Butcher of Belgrade Offers Tips for Peace in Syria

James Bovard, June 18, 2013

The New York Times op-ed page has a piece by retired General Wesley Clark headlined: “To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate.”  The Times summarizes Clark’s wisdom: “The threat of force might get talks over Syria moving, as it did in Kosovo.”

Clark opines as if the military campaign which he headed was a stellar moral and strategic success: “In 1999 in Kosovo, the West used force as leverage for diplomacy. There, a limited NATO air campaign began after diplomatic talks failed to halt Serbian ethnic cleansing. The bombing lasted 72 days, and plans for a ground invasion of Serbia were under way when Mr. Milosevic finally bowed to the inevitable.”

It is stunning that anyone who showcase Clark as a wise man – considering the fiasco that he unleashed in the Balkans. For instance, NATO repeatedly dropped cluster bombs into marketplaces, hospitals, and other civilian areas. Cluster bombs are anti-personnel devices designed to be scattered across enemy troop formations. NATO dropped more than 1,300 cluster bombs on Serbia and Kosovo and each bomb contained 208 separate bomblets that floated to earth by parachute. Bomb experts estimated that more than 10,000 unexploded bomblets were scattered around the landscape when the bombing ended.

NATO worked overtime to explain away its “mistakes.” On April 12, a NATO pilot sent a missile into a passenger train on a railway bridge, killing 14 people. Clark took to the press podium to show the video from the nose of the missile, emphasizing that the pilot was focused on the bridge, “when all of a sudden, at the very last instant, with less than a second to go, he caught a flash of movement that came into a screen and it was the train coming in. Unfortunately, he couldn’t dump the bomb at that point. It was locked, it was going into the target and it was an unfortunate incident which he and the crew and all of us very much regret.” The video was endlessly replayed on Western television stations, driving home the point that, with the speed of modern missiles, there was sometimes nothing pilots could do to avoid catastrophe.

However, in January 2000, the Frankfurter Rundschau revealed that the video was shown at the NATO press conference at triple the actual speed, thus making the attack on civilians look far more inevitable than it actually was. NATO officials had become aware of the deceptive nature of the video several months earlier but saw “no reason” to publicly admit the error, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.

On April 14, 1999, NATO bombs repeatedly hit a column of ethnic Albanian refugees a few miles from the Albanian border, killing 75 people. NATO spokesmen initially claimed that Serbian planes carried out the attack and used the incident to further inflame anti-Serbian opinion. Five days later, NATO spokesmen admitted that the deaths had been caused by NATO forces. NATO then released the audio tape from the debriefing of a pilot identified as involved in the attack.

As Newsday reported,  “According to officials, the American pilot was selected because he gave a graphic account of Milosevic’s forces torching a series of ethnic Albanian villages near the Kosovo town of Dakojvica Wednesday. The pilot told how he selected a three-truck military convoy for a laser-guided bomb strike when he saw it pulling away from a village where fires were just starting.”

However, this gambit backfired when high-ranking military officers protested that NATO, at  Clark’s urging, had released the tape of a pilot who had nothing to do with bombing the refugee column. The pilot’s words were a red herring to distract attention from the carnage inflicted on the refugees.

The main achievement of the war was that, instead of Serbs terrorizing ethnic Albanians, ethnic Albanians terrorized Serbs; instead of refugees fleeing south and west, refugees headed north.

Unfortunately, few Americans paid close enough attention to the Kosovo war to recognize the danger of permitting the U.S. government and military commanders to go crusading with bombs dropped from 15,000 feet.

Thus, Clark is treated with respect when he recommends unleashing the same recipe for carnage in Syria.

14 Responses to “Butcher of Belgrade Offers Tips for Peace in Syria”

  1. "NATO spokesmen initially claimed that Serbian planes carried out the attack and used the incident to further inflame anti-Serbian opinion. Five days later, NATO spokesmen admitted that the deaths had been caused by NATO forces."

    Wasn't it due to a journalist – one of the very few that was actually in Kosovo during the bombing (might have been U.S. journalist Paul Watson) – going to scene and filming/photographing it which showed U.S. ordinance strewn all around, and it was that which made NATO admit they did it. But then they turned the story into NATO being tricked by the Serbs.
    From what I gathered the convoy was actually bombed and strafed by planes for quite a while – it wasn't just a single bomb or a few bombs. I don't remember the actual time but it seems it was something like 90 minutes, though may have only been 30 minutes. But I remember thinking that it was quite a good while – at very minimum a half an hour – and so the pilots must have been terrorizing the people of that convoy as they kept bombing. NATO would have had to have known all along their pilots were bombing as every bombing mission had to be approved and they were in communication the whole time – even had video cameras on the plane positioned to watch the strikes, and some bombs even had their own cameras which transmitted footage until they exploded.
    It's only when the lie is so blatant that even some of the sheeple will see it and/or that it becomes impossible for the propagandists to defend that they will stop using it – although they may try to adjust it. Otherwise they won't stop or own up.

  2. That is the best name for this general.., suites him perfectly.., butcher of Belgrade.

  3. This mad general deserves to be in prison for life. During the war in the former Yugoslavia, he was preparing himself part of the area for his postwar dubious business field, and today he and his son trade illegally weapons in some part of that area.
    Because of his poor decisions almost did not happen World War III. Fortunately, there is found a clever British general who responded in time. The FBI could use a little more to control this crazy general and his business, and citizen of the U.S. to condemn his actions.

  4. Another significant fact is that the convoy was headed north. This was a column of Albanian refugees who were going back home – straight into the hands of genocidal Serbs, only they were massacred by NATO before they could get there.

  5. "The main achievement of the war was that, instead of Serbs terrorizing ethnic Albanians, ethnic Albanians terrorized Serbs; instead of refugees fleeing south and west, refugees headed north."

    Actually the refugees fleeing south and west was an achievement of NATO intervention, as the truly massive exodus of Albanians did not begin until one week into the bombing. As for terrorizing, even the British authorities admitted that up until the beginning of the bombing the KLA had killed more people than had the Yugoslavs. Of course what they didn't mention was that KLA was mainly killing non-Albanian civilians and Albanians who were not boicotting Serbian institutions, whereas the Yugoslavs were mainly killing KLA fighters.

  6. We should also recall that little thing about bombing the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Oops.

    And about that "imminent" ground invasion thing: I clearly recall reading where Secretary of Defense Cohen (a Republican) told the self-aggrandizing NATO commander Clark: "Get your f***-ing face off TV!"

    Bombing only. No ground troops or US casualties permitted. The Serbs had a real army.

    Not to mention, of course, that nothing about Kosovo has anything to do with Serbia. Wesley Clark needs to shut his fat flapping lips.

  7. The reason for bombing refugees was obvious. Albanian villagers were much more afraid od their Kosovo Liberation thugs then of Serbian army. Just like in Syria, the "freedom fighters" terrorize civilians to force them to pay up, and to join the ranks. KLA terror was horrific. When these group of refugees headed north, into the area controlled by the army, NATO strifed them. This was to put fear into them by lying that Serbs did it. The idea of people running away from our "freedom fighters" was a problem, as KLA was forcing people to run accross the borders to insure the refugee numbers so that the western dignitaries can visit them, and justify further the bombing of the country. What is new.

  8. Kosovo has a lot to do with Serbia…Kosovo is Serbia's territory.

  9. That was all before 911. My, my, how the world has changed.

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  11. so can anyone clarify this

    milosovich maladic karadic were responsible for brutal mass rape ethnic cleansing and village arson. warcrimes galore. dutch un peacekeepers failed to stop the genocidal gangs. human rights groups documented mass graves of serbian atrocities. So what was NATO to do then intervene. Wernt viable non-interventionist options exhausted. Agree with Bovard, there were mistakes but overall should NATO have allowed fascists to go unchallenged in europe

  12. The "fascists" in that conflict were the Croatian soldiers using the Heil Hitler salute. Then there were the Bosnian Government forces ethnically cleansing the "bad" Muslims in Velika Kladusa. You really don't have a clue about that war, do you?

    Why don't you Google "Nasir Oric severed heads"?

  13. James, thanks for keeping the memory of that butcher's deeds alive.

  14. This reminds me of a Shakespearian comedy.
    (ie something thats not funny.)

    Dont people learn anything from history
    (to paraphrase Santayana)