Kosovars Gained Autonomy with Fewer Losses than Expected (RE: Latest on Kosovo death toll

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at yale.edu
Thu Nov 11 12:19:41 PST 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-lbo-talk at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-lbo-talk at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of Seth Ackerman
> Sent: Thursday, November 11, 1999 1:30 PM
> Nathan's version of events has its own compelling logic to it.
> NATO spent the war downplaying stories of mass murder in Kosovo. Its
> "official estimate" of 3,200 dead dominated the Western media at
> the time --
> "Not Too Many Dead," the headlines read. "Things in Kosovo Not That Bad".
> Then a State Department official came along and released a high estimate,
> which led some to expect more bodies than there were.
> Does anyone else remember last spring that way?

I remember all of us not having a lot of information on exact deaths and a lot of folks on this list downplaying the deaths before intervention and hyping the deaths after intervention - blaming NATO for those deaths. As for the media and official NATO estimates, it was a mixed bag as the attached article noted.

The 800,000 refugees was in the news and on TV. That was what was motivating most public appeals and response to the war.

Arguing that it was NATO that hyped mass murders, when official estimates were reported at the time otherwise, just ignores that fact that many oppponents of intervention were themselves hyping deaths in order to condemn NATO's "failed" and "counterproductive" policy. There was hyping on both sides.

Just to list a few comments during the war by anti-interventions (pulled from antiwar.com):

"Milosevic and his Serb forces are committing atrocities. But bombing won't help. It can only make things worse, and that is already evident. It is creating more victims, on both sides." - Howard Zinn

"There has been a humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo in the past year, overwhelmingly attributable to Yugoslav military forces...The US has chosen a course of action which, as it explicitly recognizes, escalates atrocities and violence." - Noam Chomsky

"The catastrophic effects of the air war against Serbia subvert the Clinton Administration's declared humanitarian intentions. Instead of tying Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's hands, the bombing encourages Serbian nationalists for whom no price is too great to pay to hold on to Kosovo, the symbol of Serbian national identity...The bombing has left the Kosovars far worse off than before the NATO offensive." -- THE NATION

To the extent that the war led to fewer atrocities than expected, it defies the predictions of boththe left and right who hyped prospective casualties. As noted, the sober war-planners at NATO who put out those estimates of 3200 Kosovar deaths appear to have been closer to reality than the sharpest opponents and supporters of intervention.

--Nathan Newman

> >
> > From: Agence France-Presse
> > Monday, April 19, 1999
> >
> > WASHINGTON, April 18 (AFP) - The scale of Serb atrocities in
> > Kosovo may be much greater than previously thought, with the possible
> > death toll running into tens of thousands, a senior US official
> > indicated Sunday.
> >
> > "We have upwards of 100,000 men that we cannot account for," in
> > Kosovo, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, David Scheffer,
> > told Fox News Sunday.
> >
> > He said that NATO estimates of some 3,200 deaths in Kosovo were
> > "very low."
> >
> >
> > --Nathan Newman

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