Lesson of 1999 Bombing of Serbia Ignored in the West

In Belgrade on March 24, Serbian minister Nikola Selakovic and Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, laid a wreath at a memorial to children killed in the illegal 1999 NATO terror bombing of what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The ceremony and the anniversary of the attack went predictably unmentioned in America.

On March 24, 1999, the North Atlantic bloc, without UN’s authorization, started bombing Yugoslavia in gross violation of the fundamental principles of international lawand UN Charter. The US and NATO bombed Yugoslavian cities , including civilian infrastructure for 78 days. pic.twitter.com/T7IsAuTT1I

— sonja van den ende (@SonjaEnde) March 24, 2023

The remarks of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic were also ignored in the West. “24 years ago, the modern international law finally died,” Vucic said during a commemorative event in Sombor, the first city to be bombed by NATO and President Bill Clinton.

“Nothing worse could happen in the world than what was done here, to a small country, which was guilty only of seeking to make its own decisions, and to be free. As such it didn’t appeal to those powers which destroyed the old international order in 1989/90 and created a new one in which only they have the final say in everything.”

The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in its Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, mentions numerous war crimes perpetuated against the people of Yugoslavia, now Serbia. The report documents the use of depleted uranium (Serbia is among the countries with the highest cancer mortality in the world), the wanton use of illegal cluster munitions, and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including a passenger train at the Grdelica Gorge in December 1999.

The UN report concludes,

that the NATO forces deliberately attacked civilian infrastructure targets (and that such attacks were unlawful), deliberately or recklessly attacked the civilian population, and deliberately or recklessly caused excessive civilian casualties in disregard of the rule of proportionality by trying to fight a “zero casualty” war for their own side.

On this day in 1999 #US-led #NATO started illegal bombing of #Yugoslavia
It lasted 78 days
1700+ civilians killed, incl 400 children
10,000 people seriously injured
Infrastructure, bridges, hospitals, schools, cultural monuments were destroyed or damaged
Still no #ICC prosecution pic.twitter.com/PyEVS8nG2h

— MalinkaTanya P (@Malinka1102) March 24, 2023

A decade after the terror bombing, Stephen Zunes wrote,

The 11-week bombing campaign resulted in the widespread destruction of Yugoslavia’s civilian infrastructure, the killing of many hundreds of civilians, and—as a result of bombing chemical factories, the use of depleted uranium ammunition and more—caused serious environmental damage. Almost as many Yugoslav civilians died from NATO bombing than did Kosovar Albanian civilians from Serb forces prior to the onset of the bombing. A number of human rights groups that condemned Serbian actions in Kosovo also criticized NATO attacks that, in addition to the more immediate civilian casualties, endangered the health and safety of millions of people by disrupting water supplies, sewage treatment, and medical services.

Instead of holding NATO and the USG responsible for the murder of innocent civilians, the United Nations went after Slobodan Milošević, the Serbian president. Milošević stood accused of a laundry list of crimes, including genocide and unlawful deportation of Albanians in Kosovo. He died in prison (some believe he was poisoned) before a verdict was reached.

“In the days following the death of Slobodan Milosevic, every newspaper made sure to find him guilty of charges that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) could not prove in court,” writes Louis Proyect. The demonization campaign required “a false dichotomy” to portray Milošević as

the mastermind of a genocidal plot rather than simply one actor among many in a nasty civil war. Throughout the 1990s, self-described radicals like Mark Danner or State Department liberals like Michael Ignatieff were consumed with the need to vilify Milosevic as some kind of awful combination of Hitler and Stalin.

Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Kim Jung-un, Osama bin Laden, Moammar Gaddafi, and now Vladimir Putin, all are routinely compared to Hitler. “We repeatedly have seen how ‘rogue nations’ are designated and demonized,” notes historian Michael Parenti. “What they really had in common was that each was charting a somewhat independent course of self-development or somehow was not complying with the dictates of the global free market and the U.S. national security state.”

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