DISCLAIMER: Lately, this article has been receiving renewed traffic and some criticism I found worth addressing given the sensitive nature of the subject matter. Some have seen the article as apologism for Serbian nationalism and whitewashing of war crimes/genocide. Although it does not deny these crimes, some have criticized this article as de facto denial by not discussing Serb crimes. The point is not that there were not Serbian war crimes or genocidal acts, or that the Yugoslav policy towards Kosovo was a perfect one. Kosovars had many real grievances with their treatment by Yugoslavia and Serbia, and many crimes were committed in wartime, especially by paramilitary groups such as the Scorpions and the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska. To deny the hard evidence – usually the bodies of victims – is to deny reality.
However, as the article demonstrates, the crimes of the non-Serb parties are routinely whitewashed, as is NATO intervention. Further, the article illustrates Western media’s exaggeration of Serb crimes. To point out these exaggerations is not to deny that any Serbian crimes were ever committed. Milosevic (himself a political opportunist, instrumental in the first phase of the Yugoslav counterrevolution) was and is frequently compared to Hitler as the ‘mastermind’ behind the Bosnian and Kosovar genocides. In fact, the International Court of Justice ruled that although genocide occurred against Bosniaks, Serbia itself “has not committed genocide”, “conspired to commit genocide”, and “has not been complicit in genocide”, although it did violate “the obligation to prevent genocide”. [i] Similarly, a U.N court found that although it committed many crimes, Serbia was not responsible for genocide in Kosovo. [ii] The article has been edited to rectify any typos, mistakes and to make some small clarifications in order to prevent any future misunderstandings in what is supposed to be, at its core, a criticism of NATO policy more than anything else. Finally, it has come to my attention that many other websites have been reposting this article. The only one which has had my permission to do so is CounterPunch – any others are not endorsed whatsoever by me and I am reaching out to them to have them removed.
Belgrade, Serbia burning in April, 1999 during the NATO bombing campaign
On March 24th, 1999, NATO launched its 78-day round the clock aerial assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia without the approval of the United Nations Security Council. Over a thousand NATO warplanes delivered over 2,000 airstrikes in nearly 40,000 sorties, dropping over 20,000 bombs over the former Yugoslavia, killing thousands of civilian men, women, and children, as well as upwards of a thousand Yugoslav soldiers and police.   NATO employed weapons considered criminal by international law such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs.    The popular narrative is that is that the Western powers dropped these bombs out of humanitarian concern, but this claim falls apart once the distorted lens of Western saviourism is dropped and actual facts are presented. In truth, NATO intervention in Yugoslavia was predicated on the imperialist, colonialist economic and ideological interests of the NATO states, masquerading for the public as a humanitarian effort, that in fact served to dismantle the last remnant of socialism in Europe and recolonize the Balkans. This becomes apparent when the economic interests and actions of the NATO bloc in the decades leading up the breakup are analyzed, when what actually occurred during the intervention is further explored, and when the reality of life in the former Yugoslavia in the aftermath of the ‘humanitarian’ intervention is more closely examined. It becomes clear that the most suffering endured by the Yugoslav people since Nazi occupation was the result of the actions of NATO with the United States at its helm.
Chinese protester after NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade