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It was claimed that with a bombing campaign, the Kosovars would be protected from Milosevic and it would be timely enough to prevent a massacre that was supposed to be around the corner.
- Yet, even from the start of the campaign, critics have pointed out that bombing would be incompatible with humanitarian concerns.
- Since then, we have actually seen that the bombing has not helped, and if anything, has made the long term situation even worse, from a serious situation to a humanitarian catastrophe.
- It prompted Milosevic to start intensifying his atrocities on the Kosovars, rather than reducing it as NATO had claimed it would.
- This increased appalling crackdown in turn led to a huge influx of refugees in neighboring countries, which were reaching their limit in ability to cope.
Aid groups had been forced out of Kosovo due to the increased conflict but humanitarian relief was still being sent with many groups trying to respond to calls of relief aid in the open, cold refugee camps on the Kosovo borders with Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro. The effects on children this conflict has had and the traumas they face is another very disturbing aspect. So too has been the systematic rape that the Serb forces used during the conflict. As Human Rights Watch research shows, "rape and other forms of sexual violence were used in Kosovo in 1999 as weapons of war and instruments of systematic ethnic cleansing."
As NATO bombing reached more densely populated civilian areas of Serbia, such as Belgrade, Serbian civilian casualties increased, especially when weapons such as cluster bombs had been used. Many Serbs rallied under Milosevic (including previously opposing democratic activists). The stability in the region deteriorated as the various neighboring regions started to feel the strain of the mass exodus of people -- which also hasn't helped peace for the long run.
In the first month of bombing alone, there has been more destruction by NATO than by the Nazi German occupation of 1941 to 1944 in Yugoslavia.
However, as this report from NewsWeek reveals, about 11 months after the bombing stopped, most of the claims of surgical military strikes were wrong and raises questions about what was bombed (civilian targets):
"According to a suppressed Air Force report obtained by NEWSWEEK, the number of targets verifiably destroyed was a tiny fraction of those claimed: 14 tanks, not 120; 18 armored personnel carriers, not 220; 20 artillery pieces, not 450. Out of the 744 "confirmed" strikes by NATO pilots during the war, the Air Force investigators, who spent weeks combing Kosovo by helicopter and by foot, found evidence of just 58." -- From "The Kosovo Cover-up" by John Barry And Evan Thomas, May 15, 2000.
So, as well as the NATO strategy having so far been completely contrary to the stated goals of President Clinton, the NATO strategy has in some ways actually helped Milosevic in his campaigns, by:
- reducing or destroying any democratic opposition to Milisovic in Serbia (as many activists have been silenced, or even rallied to the call of Milosevic against NATO).
- destroying much of Kosovo through bombing to the point that it would take such a long time to rebuild that there is not much immediate likelihood that many displaced Kosovars would want to return -- which is what Milosevic wanted.
- giving excuses to Milosevic
- for an increased crackdown on Serbian opposition media as well, such as the famous Belgrade B92 radio station
- to crack down on any Ethnic Muslim Albanian saying that they are terrorists and with no ground troops from NATO from the beginning the Serb crackdown has been ruthless and unfortunately very effective.
As this article suggests, more people have been killed on average per day since NATO began strikes on March 24, than since when Serbia and the KLA went to war in February 1998.
In many countries in Europe, including in some NATO nations, opposition to the bombing had steadily increased during the campaign.
By the beginning of May, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had already run out of money due to sufficient funds not being made available by many European governments. It is interesting to note that the UN has been portrayed ineffective many times by the US and some European countries (and others). The effect has been that the yearly contributions that each nation must make has been cut back from some crucial countries such as the US, UK etc and then they are the first to complain at how ineffective they are. For nations such as US and UK, the UN is also an obstacle for their foreign policies, as we have seen throughout this web site and the UN is constantly by-passed and undermined to achieve their own agendas. Reducing funds and payments is one way to keep the UN down, so to speak.
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