My Opposition to the NATO Bombings
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Leon Chame - 2008

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avgust 20, 2008

















My Opposition to the US/NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia

 Leon Chame


The cause of your anger is that I still refuse to join in the media press campaign over Serb atrocities that is being used to justify NATO's war against Yugoslavia. You are outraged that I do not accept uncritically, without factual substantiation, all the reports of massacres and rapes presented by government spokesmen and the media. You object to my use of the word "alleged"—which, by the way, is the standard qualifier used in legal proceedings until a case has been proven—in referring to crimes attributed to the Yugoslav government.

As anyone who has followed my analysis of the war on this website knows very well, the I have never denied that Serb forces were guilty of some atrocities against Kosovan Albanians. However, in opposing the US/NATO propaganda campaign, I have repeatedly made the following critical points:

- Prior to the initiation of the bombing campaign on March 24, 1999, the total number of people killed in Kosovo, Albanian and Serb, was in the area of 2,000. These deaths occurred in the context of a civil war between the Yugoslav government and separatist guerrillas. However deplorable the tactics employed by the Yugoslav authorities, they were no more brutal than those developed and used by the United States, Britain, and France in their own counterinsurgency operations.

- The large-scale atrocities began after the US/NATO forces started bombing Yugoslavia. The causal link between the bombing and the subsequent atrocities is indisputable. The mayhem and killing that followed the launching of the bombing campaign was entirely foreseeable. Having chosen war as its preferred policy option, the United States bears immense responsibility for the tragedy that ensued.

- The reports of the American and West European media during the war grossly and irresponsibly exaggerated the actual scale of the killings inside Kosovo by Serb forces. The comparisons between Serbia and Nazi Germany, between the Kosovan civil war and the Holocaust, were based on a distortion of history and cover-up of the political context of the violence in Kosovo.

I do not, as you claim, "blindly" reject reports of Serb atrocities. I certainly do question the veracity of the reports that are generated by a media that has been caught in lies again and again. Only yesterday, the deaths of British soldiers in Kosovo were immediately attributed to Serbian mines. Later, it emerged that the cause of their deaths was an unexploded British-made cluster bomb.

The initial false report was in keeping with a policy followed throughout the war by US/NATO propagandists: Whenever remotely possible, place the blame for loss of human life on the Serbs. Given the modus operandi of Mr. Jamie Shea, I needn't apologize for my skepticism toward US/NATO allegations. However, even if one accepts without reservation the pro-war media's reports of mass graves, it is clear that the number of Albanians murdered by Serb military or para-military forces is only a fraction of what was previously claimed by the media. While the media and high-ranking government officials—including President Clinton and Defense Secretary Cohen—inflamed public opinion by suggesting that the number of Albanians murdered was in the area of 100,000, if not higher, it would appear (based on the current media reports) that the number killed was closer to 10,000.

It is not difficult to anticipate your rejoinder: "You are simply quibbling over numbers. Ten thousand dead is a terrible human toll." Indeed it is, but it was not sufficient—in the opinion of Clinton, Blair and other NATO leaders—to sustain broad public support for the massive aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. For the public to accept the destruction wrought by US/NATO bombs, it had to be convinced that the war was undertaken to prevent another Holocaust. The fabrication of the death toll was an essential component of a propaganda campaign which sought to disorient public opinion, distort the background of the war, and conceal the real political aims and material interests underlying the decision to go to war against Yugoslavia.

What separates us politically, goes far beyond our different assessments of the scale of atrocities in Kosovo or even of the origins of the war. I proceed on the basis of entirely different historical perspectives. Unlike yourself, I assign to imperialism absolutely no progressive social and historical mission. I do not look to the Pentagon to provide answers to the problems of the Balkans or any other part of the world. Rather, I adhere to the essential precept that the fate of mankind depends upon the development of the ones political self-consciousness and capacity for independent political action.