It is certainly true that innocent civilianswere killed in Kosovo both before and afterthe NATO bombing.
New York Times
estimated that, as of the end of May 1999,4,600 ethnic Albanians had been killed inKosovo by Serbian forces since the NATObombing commenced on March 24.
Andmany ethnic Albanians fleeing Kosovoadmitted that NATO air strikes were whattriggered the Serbian backlash of ethniccleansing. As one refugee explained, “It’s likethis: The Serbs can’t fight NATO, so nowthey are after us.”
In addition, an unknown number of eth-nic Albanians (and Serbian civilians) inKosovo were killed, not by Serbian forces, butas a result of NATO air strikes, includingwhat appears to have been the indiscriminateuse of anti-personnel cluster bombs.(Moreover, many Serbian civilians, victims of “collateral damage,” were killed duringNATO’s bombing of Yugoslavian cities.)The death of noncombatants in wartimeis lamentable. Unfortunately, civilian deathsare an inescapable part of warfare. War is aninherently brutal enterprise and has beenespecially so during the last 200 years.Modern warfare erased the distinction that,in the era before industrialization, national-ism, and conscript armies, had delineatedcivilians from combatants. During WorldWar I, for example, the Allied naval blockadesought to force Germany’s capitulation bystarving its civilian population. In World WarII, the United States and Britain had noqualms about deliberately inflicting wide-spread casualties among innocent civiliansby conducting indiscriminate terror bomb-ing against German and Japanese cities. Thatthe end—crushing Hitler and Japan’s mili-tarists—may have justified the means doesnot change the fact that civilians of cities likeDresden, Tokyo, and Hiroshima were dead.There is evidence suggesting that what theClinton administration and NATO adver-tised as an air war against Yugoslavia’s mili-tary capabilities was really a war of attritionagainst the Serbian people to get them toforce Milosevic to do what the West wanted.The U.S. Air Force commander in charge of the Kosovo campaign, Lt. Gen. MichaelShort, admitted that NATO was trying to domore than just hurt the Yugoslav military.The larger goal was to break the will of theSerbian people and make ordinary Serbs somiserable and fearful that they would forceMilosevic to pull out of Kosovo. NATO plan-ners, the general explained, hoped that Serbswould react to the economic devastation of their country in the following way: “If youwake up in the morning and you have nopower to your house and no gas to your stoveand the bridge you take to work is down andwill be lying in the Danube for the next 20years, I think you begin to ask, ‘Hey, Slobo,what’s this all about? How much more of thisdo we have to withstand?’ And at some point,you make the transition from applaudingSerb machismo against the world to thinkingwhat your country is going to look like if thiscontinues.”
The Kosovo Conflict: A TypicalSecessionist War
The war that had been taking place inKosovo prior to the NATO bombing was aparticularly brutal form of modern conflict: acounterinsurgency campaign by a sovereigngovernment, Yugoslavia, against a guerrillaforce, the KLA. In counterinsurgencies, civil-ians inescapably become targets because theguerrillas draw their manpower, material sus-tenance, and political support from the pop-ulation in whose name they fight. Insurgentforces often deliberately provoke the authori-ties into harsh reprisals against their owncivilian allies to strengthen domestic supportfor the insurgency and to gain outside sym-pathy and support for their cause. From early1998 until the commencement of the NATObombing, the KLA engaged in such tactics of provocation in an attempt to trigger NATOintervention on behalf of the guerrillas. TheClinton administration was explicitly warnedby the U.S. intelligence community of theKLA’s ulterior motives.
New York Times
reported, the civilwar in Kosovo between the KLA and the
The Clintonadministrationwas explicitlywarned by the U.S.intelligence com-munity of theKLA’s ulteriormotives.