THE KOSOVO WAR
CLINTON VERSUS MILOSEVIC
CLINTON VERSUS MILOSEVIC
No natural resources, no huge American conglomerates. Why did President Clinton push his NATO allies to destroy the infrastructure of a country whose dictator was bent on destroying an ethnic race? It certainly did not jive with the foreign policy which has been based on the premise that the United States military would protect American business interests abroad. That leaves one scenario -- the American president hoped to leave his office with a high popularity rating. Throughout the years, most Americans have rallied around the president who led the country in war. This marked the 218th time that an American president deployed troops to another part of the globe.
CENTURIES OF CONFLICT. Racial conflicts in Yugoslavia can be traced to 1389 when the Turks defeated the Serbs and subjugated them to centuries of domination. After nearly 500 years of domination, the first pro-independence demonstrations by ethnic Albanians in Kosovo came in 1968. Seven years later, the Yugoslav constitution was redrawn, and Kosovo was declared an autonomous province within Serbia. After the popular Marshal Josip Broz Tito died in 1980, ethnic Albanians took to the streets, declaring Kosovo a republic.
In 1989, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic stripped Kosovo of its autonomy. More than 20 killed in protests. The next year, Milosevic sent in Serbian troops to impose control, and he dissolved. Kosovo's government. Yet Kosovar separatists proclaimed their province as a sovereign republic which was subsequently recognized by neighboring Albania. In 1992 Ibrahim Rugova, who advocates a peaceful path to independence, was elected president of Kosovar, and four years later he attempted to consolidate his power by forming the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
On February 28, 1998, militant Kosovo Albanians killed two Serbian policemen, leading to police reprisals by Milosevic. The next month, dozens were killed in Serbian police action against suspected Albanian separatists. In a referendum in April, 95 percent of Serbs reject international mediation on Kosovo, and they imposed international sanctions against Yugoslavia. The following month, Milosevic and Rugova held talks for first time.
By the spring of 1998, the KLA had seized control of 40 percent of Kosovo before being routed in Serb offensive. In September Serb forces attacked central Kosovo, killing 22 Albanians. The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and political dialogue between the two sides.
CLINTON DECIDES TO GO TO WAR. Just weeks after President Clinton was inaugurated in 1993, he made a commitment to use force in Kosovo after President Bush had warned President Slobodan Milosevic only months before. In February 1998 the White House's top negotiator on Kosovo warned that air strikes might be necessary to stop Serbian forces from continuing to massacre ethnic Albanians in the region. A month later, after a series of KLA attacks on Serbian police, Milosevic unleashed his security forces for reprisal killings and drew another warning from the American special envoy to the area, Robert Gelbard, who proposed using force against the Belgrade regime.
However, National Security advisor Sandy Berger opposed the idea. The statement by the NSC included, "We didn't have the allies with us. By taking force off the table that early, we undermined the possibility of a political settlement. The Kosovars hadn't been radicalized yet. You could have had a deal."
Instead of peace, the rapidly growing Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA) attempted to resist Serb aggression, and by September the insurgents held as much as 40 percent of Kosovo's territory. Serbian forces struck back, often by massacring unarmed civilians. Meanwhile, the United States continued to appeal for restraint on both sides, and Clinton sent special envoy Richard Holbrooke on March 22 in a last-ditch effort. But even as he stressed that NATO was serious about bombing, Holbrooke merely mentioned the use of NATO ground troops was an option, since Berger, Albright and Defense Secretary William Cohen were publicly promising that ground troops would never be involved to negotiate a truce. This time Clinton persuaded the NATO allies to join in threatening air strikes, but the president backed away from a recommendation from Secretary of State Madeline Albright to send in ground troops as a peacekeeping force. A White House official said, "Albright, (envoy to Macedonia Christopher) Hill, and Holbrooke all said we needed a ground armed force, but the White House turned it down."
However, in May, Clinton rejected the idea as too extreme in May 1998, and Milosevic resumed the murder of ethnic Albanians at full force. In September, Clinton threatened air strikes against Serbia if Miloseviv continued his killings, and the American president turned down proposals to enforce a truce with armed peacekeeping troops. Milosevic responded by intensifying Serbian attacks in Kosovar.
Once again, NATO threatened air strikes in September, and this produced a truce agreement a month later. As the KLA again stepped up operations, Serbian forces massacred 45 ethnic Albanians in the village of Racak, and Milosevic refused to cooperate with the international observers who were supposed to investigate such incidents. NATO again threatened force but indicated that it desperately hoped to avoid any conflict. The United States and its allies delayed authorizing air strikes, making it clear that they would not send ground troops into combat. The two sides went to the peace table at a fourteenth century chateau in Rambouillet, France, and the results were nothing more than rhetoric.
In October, NATO countries authorized air strikes against Serbian military targets, but Milosevic agreed to withdraw troops and facilitate the return of tens of thousands of refugees. Belgrade agreed to allow 2,000 unarmed monitors to verify compliance. Between October and December, Hill tried to broker a political settlement, but sporatic daily violence undermined the fragile truce. In December Serb troops killed 36 KLA rebels. Six young Serbs were killed in a cafe, prompting widespread Serb protests. At least 15 more people were killed in the north.
But the Clinton administration was still reluctant to attack Belgrade, since the president feared that Democrats would lose seats in November's midterm elections. As one White House official put it, "There was great concern about public support. In addition both France and Britain were hesitant to use force, as they still hoped to bring Milosevic to the peace table.
On January 15, 1999, 45 ethnic Albanians were slain outside Racak, spurring international efforts for a peace settlement. Two weeks later, Serb police killed 24 Kosovo Albanians in a raid on a suspected rebel hideout. Western allies demanded that the two sides attend a Kosovo peace conference or face NATO air strikes. Meanwhile, Clinton continued to threaten air strikes if the Serb regime continued. Along with other NATO 14 leaders, Clinton promised that ground troops would never be deployed. Milosevic again tested NATO's threats by escalating Serbian occupation of Kosovo, and threats from the Clinton administration continued. Milosevic continued to escalate his ground offensive, thus producing a greater refugee crisis and more deaths. Some White House officials said no one could have expected such a debacle. CIA officials boasted that they had warned that Milosevic would never capitulate.
Between February 6 and 17, an inconclusive round of talks were held between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs in Rambouillet, France. Meanwhile, Serb forces swept through the Macedonian border region, digging in across from where thousands of NATO forces gathering for a possible peacekeeping mission. The Serbian army bombarded KLA positions in the north. The KLA responded by launching several attacks against the Serbs.
On March 18, Kosovo Albanians unilaterally signed a peace deal calling for a broad interim autonomy to be implemented by 28,000 NATO troops. However, the Serbian delegation refused these terms, and the talks were suspended. Two days later, international peace monitors evacuated Kosovo, as Serb forces once again launched an offensive against the KLA. On the following day, Holbrooke visited Belgrade to warn Milosevic of air strikes unless he complied to the peace agreement. But Milosevic refused to allow NATO troops into Yugoslavia. Ultimately, Holbrooke declared the talks a failure.
CLINTON CONVINCES NATO TO ATTACK. Finally, the Clinton administration convinced the other NATO countries to commence air strikes over Serbia, and the round-the-clock onslaught began on March 24. Clinton mistakenly thought that he could reduce Serbia to near rubble in defending the Kosovars. But his strategy backfired, as numerous innocent lives were taken and much of Serbia's infrastructure was destroyed. When Milosevic chose instead to escalate attacks on the Kosovars, the President intensified the bombing, leaving the victims to their fate. White House officials publicly stated that approximately two weeks of air strikes was essential to force Milosevic to the peace table.
Various Clinton administration officials, including Secretary of State Madeline Albright, did not take responsibility for advising the president that air strikes would be successful. Initially, she bragged that the Belgrade government would collapse in "a relatively short period," and 11 days later she was forced to state that victory would not come quickly. Defense Department officials said they had warned all along that air power would not guarantee a quick victory. Several Pentagon officials placed the blame on the secretary of state and called it "Madeleine Albright's war." In response, the Department of State stated that they had never believed that Milosevic would capitulate to NATO's demands. The State Department placed the blame on the Pentagon advised the president that air strikes would be successful.
CLINTON STEPS UP THE WAR. Clinton failed to articulate both the course of the war and the objective of the United States. As a NATO victory appeared unlikely as the weeks passed, it became clear that the Clinton administration grossly miscalculated its goal of bringing down Milosevic. The American president attempted to redefine the meaning of victory, claiming that the primary NATO goal was an ambiguous "loosening the grip" of the Serbs on Kosovo.
Clinton escalated the bombing of Belgrade's civilian infrastructure, calling it a "degrading" of the Serbs' military power. In the first three weeks of the air campaign, American military action cost taxpayers between $18 million and $25 million per day, and a total of $3 billion was expended. Each cruise missile cost approximately $1 million.
After five weeks of air strikes, the United States had destroyed seven Serbian planes -- or half of Milosevic's air force. Additionally, fewer than 50 of Serbia's 450 tanks in Kosovo were leveled. Clinton announced that two dozen "tank-busting" attack AH-64 Apache helicopters would be deployed to Albania. Upon their arrival in Tirana, two Apaches crashed. The first crash occurred when the gunship was approaching an airstrip, and the pilots misjudged the distance. They escaped with minor injuries. The second mishap was due to pilot error and the other due to mechanical error when the tail rotor failed, and both pilots were killed. Army figures revealed that there have been 50 serious crashes involving 14 fatalities in the Apache gunships since they went into service. A report by the GAO in 1992 found several mechanical problems with the Apache, including faulty rotor blades and night-vision systems. Nevertheless, the Pentagon said that the helicopter's overall safety record remained satisfactory.
The Clinton administration received another blow when three America soldiers were captured in the vicinity of the Kosovo-Macedonia border. After being held captive for five weeks, Reverend Jesse Jackson's delegation of American clergymen traveled to Belgrade to obtain their release.
None of these setbacks deterred the president who continued to escalate the airstrikes. In early May Clinton announced that over 30,000 reservists would be summoned to Albania, and the first transports departed from various American bases on May 10.
AND MILOSEVIC STEPS UP "ETHNIC CLEANSING." Milosevic responded to increased NATO strikes by continuing to send more of Kosovars two million people into adjacent countries. By the end of April, Milosevic had displaced over 600,000 ethnic Albanians, and many Kosovar villages became virtual ghost towns. Nearly half of the 2 million Kosovars were driven into neighboring Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania, the latter of which took in over 300,000 by the beginning of May.
Over 800,000 displaced persons remained inside Kosovar, corralled into pockets by Serbian forces and cut off from food and supplies. Some joined the guerrilla KLA army. The vast majority of the refugees were women and children. Tens of thousands of Albanian men were detained by the Serbian army, and they were feared to have been murdered. As refugees flooded into adjacent countries, the United States announced $50 million in aid at a time when over $4 billion had been spent in financing the NATO war machine. Two hundred thousand refugees were sent to the American base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
REPUBLICANS REBUKE THE PRESIDENT --BUT STILL VOTE FOR $12.9 BILLION. The first formal debates in Congress came in late April. The Senate initially voted on March 23 to approve the air strikes. However, in a sharp challenge to Clinton in late April, the House voted 249-180 to prevent the president from sending in American ground troops. Forty-five Democrats and an independent joined 203 Republicans to support the measure. Sixteen Republicans and 164 Democrats opposed the bill. Then, in a surprise vote, the House failed to pass a Democratic resolution intended to give symbolic support to the President's air campaign. The measure failed in a tie vote of 213 to 213 even though Speaker Dennis Hastert threw his support behind it. In all, 31 Republicans broke with their party to back the air campaign and 26 Democrats voted against it. In a strange twist, Clinton asked Congress for $6 billion to continue air strikes against the Milosevic regime. The Republican Congress responded by appropriating -- not the $6 billion -- but $12.9 billion for the war effort.
The Senate voted 78-22 to table Republican Senator John McCain's resolution authorizing ground forces after an insultingly short debate. The result was that the air war continued to be waged in defiance of the Constitution and of Congress, as Representatives Tom Campbell, Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur argue in a lawsuit they recently filed.
BOMBING THE CHINESE EMBASSY. For months prior to the show-down between Bosnia and NATO forces, Milosevic initiated the policy of forcing hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. By the end of the war in May 1999, 780,000 Kosovars had fled to neighboring Albania, Macedonia, and Montenegro.
The 78 days of air strikes over Yugoslavia were officially waged by the 19 NATO countries but ostensibly engineered by the United States. Surprisingly, the CIA was involved in choosing only one target during the campaign which was carried out by NATO planes. On July 22, two months after the conclusion of the war, CIA Director Tenet said that the one target was the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Tenet conceded that "The attack was a mistake," and he went on to say "Let me emphasize, our investigation has determined that no one -- I repeat no one -- knowingly targeted the Chinese embassy."
Tenet said that the Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement was the only target selected by the CIA for NATO bombing. The directorate headquarters turned out to be about 330 yards from the Chinese Embassy. According to Tenet, the remainder of the planning of targets was carried out by the Pentagon and NATO. Tenet also stated that the CIA was pressed into service to select a target because the Pentagon urgently demanded more targets as the pounding of Yugoslavia dragged on longer than NATO and the Clinton administration had anticipated.
American planes dropped three bombs on the Chinese embassy, killing four Chinese and wounding another 20. The bombs presumably were dropped by American radar-evading stealth F-117 fighters. The bombs may have been laser-guided or satellite-guided, though the laser-guided variety might be considered preferable for striking a building in a crowded city because of their slightly greater accuracy.
White House officials said that they believed it to be a Serbian weapons depot and that the pilots had been given faulty target information. NATO officials said the CIA had "nominated" the target two to three weeks before, believing that it was the Yugoslav Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement which housed the headquarters for the Serbian army's weapons supply and procurement system. The five-story embassy building was several hundred yards from the supply depot. The CIA proposal to bomb this site then was validated by staff members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the United States European Command, and NATO headquarters in Brussels, in a chain of command intended to ensure that only proper targets are chosen for attack.
The CIA used an outdated map of Belgrade, although the site of the embassy building was well known in the Yugoslav capital. The CIA had the correct street address for the arms agency, Bulevar Umetnosti 2. However, to pinpoint that location, the analysts used a technique of comparing the number sequence on parallel streets. Tenet said this practice offered only "an approximate location." He further stated that this method was "inappropriate" for selecting aerial targets.
CIA analysts compounded that mistake by using several maps to locate the arms agency. The CIA had two Yugoslav commercial maps from 1989 and 1996. One map was drawn by a Belgrade bank and still showed the Chinese embassy at its old location. The other was an American map was prepared by the Pentagon's National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) in 1992 at a time when China's embassy was in downtown Belgrade, miles from its current site. It was updated in 1997 and reviewed in 1998, but it still did not include the current site of the embassy and left the building there unmarked. The new embassy was built in 1996. Yet the maps still had the embassy in its former location.
While the Clinton administration attempted to downplay the embassy bombing, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made it clear that NATO should be absolved of the tragedy and that the United States was solely responsible for the disaster. Schroeder met with Chinese officials and said that he hoped to provide for a full explanation of the planning and bombing of the embassy.
This was not the first time American warplanes have struck foreign embassies. During the Vietnam War, U.S. bombs struck the French embassy in Hanoi, killing the charge a'affaires. During the April 1986 bombing of Tripoli, American planes struck the French, Romanian, and Swiss embassies.
News of the attack on the embassy touched off a firestorm of protests in China. Thousands of Chinese students marched on the American embassy in Beijing, shouting and hurling rocks. They waved signs and hand-lettered placards with such messages as "USA Go to Hell" and the word "NATO" coupled with a Nazi swastika. Students shouted, "Down with U.S. imperialism," "Pay debts in blood," and "Down with U.S. running dogs." Crowds in the Philippines burned flags and threw fruit at the American embassy. And protesters hurled eggs at the American embassy in Buenos Aires.
In late July, the United States and China agreed to pay $4.5 million to compensate the victims of the bombing of the Chinese embassy. The agreement removed one of the biggest obstacles to improved relations between the two countries. However, the agreement did not resolve questions about compensation for property damage to the Chinese embassy or to the American embassy and consulates in China in the days of violent protest following the bombing.
In April 2000 -- eleven months after the bombing of the Chinese embassy -- the CIA dismissed a mid-level officer for the targeting error. Six other agency employees, including a senior official and four supervisors, also received administrative punishments from the CIA for their roles in approving the target. In punishing the employees, the agency acknowledged that blame for the bombing fell on a range of people and spanned several levels of responsibility. The six who retained their jobs -- some of whom operated under aliases because they were involved in covert activities -- received administrative punishments that varied from an oral admonishment to a letter of reprimand that included a one year prohibition on promotions and raises.
PAST INTELLIGENCE MAPS. The GAO reported that during the 1991 Gulf War, NIMA's predecessor distributed outdated maps that contributed in part to a fatal friendly fire incident. A nautical map that led a Korean freighter to run aground in 1987 provided incorrect water depths off the coast of Brazil. In 1983 troops were forced to rely on tourist maps during the invasion of Grenada because most of the military charts did not reach them until the operation was nearly over. NIMA's nautical charts also were a factor in an accident at sea in 1987 when the Hyundai New World, a 200,000-ton Korean freighter, ran aground off the coast of Brazil. Owners of the ship sued the U.S. government in 1989 for $60 million.
In the past, maps used by the American intelligence community also omitted power lines and other flight hazards or have misplotted them. American troops at war received outdated charts. The NIMA military map of Aviano, Italy did not show the gondola cables because, according to the Pentagon, the towers supporting it were under 100 feet tall, the minimum height that was required to be shown on the map. When struck by the Marine fighter, 20 people plunged to their deaths in February 1998. In 1998 a NIMA analyst missed signs that India was preparing to test nuclear weapons.
WHAT DID THE CIA REALLY KNOW? President Clinton and CIA Director George Tenet reflected the official NATO line. They both apologized and said that the attack on the embassy was a mistake. Defense Secretary William Cohen said, "One of our planes attacked the wrong target because the bombing instructions were based on an outdated map."
But later other stories surfaced. A NIMA official maintained that the "wrong map" story was "a damned lie." And subsequent inquiries revealed that there never was a supply depot at the site which Tenet claimed that NATO had intended to bomb. That site was nearly one-half mile from the address which he gave, and it was bombed at a later date.
Months after the war -- on October 17, 1999 -- the London Observer reported that NATO deliberately bombed the Chinese embassy after discovering it was being used to transmit Yugoslav army communications. According to NATO sources, the Chinese embassy was removed from a prohibited targets list after intelligence officials detected that it was sending army signals to Milosevic's forces. This allegation was confirmed by three NATO officials. They included a flight controller operating in Naples, an intelligence officer monitoring Yugoslav radio traffic from Macedonia, and a senior headquarters officer in Brussels. They said that they knew in April that the Chinese embassy was used to broadcast military intelligence reports to the Yugoslav army after NATO planes had knocked out Milosevic's own transmitters.
The official stationed in Naples said that the Chinese embassy was correctly located at its current site -- not where it had been until 1996 as claimed by the United States and NATO. The intelligence officer in Macedonia said, "NATO had been hunting the radio transmitters in Belgrade. When the president's (Milosevic's) residence was bombed on 23 April, the signals disappeared for 24 hours. When they came on the air again, we discovered they came from the embassy compound." The broadcast station was then moved from Milosevic's residence to the Chinese embassy. The air controller said, "The Chinese embassy had an electronic profile, which NATO located and pinpointed."
These three NATO officials also suspected that the embassy was used to monitor NATO's cruise missile attacks on Belgrade, hoping that this would help the Chinese military develop an effective anti-missile system. China lacked stealth technology, and Beijing knew that Yugoslavia had shot down an American F-117 stealth fighter which could be very useful. Thus, China was in a position to provide military intelligence to Milosevic in return for stealth technology.
In addition, it appeared logical that the United States and NATO knew precisely where the Chinese embassy was located and what its function was. It would have been routine for the CIA, NATO, and European intelligence groups to monitor the communications from the embassy.
MORE "COLLATERAL DAMAGE." In early April, Serbian officials said that about 70 people were killed when NATO bombs hit a column of ethnic Albanian civilians near the town of Djakovica. Immediately, the White House said that the attack was made by Serb troops, but the next day it was determined that American planes had indeed fired on the convoy, believing it contained only military vehicles. After this was revealed, the Clinton administration became silent, and an apology was made to the Serbian government by a European NATO spokesman.
On April 12, a NATO missile was fired at a railroad bridge in southeastern Serbia and struck a passenger train as it was crossing a bridge over a canyon. The Belgrade government reported that 27 civilians were killed. On April 14 at least 75 ethnic Albanian refugees headed for the Macedonian border were killed when NATO planes three miles overhead mistake the convoy of trucks and wagons for military vehicles. The following day, a NATO bomb went astray in the mining town of Aleksinac, killing 17 civilians. On April 23, airstrikes against Radio and Television Serbia demolished the chief source of propaganda in Yugoslavia, but 16 employees were killed.
Seventy-five refugees were killed on April 14 when NATO mistakenly attacked a convoy near Djakovica.
On April 27, at least one laser-guided bomb missed its intended military target and exploded in a neighborhood of civilian houses in southern Serbia. Belgrade officials claimed that 20 civilians were killed. NATO spokesman, General Giuseppe Marani of Italy, said that the attack had been aimed at a Serb army training center 200 to 300 yards away in the town of Surdulica, although reports from the scene said that the barracks was at least 500 yards away. Marani also said that more than one bomb may have missed its target. Journalists who visited the site reported seeing a second bomb crater. British Defense Minister George Robertson said that the attack destroyed the military barracks it was aimed at and apologized for civilian casualties in the adjacent neighborhood.
On April 28, an air-to-ground HARM missile destroyed an empty house 30 miles from the border with Serbia. A day later, a laser-guided bomb fell short of its target and killed civilians in southern Yugoslavia. And yet on the next day, a NATO warplane inadvertently fired a missile into a suburb of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. At the end of April, NATO forces struck the headquarters of the Yugoslav army and the federal Interior Ministry in the center of Belgrade. However, some missiles also hit a residential district, injuring four people and damaging two houses.
On May 1, NATO planes blew a civilian bus in half on a bridge in this Kosovo village, killing at least 24 people and critically wounding 16 others. At least four of the victims were ethnic Albanian children who had boarded the southbound bus in the Serbian province at Podujevo. This marked the fifth time in the war that NATO pilots mistakenly struck civilians. A small group of journalists was about 300 yards from the second bridge when a bomb exploded. They also witnessed another detonation minutes later when an ambulance was trying to cross. Shrapnel from that blast wounded a civilian medical technician and prevented other ambulances from reaching the carnage at the destroyed bus.
A stray cluster bomb dropped by a NATO plane went astray and hit a hospital in the southern Serbian city of Nia. Government officials claimed that 15 civilians were killed.
American planes hit Belgrade's Hotel Jugoslavia which was located a quarter mile away from the Chinese embassy. Quite possibly, American intelligence believed that was the hide-out for indicted Serbian guerrilla Zeljko Rasnjatovic, also known as Arkan. The hotel was also known to hosue the Serbian paramilitary groups called the Tigers.
NATO attacked the Kosovo village of Korisa where Serbian media reported that 84 ethnic Albanian refugees were killed. NATO called the village "a legitimate military target," saying that it was a military camp and command post. The United States claimed that the refugees were used as human shields to protect military equipment deployed in the village. The ethnic Albanians in Korisa emerged from weeks of hiding in the woods and stopped overnight in the village near Prizren when the bombs struck.
On May 19, the private residence of the Swiss ambassador was damaged when NATO planes hit a target 300 yards away. When the windows of the residence were shattered Ambassador Mats Staffansson -- along with the ambassadors from Slovakia and the Vatican -- dived under tables to avoid flying glass.
On May 21, NATO warplanes attacked a prison, killing 19 inmates and guards. Immediately, NATO and Pen,tagon officials did not confirm that any of their bombs or missiles had struck the prison itself. One NATO official said that a nearby compound was the target since it was a staging area for Yugoslav Army and police units operating in Kosovo. A Pentagon official said the prison was near the compound, but was not targeted in the strikes, which hit two military barracks across the street. The prison's governor, Aleksandar Rakocevic, said his deputy had been killed and a warden was badly wounded, adding that he believed three or four prisoners had escaped out of the 1,000 inmates.
The force of blasts at army barracks and a petroleum facility blew out windows and caused other damage to the homes of ambassadors from Sweden, India, Norway, Spain and Hungary. The embassies of Libya and Israel were also slightly damaged.
On May 23, NATO admitted its bombs struck a military barracks that had been captured six weeks ago by the KLA. The KLA said seven fighters were killed and 25 were injured inside the three-story concrete building about six miles from the Albanian border.
By the end of May, approximately 780,000 ethnic Albanians had left Kosovo, which had a pre-war population of 2 million, since NATO bombings aimed at forcing Milosevic to accept a Western-dictated peace plan began March 24.
INTERNATIONAL LAW. As NATO's war intensified, the Serbian government responded by filing accusations with the World Court in The Hague that 10 NATO states were violating international law with the airstrikes. Milosevic demanded an immediate end to the bombardment. The White House and State Department dismissed the move as "absurd."
Not only did the air strikes fail to bring down the Milosevic regime, but international law constrained the American military operations. The Clinton administration's plan, of constantly increasing bombing pressure until Serbia would submit, was a failure. In 1993, the United Nations Security Council created the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Responding to initiatives from the United States and its NATO allies, the Security Council acted to end atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. The tribunal was the first international war crimes tribunal since Nuremberg. It had 26 individuals in custody, and also issued indictments against more than 80 suspects. All major NATO countries actively supported the tribunal. However, the possibility remained that even some of NATO's leaders could also be indicted.
The war crimes tribunal has had jurisdiction over any individual responsible for serious violations of the law of war in the former Yugoslavia since 1991. One crime, over which the tribunal has jurisdiction, is the "wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." NATO officials, senior military officers and even common servicemen could be prosecuted by the tribunal if bombings are not dictated by military necessity.
Attorneys from Canada, Britain, Greece, and the American Association of Jurists filed complaints with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. They entered charges in The Hague, claiming that NATO countries and NATO leaders committed war crimes which included "grave violations of international humanitarian law" and "willful killing, willfully causing great suffering and serious injury to body and health, employment of poisonous weapons and other weapons to cause unnecessary suffering." Their complaint included a substantial amount of evidence supporting their allegations against NATO.
For the first time in its history, the United States found itself engaged in an armed conflict in which an international court may correctly insist that it may try United States officials and servicemen. In June 1999 litigation proceedings began in The Hague, and former Canadian judge Louise Arbour was assigned to prosecute the case. However, a conflict of interest emerged immediately. Arbour was an outspoken supporter of NATO, and she had worked closely with the NATO allies in gathering evidence on the crimes being committed by the Serbian forces in Kosovo. Furthermore, she met with the Secretaries Albright and Cohen to receive further commitments of assistance. Finally, it was the NATO countries that paid the bulk of her salary. As predicted, Arbour appeared to stonewall the case against NATO.
Carla Del Ponte of Switzerland succeeded Arbour as prosecutor in November. It first appeared that Del Ponte was following Arbour's passive approach, but in December she told The Observer, a London newspaper, "If I am not willing to do that (to press charges), I am in the wrong place. I must give up my mission." Subsequently, the Tribunal announced that it had completed a study of the charges against NATO, stating, "It is very important for this tribunal to assert its authority over any and all authorities to the armed conflict with the former Yugoslavia."
However, four days later, the New York Times (December 30, 1999) printed a statement from Del Ponte's office. "NATO is not under investigation by the office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo"
THE PENTAGON'S DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN. The war ended in June when Milosevic agreed to pull his army from Kosovo after 78 days of aerial bombardment. The Pentagon declared victory and boasted that the war was the most successful air campaign ever. Defense Secretary Cohen declared, "We severely crippled the (Serb) military forces in Kosovo by destroying more than 50 percent of the artillery and one third of the armored vehicles." Not a single NATO soldier or airman lost his or her life. JCS chairman General Henry Shelton claimed that NATO's air forces had killed "around 120 tanks ... about 220 armored personnel carriers ... and up to 450 artillery and mortar pieces."
However, figures were distorted to give the appearance that the air war was a monumental success. A year later, Newsweek (May 15, 2000) reported a cover-up by the Pentagon. Newsweek obtained a suppressed Air Force report that was ordered by General Shelton. It stated the number of targets verifiably destroyed was a tiny fraction of those claimed. Fourteen Serb tanks, not 120, were destroyed. Serb General Nobojsa Pavkovic claimed to have lost only 13 tanks, but at first NATO General Wesley Clark brushed that aside as mere disinformation by the Milosevic regime. Eighteen armored personnel carriers, not 220, were destroyed. And out of the 744 confirmed strikes by NATO pilots during the war, Air Force investigators found evidence of just 58.
According to Newsweek interviews in April and May of 2000, top military officers and Pentagon officials denied the significance of the Air Force's report. General Clark was dubious about the Air Force's claims and dispatched a team of 30 investigators -- known as the Munitions Effectiveness Assessment Team or MEAT -- into Kosovo to conduct a survey. But since the cover-up occurred on Clark's watch, he resigned his post with none of the hoopla that other generals received.
MEAT found dozens of burnt-out cars, buses and trucks -- but very few tanks. The team concluded that the bombing was highly accurate against fixed targets such as bunkers and bridges. But the Serb army constructed numerous fake objects. Bridges were manufactured out of polyethylene sheeting stretched across rivers. Phoney artillery guns which were actually logs placed on truck wheels. A two-thirds scale SA-9 antiaircraft missile launcher was fabricated from the metal-lined paper used to make European milk cartons. Each time one of these targets was hit by a NATO plane, it added to the number of objects which had been destroyed.
A second Air Force report, consisting of 194 pages, was based on the MEAT investigation. It showed that NATO had successfully struck 93 tanks, close to the 120 claimed by General Shelton. It also stated that 153 armored personnel carriers -- not 220 -- were destroyed. However, the report indicated that the Pentagon was not concerned with the numbers game. It stated, "The assessment provides no data on what proportion of total mobile targets were hit or the level of damage inflicted." General Clark told Newsweek that he refused to get into a discussion of the numbers of targets which were destroyed by NATO planes.
CHARGES OF ABUSE BY AMERICAN SOLDIERS. In March 2000, the 82nd Airborne disciplined five enlisted soldiers and four officers for their involvement in the misconduct. Colonel John Morgan III, the officer who conducted the investigation, recommended that some of those military personnel face criminal charges at a court-martial. Nevertheless, the defendants were handed out less severe administrative actions. The Army declined to identify those punished, but officials said that they included the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Ellerbe, and the company commander, Captain Kevin Lambert. The report said that Ellerbe had directed his soldiers to carry out one specific order -- identifying and neutralizing Albanian factions -- that went beyond his superiors' intentions, thus leading to misconduct.
The first allegations of sexual misconduct, beatings, and even murder by American soldiers were made in the fall of 2000. Over 800 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, one of the Army's elite fighting units, were sent to Kosovo with little training, the New York Times (September 19, 2000) revealed. An Army investigation concluded that American soldiers beat and manhandled ethnic Albanians. The report was released after a member of the 82nd Airborne Division was accused of murdering a Kosovo Albanian girl in January 2000. It suggested that decisions by Army leaders in Kosovo and in the United States had contributed at least in part to violations of "basic standards of conduct, human decency, and the Army values of treating others with dignity and respect."
The Times reported that the report accused the soldiers' commanders in Kosovo of displaying a "propensity toward Serb favoritism" and an overly hostile attitude toward Kosovo's Albanians. It concluded that they either knew or should have known about complaints that soldiers were using excessive force and sexually mistreating women during searches. The most striking finding involved the 82nd's lack of training for an operation that stopped short of what the Army calls "high-intensity conflict." The report said that the troops received little peacekeeping training before they were deployed and had not conducted a peacekeeping mission rehearsal exercise. As a result, the lead investigator, Colonel Morgan, concluded, the soldiers "experienced difficulties tempering their combat mentality" and adapting to the sort of low-level violence and intimidation found between Kosovo's Serbs and Albanians.
Army officials in Washington D.C. and at the 82nd's headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina declined to discuss the unit's training, though one official said in the Times that the division's soldiers underwent all the training required by the Army at the time.