remarked that the air of the region was thick with NATO war planes that day, "With such concentrated NATO air traffic, it's difficult to see how a Yugoslavian jet could sneak in and attack the refugee column just for Belgrade's propaganda purposes."

NATO spokesman Jamie Shea then acknowledged that a U.S. pilot had attacked a single vehicle--a civilian tractor pulling two flatbeds--north of Djakovica. Shea refused to acknowledge any NATO attacks on civilians south of Djakovica (where the major civilian deaths occurred). Describing the actions of the U.S. bomber, Shea said, "He dropped his bomb in good faith, as you would expect a trained pilot from a democratic NATO country to do." Paul Warner writes in the L.A. Times, "NATO's acknowledgment Thursday that one of its pilots had accidentally bombed a column of Kosovo Albanian refugees doesn't begin to explain how scores of people were killed in what survivors say was a series of air strikes."

Brutality with a Bodyguard of Lies

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it."
U.S. officer justifying his attack on a Vietnamese village

"There is nothing about the current policy of bombing Serbian forces that will either guarantee democracy for Serbia or protect the Albanians who are still being treated horribly by Milosevic's forces. ...The humanitarian concerns expressed are the merest hypocrisy since what really counts is the expression of U.S. power. What I find most distressing is that destruction is being wrought from the air along with a fastidiousness articulated about the loss of American life that is positively revolting. Clinton knows well that Americans will not tolerate the loss of life for Americans. Yet he can destroy Yugoslavian lives with impunity from the safety of the ultimate in modern technology and air power, with American pilots and bombers sanitizing their horror with the illusion of safety and distance. When will the smaller, lesser, weaker peoples realize that this America is to be resisted at all costs, not pandered or given in to naively?"
Professor Edward W. Said

It takes a willful blindness to history for some people to convince themselves that the U.S. attack on Yugoslavia "might somehow do some good." War waged by the U.S. government has always come wrapped in words about "democracy," "human rights," "saving lives" and "stopping aggressors." But from the days when General Sheridan burned the winter encampments of the Lakota people, to the mass murder of Filipinos during the U.S. conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the century, to the heartless nuking of two civilian Japanese cities in World War 2, to the "carpet bombings" of Indochina, to the bombings and embargo of Iraq--the U.S. ruling class has always pushed out the borders of its empire, and defended them, with the most ruthless warfare.

This "American way of war" has evolved into a high-tech swarm technique of "death from above"--where the victim is hidden from the killer by the high altitude of the "targeting pod" with its airborne video camera.

When the NATO warplanes hit a heating plant in New Belgrade on April 3, people there asked themselves, "How will General Clark explain this as a `military target'?" They underestimate the Pentagon's ability at "double-speak." Even the Pentagon talk about "unfortunate collateral damage" (supposedly accidental damage to civilians while pursuing military targets) is a lie. In the American Way of War, the "punishment" of civilians has always been a "military target." The nighttime terrors and daytime hunger of Yugoslavian civilians is certainly part of U.S. war calculations now.

NATO has now conducted over 1,700 bombing runs in three weeks of war. Yugoslavia is being systematically "ground down." Their industrial factories, bridges, communications, railroads, highways, fuel, even hospitals have been flattened--along with the key military installations. NATO war planners have requested an additional 300 U.S. warplanes, to bring the air battle force up to more than 1,000. The Pentagon is preparing to call up the air and army reserves of the U.S. What good will these new forces bring to the people of the Balkans?

NATO has launched this war claiming to defend the Albanian Kosovars--but it has intended all along to reach an accommodation with the Yugoslav government. And it will betray the Kosovars if that proves useful, as it betrayed the Bosnian Muslims in the Dayton Agreement.

The U.S. has entered the fighting of the Balkans to prevent its NATO allies, Greece and Turkey, from being drawn in--and fighting each other. The U.S. wants to impose "stability" in the Balkans, so that it can successfully pursue its "great game" for the control of Caspian oil--and so that Turkey can play its assigned role for the U.S. in that grab for power and resources. And the U.S. wants to make sure that NATO remains the framework in which the European imperialists, especially Germany, pursue their strategic goals under U.S. command--restructuring Eastern Europe to suit them and their interests. In short, the U.S. is waging war in the Balkans in order to better exploit and bully people and nations across broad stretches of the planet. Nothing good came come from a U.S. victory in this war.

U.S./NATO Hands off the Balkans! Stop the Bombing!

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