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

Brett Knowlton brettk at unica-usa.com
Thu Nov 11 16:00:48 PST 1999


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

It's possible that my memory is faulty, but before the bombing started I thought the refugee estimate was more like 250,000, most of which were internal (displaced but still inside Kosovo). It was after the bombing started that the numbers approached 1 million and Albanians were expelled into neighboring countries. And I thought the situation was the same for the damage the Serbs did (burning villiages, etc.).

At least I remember using this point when arguing with people who supported the bombing, invariably getting a response (also invariably unsupported) that the Serbs would have done this anyway.

This is a question of fact, easily verified. Does anyone remember clearly/have some evidence for exactly what happened?

>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

You have to distinguish between the Kosovars killed by the Serbs and the Serbs killed by NATO.

The interventionist argument rests on the presumption that bombing, although it would cause great damage and loss of life, would stop even greater atrocities. If the damage and destruction caused by the bombing campaign is on the order of the destruction caused by the Serbs, this argument collapses. And the burden of proof rests with people who supported the bombing. I have yet to see a convincing argument that this was the case. Almost without exception the justification is some kind of hand waving argument that things would have been worse, which is somehow supposed to be obvious to all. Indeed, this is about all they can do, since all the evidence (which continues to mount) undermines their argument.

If you restrict yourself to the number of people killed, the two actions were comparable. Of course there is the fact that the Serbs ejected people from their homes and so forth, but the NATO bombing wreaked plenty of this type of havoc also (ruined homes, environmental problems, etc. - inside Serbia AND Kosovo).

>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

How is this evidence of anti-interventionists hyping the number of dead, either the number of dead Kosovars or the number of dead Serbs? It is an honest and fair statement.

Fine, he offers his opinion that bombing would make things worse. But again, the burden of proof rests with those who want to escalate the bombing, saying that this would reduce suffering in the long run. So Zinn is under no obligation to support his opinion.

>"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

The same holds for these statements.

>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.

"To the extent that the war led to fewer atrocities"

You must be a religious man, because you could only make this statement based on blind faith. The evidence does not support it.

Serb atrocities against Kosovars ESCALATED upon commencement of the bombing.

We know that roughly 2,000 Serbs were killed during the NATO air operation, the same order of magnitude of Kosovars killed during the Serb occupation (again, this is a question of fact, easily verified)

Damage caused by the bombing at least partially offsets the damage done by the Serbs inside Kosovo (destroyed villiages, etc.).

And, finally, we now know that ethnic-cleansing-like activities are STILL taking place inside Kosovo, perpetrated by the KLA. This outcome could have been easily predicted by anyone with more than superficial familiarity with the KLA.

I find your belief that the war reduced the overall human suffering compared to what it otherwise would have been pure fantasy.


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