The biggest lie has been the one unspoken: the reality that the entire effort of invading Yugoslavia had nothing directly to do with Yugoslavia or the Kosovo problem.
The truth is that any credible and sustainable (ie: medium-duration) catastrophe which would divert the media and political attention away from the serious charges facing the Clinton White House would have been acceptable. Of course, only a military conflict would fit the bill: only under circumstances of "war" can the President credibly expect that divisive domestic issues be put aside. But if this conflict has been sparked by several big lies, as well as playing on the massive ignorance of Western societies as to the history of the region, it has been sustained by an ongoing litany of lies on the part of the Clinton and Blair admini- strations and by NATO.
This is not a comment made idly; this writer has been covering international security affairs for almost four decades and has never seen such a scale and audacity of lying as is now the case. Even the Soviets, the masters of disinformation, rarely seemed to match this current atmosphere of "say anything to get through the day".
One case in point was the bombing by NATO aircraft of four Kosovo refugee convoys in one day during the week of April 11-17, 1999. The attention focused around one of the convoys the one which Yugoslav authorities first reached, and filmed, and to which they brought journalists later which at first NATO denied attacking.
NATO authorities at first said that it could have been attacked by Yugoslav Super Galeb fighters, flying low.
Gradually, however, the NATO spokesmen had to retreat, a step at a time, from that position, although always maintaining that "some Yugoslav air-craft" could have been in the area and added to the carnage. NATO released video and audio tapes which they later admitted were, in fact, not connected with the incident at all. Then they released stories about how difficult it was to identify targets from 15,000 feet. Another minor piece of deception, as we shall see.
This writer has, however, heard the voice traffic between the initial strike air-craft and his EC-130 Hercules AWACS.
This is what happened:
The four convoys were made of Kosovars who were returning to their homes in the Šakovica area of Western Kosovo-Metohija, not far from the Albanian border. They were moving away from the Al-banian border, not attempting to "flee" from the "ethnic cleansing". Given that the Clinton Administration has made it clear that Kosovars cannot be allowed to re-settle their lands without NATO supervision, this phase of the bombing war was not going as planned. The continuation of the NATO strategy depended upon the continuing horror and tragedy of the refugees fleeing into Albania and Macedonia.
A USAF F-16 fighter was deployed to the area of the convoy in question. The following is the transcript of the mission radio traffic:
Pilot: "Good day, I am in position 80. No movement underneath. Please information on red MiGs [jargon for Yugoslav combat aircraft]."
AWACS: "Hello Charlie Bravo. Mother here. Patrol northwest direction Prizren-Šakovica. There are no red MiGs in the air."
Pilot: "OK, I am going to 3,000ft."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. You get reinforcements in about 10 minutes. There will be something interesting south of Šakovica."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. I am coming out of the clouds, still nothing in sight."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. Continue to the north, course 280."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. I am keeping 3,000 feet. Under me columns of cars, some kind of tractors. What is it? Requesting instructions."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. Do you see tanks? Repeat, where are the tanks?"
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. I see tractors. I suppose the Reds did not camouflage tanks as tractors."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. What kind of strange convoy is this? What, civilians? Damn, this is all the Serbs doing. Destroy the target."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. What should I destroy? Tractors? Ordinary cars? Repeat, I do not see any tanks. Request additional instructions."
AWACS: "Mother to Charlie Bravo. This is a military target, a completely legitimate military target. Destroy the target. Repeat, destroy the target."
Pilot: "Charlie Bravo to Mother. OK, copy. Launching."
NATO spokesmen, including the po-litically ambitious NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark, said: "We may never know what really happened." Clearly, that is not true.
5. The Mind-set of Racism and Lies