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A Just War?

Stephen R. Shalom

On June 17, 1999, the editors of the New York Times explained that the "signs of mass killing and wanton destruction" throughout Kosovo "ought to give pause to those who fault NATO for confronting Slobodan Milosevic." "[I]t is not too soon to conclude." wrote the editors, "that the air offensive was just."

But why would further evidence of Serbian atrocities during the war strengthen the pro-war case? Principled critics of the NATO war did not doubt that Milosevic's forces had committed horrible atrocities before the bombing and even more monstrous crimes once the bombing began. Indeed, a major argument raised by these critics against the war was precisely that the bombing unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe for the Kosovar Albanians on a scale far worse than what was going on before the bombing. Inevitably and depressingly further evidence of post-bombing Serbian atrocities will come to light. Such evidence, however, will not weaken the anti-war case. On the contrary, it strengthens the view that alternatives to the bombing should have been pursued -- as imperfect as they may have been. It seems to me that the moral burden is on the supporters of the war to show that NATO's resort to violence mitigated to some degree the suffering of the ethnic Albanians. This is not a sufficient condition for justifying the war -- for the war surely had other costs -- but certainly it is a necessary one.

The war's supporters have tried to meet this burden by making three different arguments. First, they have argued that what was going on before the bombing was not significantly different from what came later. Second, they have argued that the accelerated ethnic cleansing began shortly before the bombing, so that the bombing was a response to the ethnic cleansing, rather than a contributing factor. And, third, they have argued that the post-bombing ethnic cleansing was going to happen in any event so the bombing played no role in causing it. Each one of these arguments is unconvincing. I will consider them in turn.


Before and After

How does Kosovo before the bombing compare with it after? Before there were some 2,000 deaths. This is a very rough figure, including deaths of Serbs and Albanians, military and civilian, with Albanian civilians being the main victims.1 After the bombing, we don't know the total death toll, but it is surely far higher.

Before the bombing there was a clear Serbian intention of driving people out of border villages and KLA strongholds, but no effort to expel ethnic Albanians from the cities or from Kosovo as a whole. After the bombing, however, as NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea stated, "it's no longer simply a matter of small villages being affected, or those areas which had links with the Kosovo Liberation Army, it's now the entire territory and towns and cities too...."2

On March 31, a U.S. State Department report declared:

For the past year, Serb tactics in Kosovo were dominated by attacks by the security forces on small villages. While as many as 300,000 people were displaced either internally or abroad at the height of last summer's fighting, the bulk of them left their houses voluntarily, out of legitimate fear for their safety.

Yugoslav Army units and armed civilians have now joined the police in systematically expelling ethnic Albanians from both villages and the larger towns of Kosovo. Many of these places had not been the scene of any previous fighting or UCK [KLA] activity....3

The May 1999 report of the U.S. State Department, "Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo," stated: "In contrast to last fall, when attacks on civilians by Serbian security forces generally occurred in small villages, this spring VJ and MUP units have apparently joined with recently armed Serb civilians to expel their neighbors from both villages and the larger towns of Kosovo." According to the report, "In late March 1999, Serbian forces dramatically increased the scope and pace of their efforts, moving away from selective targeting of towns and regions suspected of KLA sympathies toward a sustained and systematic effort to ethnically cleanse the entire province of Kosovo."4

Or consider this pre-bombing report from the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission on March 1, 1999:

According to humanitarian observers, a large group (estimates range from several hundred to some 3,000) ethnic Albanian Kosovars have flocked to the Macedonian border over the weekend attempting to flee the latest violence in the far south of Kosovo. Those with passports and proper papers are apparently being permitted to pass into Macedonia. Most of those trying to flee, however, are being prevented by Serbian authorities from leaving Kosovo.5


Compare this with the post-bombing situation where people were driven out and their identity documents confiscated or destroyed.

The International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in its indictment of Milosevic and four others, says that actions resulting in "forced deportations" began "on or about 1 January 1999." But the indictment lists ten cases of forced deportations of ethnic Albanians by FRY and Serb forces, every one of which took place no earlier than late March.6 Any good prosecutor will choose the best documented instances of criminal actions for presentation in an indictment; that no cases of forced deportations are listed for the period when the international verifiers were present in the province (and hence when atrocities are more readily documented) shows the lack of significant forced deportations out of Kosovo earlier.


Was Ethnic Cleansing in Progress?

A second line of argument by supporters of the war is that ethnic cleansing was already in progress when the bombing began, not months before, but in the week or two before. To have failed to bomb, Madeleine Albright has said, would have meant "we would be negotiating while they were carrying out their 'village a day keeps NATO away.'"7

But it is important to keep clear the chronology here. On March 15, the ethnic Albanian delegation at Rambouillet agreed to sign the accord. As U.S. and NATO officials had warned Milosevic, if the Albanians signed and Belgrade did not, there would be NATO bombing. On the 15th Clinton warned Milosevic again. Thus, it is not surprising that Serb forces increased their activity on the 15th8 -- since Milosevic knew he wasn't going to sign and that NATO bombing was thus more likely. Some of this Serbian military activity involved, in the words of a State Department spokesperson, "positioning themselves in such a way that one could infer that they are anticipating NATO military action" and some was attacks on areas of KLA strength.9 But still, Serb actions in this period were different from what they would soon become. The OSCE reported on March 17 that "Serb forces were escalating their military activities gradually while keeping a careful eye on Western reaction. Belgrade seems to be controlling the situation to avoid huge losses of civilian lives that would leave the West with no option but to take military action." A report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said OSCE, agrees with their own "observation that civilian casualties have been 'relatively light' in the recent fighting. The report says that in at least some places, VJ [Yugoslav army] forces have apparently made deliberate attempts to avoid targeting non-combatants."10 And the State Department's "Chronology of Recent Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo" begins on March 19.11

March 19 was the date on which the OSCE observers were withdrawn -- a precondition, as everyone knew, for the bombing. And U.S. and NATO officials traveled to Belgrade to make sure that Milosevic knew the bombing would soon commence.12 So that Milosevic might have "responded" to the bombing before it actually began would not be unexpected. The violence sharply increased -- "'The racial hatred was unleashed,' said one senior Administration official. 'Albanians began to kill Serbs; Serbs were shooting up villages.'" -- but still in most places the crucial turning point was March 24, the day the bombing began. "There was fighting near here all the time," an Albanian woman in Stimlje told Steven Erlanger of the New York Times after the war. "But with the bombs, the Serbs turned on the people."13 The Times' John Kifner reported that "The Serbs began attacking Kosovo Liberation Army strongholds on March 19, but their attack kicked into high gear on March 24, the night NATO began bombing Yugoslavia."14

It is clear, of course, that a Serb offensive was beginning, but even this may not have been unconnected to the threatened NATO strikes. Washington made clear that its threat to begin bombing would not be put off by a cease-fire on the ground, so long as Milosevic refused to sign the Rambouillet accord. At a State Dept. press briefing on March 22, a questioner asked "how the United States and NATO would react if Mr. Milosevic offered a cease-fire and just a cease-fire"? Spokesperson James Foley replied:

... I refer you to what Secretary Albright stated yesterday: we're looking for two things, not one thing. We're looking for an end of military activity and a return to compliance with his October commitments, and we're looking for a "yes" to peace - in other words, a "yes" to the Contact Group peace plan [i.e., the Rambouillet accord].15

Thus, there was hardly much incentive for Milosevic to accept a cease-fire since, as long as he rejected Rambouillet, the bombing was coming in any event.


Was It Going to Happen Anyway?

The third argument advanced by the war's proponents is that the catastrophe was going to happen anyway. For example, in a recent interview with Jim Lehrer, President Clinton declared:


I absolutely reject the theory that some people have advanced that what [Milosevic] did was worse than he would have done if we hadn't bombed as early as we did. I just simply don't believe that. He had this plan laid out; he was going to carry it into effect last October. He didn't do it because of the threat of bombing.16


The editors of the New Republic went even further "Had NATO not intervened, ... this bloodbath would have been worse."17

The inevitability argument is based on two kinds of evidence: first, evidence showing that the mass ethnic cleansing was planned and organized, and second, Milosevic's grim record over the previous decade elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia.

That the expulsion of a large fraction of the ethnic Albanian population was methodically planned seems largely true,18 but irrelevant. That an action is planned in advance does not show that it was going to happen under any circumstances. NATO, for example, planned its bombing campaign long in advance. That doesn't mean though that the bombing would have taken place even if Milosevic had signed on to Rambouillet. Likewise, NATO surely developed contingency plans in the event that Milosevic invaded Albania, Montenegro, or Macedonia. But these plans were not invoked when no Serbian invasion of its neighbors took place. All military organizations develop contingency plans. That they carry out these plans under some circumstances does not demonstrate that they would have done so under other circumstances.

So the efforts of NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea to address "whether this appalling humanitarian situation is a response to NATO action or is something that was planned well beforehand"19 were quite beside the point. The ethnic cleansing was both a response to NATO and planned well beforehand. Needless to say, in arguing that Milosevic's actions were a response to NATO is not to justify or excuse them: his actions were grotesque crimes. When terrorists threaten to kill their hostages in the event of a police attack, and then do so, we do not justify or excuse the killing by pointing out that the attack may have showed reckless disregard for the welfare of the hostages.

Since NATO had threatened bombing as early as October 1998, it would not be surprising that authorities in Belgrade would have worked out their response well before March 24. Still, some of the specific pieces of evidence adduced to show Milosevic's long-term intention to engage in wholesale ethnic cleansing are consistent with other explanations -- many of them quite ugly, but not the same as what ultimately transpired.

For example, NATO officials have pointed to the augmentation of Serbian forces in Kosovo starting in December 1998 as proof that Milosevic had long planned his policy of expelling the ethnic Albanian population.20 But then what are to make of the build-up of the KLA during this same period (and before)? The fact is that both sides violated the October agreement and prepared their forces for renewed fighting in the Spring.21

Likewise, Milosevic's sacking of General Momcilo Perisic as Yugoslav army chief of staff on November 24, 1998 is said to prove that the population expulsions were intended all along since Perisic had made clear his distaste for ethnic cleansing.22 But Milosevic had other reasons for wanting to get rid of Perisic: Perisic had refused to take Milosevic's side in his conflict with the elected government of Montenegro. By ditching Perisic and another top official, wrote the Economist, "Milosevic has sent an ominous signal to Mr. Djukanovic in Montenegro and has perhaps averted an immediate threat of a coup against himself."23

The Washington Post cited what it referred to as some subtle early signs that Milosevic intended his ethnic cleansing. "In January and February [1999], for instance, a newspaper in Kosovo's capital, Pristina, reported that Yugoslav officials were collecting key documents and records from different villages in central or western Kosovo -- for safekeeping, the government said."24 But this evidence is not inconsistent with an expectation of renewed fighting in the Spring; if the plan were to ethnically cleanse all of Kosovo -- villages and towns, east and west -- why were records secured only from the usual areas of KLA strength?

So neither the troop build up nor Perisic's firing nor the document collecting prove that the ethnic cleansing would have taken place in the absence of the NATO bombing.

German officials claim that their intelligence services have discovered the Serbian plans for the ethnic cleansing, Operation Horseshoe. The documentation regarding this plan is rather thin -- neither the subsequent U.S. State Department report on ethnic cleansing nor the ICTY indictment refer to it25 -- but, in any case nothing in the German claims shows that the Operation was to have been put into effect no matter what. As Dejan Anastasijevic of the London-based Institute for War & Peace Reporting put it, "It is now clear that Belgrade prepared the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo -- code-named Operation Horseshoe -- months in advance. It was to be executed in the event of NATO bombing."26

The second sort of evidence that is claimed to show that the post-bombing catastrophe would have happened anyway is that relating to Milosevic's character. For example, NATO spokesperson Jamie Shea declared on April 5, 1999:

...there are three and a half million people who have been displaced by nationalism in the former Yugoslavia, most of it generated by Milosevic since 1991. And for 99.999 per cent of that time, NATO has not been conducting air operations. So the historical record is that President Milosevic doesn't normally wait for force to be used against him before either starting, or indeed accelerating, ethnic cleansing.27

Milosevic's record was indeed grisly. Even if Shea conveniently ignored those population displacements generated by others, particularly by Franjo Tudjman with United States backing, Milosevic has certainly been responsible for criminal behavior. To conclude that Milosevic was morally capable of massive ethnic cleansing is undoubtedly accurate. But this is a far cry from proving that therefore he intended to do what he did even in the absence of the bombing. Consider an analogy. Is Clinton morally capable of having his nemesis Kenneth Starr assassinated? No doubt: if one is indifferent to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians as a result of U.S.-imposed sanctions, then killing an additional Special Prosecutor would not present a moral dilemma. But showing that an actor is morally capable of an action is hardly proof that the actor will carry out the action. One needs to look at all the circumstances and judge assessments of costs and benefits.

With regard to Milosevic and ethnic cleansing, note first that none of those officials who presumably were well aware of the Serbian leader's level of morality expected ethnic cleansing on the scale that occurred.28 Second, there were many warnings -- ignored by U.S. decision-makers -- that the bombing might set off a tidal wave of ethnic cleansing. For example, according to Porter Goss, chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, "In February 1999, the head of the CIA, George Tenet, briefed congressional leaders ... that military action could include the chance of ethnic cleansing." Summarized Goss: "If we stuck a stick in this nest, we would stir it up more."29 The New York Times reported that "Pentagon planners, for example, said they warned the Administration publicly and privately that Milosevic was likely to strike out viciously against the Kosovo Albanians as soon as a possibility of military actions was raised...."30 And Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema told Clinton that the result of a failed bombing campaign would be 300,000 to 400,000 refugees moving into Italy.31

And there were warnings as well -- threats actually -- from the Serbs.32 Of course they were trying to manipulate the NATO response, but any hostage taker knows that you need to keep the hostage alive as long (but only as long) as the action you want to deter doesn't occur.

In considering whether Milosevic would have "done it anyway," we need to look at what he stood to gain by wholesale ethnic cleansing after the bombing and what he would have stood to lose by wholesale ethnic cleansing in the absence of bombing.

>From Milosevic's point of view, the ethnic cleansing was a rational response to the bombing. ("Rational," of course, does not mean moral or in any way justified.) The Washington Post reported that "Western officials said the mass urban expulsions were meant not only to empty cities of ethnic Albanians but also to provoke a humanitarian crisis that would overwhelm and distract NATO forces stationed on the other side of the border. 'They were pointed decisively towards Macedonia, in a very intentional way, like the old Westerns where they used to send a cattle stampede against the Indians,' said a NATO official."33 And the New York Times reported "Forcing the refugees over the borders, NATO intelligence experts believe, served another purpose: overwhelming NATO troops stationed in Macedonia with an unmanageable relief crisis, calculating that the task of feeding, housing and caring for hundreds of thousands of refugees would consume the alliance's energies and divert it from preparing a military campaign."34 This tactic was certainly callous and criminal, but it suggests that the threat of NATO intervention provided an additional incentive for the ethnic cleansing.

Moreover, if NATO was going to try to force a settlement militarily, there was considerable incentive for Milosevic to make sure he was in the strongest possible bargaining position when the fighting ended: i.e., to try to totally wipe out the KLA, uproot its mass base, and remove Albanians from as much territory as possible in preparation for any partition.

So why wouldn't Milosevic have ordered massive ethnic cleansing in the absence of bombing? The bombing provided Milosevic with the perfect cover for the expulsions. Unsympathetic though much of the Serbian population was toward the Kosovar Albanians, they would not have openly and knowingly endorsed mass atrocities. This is why Serbian propaganda constantly denied that atrocities were being committed and insisted that the plight of the refugees was the result of people fleeing NATO bombs. Anyone looking at the evidence carefully would have seen that NATO bombs could not have been the chief cause of the flight, but the bombing allowed those who wanted to be deceived -- whether in Serbia or abroad -- to ignore the grotesque Serbian atrocities. NATO bombing also provided an excuse for even more extensive controls on the Serbian media, permitting Milosevic to further hide his crimes.

Milosevic needed to obscure his atrocities not just from his domestic population, but from world opinion as well. The Serbian leader could expect some diplomatic support from the Russians and the Chinese only as long as they could plausibly claim that it was the bombing that caused the refugees. Without the cover of the bombing, they would find it difficult to ignore Milosevic's actions.

It is true, as supporters of the bombing have noted, that unarmed observers on the ground are no guarantee that atrocities won't be committed, as was seen in Bosnia, and Kosovo too. But the observers did provide some restraint because their presence made it much more difficult to kill in secret. The NATO bombing, therefore, by requiring the withdrawal of the observers, made the massive ethnic cleansing more likely. The day the observers were pulled out "was the day all hell broke loose," a NATO intelligence official told the Washington Post. "The Serbs were spring-loaded to go when the last observer left Kosovo."35 And the Guardian reported on March 20, that the "departure of international monitors from Kosovo will spur a humanitarian crisis in the Serbian province as tens of thousands of ethnic Albanians flee their villages fearing that a Serbian offensive will now be unleashed," adding that "Once the ubiquitous orange OSCE vehicles go, NATO air strikes will be of little comfort to Kosovo's ethnic Albanians if the Serbian security forces take their gloves off as they did last year."36

Of course, no one can say for certain what would or wouldn't have happened in the absence of NATO bombing. But those who urged and now cheer a policy that saw many thousands of deaths and more than a million displaced people have certainly not made a compelling case to convince us that their policy helped its supposed beneficiaries.


1. Some sources make it seem as if few if any ethnic Albanian civilians had been killed. For example, Regis Debray writes: "1700 Albanian fighters, 180 policemen and 120 Serb soldiers have been killed. The UCK has kidnapped 380 persons and released 103 of them, the rest being dead or disappeared, sometimes after torture - among them 2 journalists and 14 workmen." (Regis Debray, "A Letter from a Traveler to the President of the Republic," Le Monde, 13 May 1999, Translated by: Chavdar Naidenov, available at the ZNet website:; and the British Helsinki Human Rights Group states, "only 1700 Albanians (mainly fighters) 180 Serb policemen and 120 Serb soldiers were killed in Kosovo last year." ("NATO targets Yugoslavia: Report of a visit to Belgrade, 10th-13th May, 1999," also available at the ZNet website, Neither of these sources explains where these numbers come from, but both made trips to Yugoslavia in May 1999. Human rights sources, however, tell a very different story: Amnesty International's 1999 Annual Report states that "more than 1,500 people, predominantly ethnic Albanians, were reported to have been killed in the armed conflict by the end of the year. Evidence suggested that many of the killings were extrajudicial executions by the police, army, or civilians armed by the authorities." In addition, "hundreds" of ethnic Albanians were reported missing by the end of the year and "some 100 people, predominantly Serbs and Montenegrins" were missing and unaccounted for in KLA-controlled areas. Another Amnesty report (Amnesty International - News Release - EUR 70/05/99 18 January 1999, "YUGOSLAVIA - Kosovo Province: The truth behind the killings of 45 ethnic Albanians in Kosovo must be found") states "Over 2,000 people died after armed conflict erupted in Kosovo province in February 1998. Many of them were extra-judicially executed or deliberately and arbitrarily killed. Some 700 people, the majority ethnic Albanians but also including over a hundred Serbs, remain unaccounted for." Human Rights Watch reported "Most of the estimated 2,000 people killed through September were civilians." ("A Week of Terror in Drenica: Humanitarian Law Violations in Kosovo," 1999), and its annual report stated that "The majority of those killed and injured were civilians." The ethnic Albanian Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms in Pristina reported that in 1998 1,934 Albanians were killed, of whom 837 were women, children, or elderly (Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, "Report on the Violation of Human Rights and Freedoms in Kosova in the Course of 1998," Pristina, 22 Jan. l999, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea stated that the death toll had "already spiralled well in excess of 3,000 before NATO even got to the point of using force" (Transcript Press Conference NATO HQ by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea 26 Mar. 1999 and Air Commodore David Wilby, SHAPE), but the usual U.S. figure was 2,000: "we were carrying a figure of about 2,000 people who had been killed in this conflict." Julia Taft, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, White House Press Briefing, The Briefing Room, 2 April 1999. return

2. NATO HQ Press Conference 6 Apr. 1999 by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and Air Commodore, David Wilby, SHAPE. A Jan. 12, 1999 intelligence report from the German Foreign Office to the Administrative Court of Trier (Az: 514-516.80/32 426) stated: "The East of Kosovo is still not involved in armed conflict. Public life in cities like Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilan, etc. has, in the entire conflict period, continued on a relatively normal basis." See "Important Internal Documents >From Germany's Foreign Office Regarding Pre-bombardment Genocide in Kosovo" translated by Eric Canepa from documents obtained by IALANA; available on the ZNet website, return

3. U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European Affairs, "Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo," Washington, DC, 31 March 1999, return

4. U.S. Department of State, "Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo," Washington, DC, May 1999, return

5. KDOM Daily Report Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC., Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, 1 March 1999. return

6. The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia, Indictment, Slobodan Milosevic, Milan Milutinovic, Nikola Sainovic, Dragoljub Ojdanic, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, 22 May 1999, the Hague, the Netherlands, paragraph 97. Specific dates are given for 9 of the 10 incidents, the earliest being "on or about March 25." The tenth instance, in Kosovska Mitrovica, is said to have begun "in late March 1999." The U.S. State Dept. report ("Erasing History...") states that Serbian forces have reportedly expelled all Kosovar Albanians from Kosovska Mitrovica "since March 23." A Washington Post story (Daniel Williams, "Long-Hidden Troops Emerge to Start Pullout," 11 June 1999, p. A1) states that "Serbian police and militia units rampaged through the main ethnic Albanian commercial district" of Kosovska Mitrovica "[a]fter the NATO bombing began on March 24." return

7. Quoted in Elaine Sciolino and Ethan Bronner, "The Road to War: a Special Report, How a President, Distracted by Scandal, Entered Balkan War," NYT, 18 April 1999. return

8. State Department spokesperson James Foley said on March 18: "anecdotally, it seems to have been in the last number of days that they've really stepped up the military action on the ground." U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing DPB #34 18 March 1999, 2:45 P.M. return

9. U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing DPB #34 18 March 1999, 2:45 P.M. return

10. Kosovo Update Released by the Bureau of European Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, 17 March 1999. Two days earlier, the observers reported that according to the UNHCR "over 5,000 residents of villages around Dus fled Sunday morning's fighting. Most had returned to their villages, however, once the shooting stopped in the afternoon," suggesting that at this point the refugees were incidental to the fighting, rather than their intention as would soon be the case. Kosovo Update Released by the Bureau of European Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, 15 March 1999. return

11. U.S. Department of State, "Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo," Washington, DC, May 1999. return

12. "Holbrooke later described parts of his conversation with Milosevic. 'I said to him, "Look, are you absolutely clear in your own mind what will happen when I get up and walk out of this palace that we're now sitting in?" And he said, "You're going to bomb us."'" (Sciolino and Bronner, "The Road to War," NYT, 18 April 1999.) return

13. Sciolino and Bronner, "The Road to War," NYT, 18 April 1999; Steven Erlanger, "Reporter's Notebook When 'Fear Ate Everything,' and There Was No Place to Hide," NYT, 20 June 1999. Erlanger adds: "That is not a popular view in Washington and London, but Fehmi Baftiu, the director of the Mother Teresa charity in Stimlje bears it out. 'Before, the whole population of Stimlje, perhaps 13,000 and 35,000 with the villages, was here, and all the villages were full,' he said." return

14. John Kifner, "Emptying a City of All but Bodies," NYT, May 29, 1999. return

15. U.S. Department of State Off-Camera Daily Press Briefing DPB #35 Monday, March 22, 1999. return

16. Interview of the President by Jim Lehrer, PBS, White House Press Release, 11 June 1999. Clinton's claim raises another question. If Milosevic was going to conduct massive ethnic cleansing in October except for the threat of bombing, then why did he do it in March under the same threat? return

17. The Editors, "Mean Business," The New Republic, April 12, 1999 return

18. The particular means of expelling the population, however, seemed to be left to local discretion, which is why some villages had horrific massacres, while others did not. See John Kifner, "Expelling Refugees for a Relief Crisis," NYT, 29 May 1999: The paramilitaries "'were in there with Belgrade's blessing,' a NATO intelligence official said. 'What they would be allowed to do is up to the local commander.'" Of course, just as we should hold NATO officials morally responsible for unleashing bombs that they knew would kill civilians, even though the deaths were unintended, so too Milosevic cannot escape moral responsibility for unleashing known killers in Kosovo, whether or not he ordered the killings. return

19. NATO HQ Press Conference 29 Mar. 1999 by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and Air Commodore David Wilby, SHAPE. The State Department report, "Erasing History," is far more cautious: "The speed with which the campaign was conducted and the breadth of the operation appear to indicate that there was a plan to ethnically cleanse at least the KLA strongholds, if not the entire province, of its ethnic Albanian population." return

20. Jamie Shea, NATO HQ Press Conference 29 Mar. 1999 by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and Air Commodore David Wilby, SHAPE. return

21. For example, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote on Nov. 12,1998: "While welcoming reports of the withdrawal of Government forces in Kosovo to agreed levels, I urge all the parties concerned to honour their commitments and to comply fully with the Security Council resolutions. In this regard, reports of the return of Kosovo Albanian paramilitary units to positions vacated by Government forces and particularly by their continued attacks against security forces and civilians are disturbing." (Report of The Secretary-General Prepared Pursuant to Resolutions 1160 [1998], 1199 [1998] And 1203 [1998 of The Security Council, S/1998/1068, 12 Nov. 1998, para. 48.) And CIA Director George Tenet testified on Feb. 2, 1999: "The KLA used the cease-fire and the presence of international verifiers to reoccupy all the territory it lost last year, and it has kept up a continuous series of small-scale attacks against Serb security forces. Belgrade, for its part, has failed to comply with many of the provisions of the October agreements, including those pertaining to troop withdrawals.... (Statement of the Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, As Prepared for Delivery Before the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Current and Projected return

22. Craig R. Whitney with Eric Schmitt, "NATO Had Signs Its Strategy Would Fail Kosovars," NYT, 1 April 1999. See also Michael R. Gordon and Thom Shanker, "How Yugoslav Military Planned and Mounted Kosovo's Ravaging," NYT, 29 May 1999; R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge: Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999, p. A1. return

23. "Will Slobodan Milosevic Fall?" The Economist, 5 Dec.1998, U.S. Edition, p. 57. See also Richard Bassett, "Balkan Endgame?" Jane's Defence Weekly Briefing, 13 April 1999,; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Balkan Report, vol. 2, no. 47, 2 Dec. 1998, available at return

24. R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999, p. A1. return

25. The German organization IALANA has quoted the reply of ICTY Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour to the question of whether the documents on Operation Horseshoe' given her by the German government were useful: "As to Operation Horseshoe, I have my doubts as to its capacity to prove anything. If it were a document with cover, date and signature, it would be fantastic. But mostly such things [referring to documents given her by various NATO countries] look more like verbal descriptions and conclusions." (Der Spiegel, No. 17/1999 [April 27], p. 152, quoted in IALANA Press Information, Marburg, Germany, 29 April 1999, translated by Eric Canepa and available on ZNet,, under the title "Further German Documents.") IALANA further notes that "the documentation on Operation Horseshoe' has not yet been presented to the public for critical scrutiny; it is merely claimed to exist. It is still impossible to know whether it can adequately prove that already before the NATO air attacks the Yugoslav state and its organs had introduced measures for ethnic cleansing' of Kosovo...." return

26. Dejan Anastasijevic, "How Milosevic Won The War," Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 12 May 1999, return

27. NATO HQ Press Conference 5 Apr. 1999 by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and Air Commodore, David Wilby. return

28. For example, State Dept. spokesperson James P. Rubin told a press briefing on March 16, 1999: "we face the prospect of a new explosion of violence if the international community doesn't take preventative action. Humanitarian suffering and destruction could well exceed that of the 1998 offensive." ( U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing DPB #32 Tuesday, March 16, 1999, 12:35 P.M.) CIA Director George Tenet testified on Feb. 2, 1999: "Heavier fighting also will result in another humanitarian crisis, possibly greater in scale than last year's...." (Statement of the Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet, As Prepared for Delivery Before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Hearing on Current and Projected National Security Threats, February 2, 1999). General Wesley Clark said in an interview: "We thought the Serbs were preparing for a spring offensive that would target KLA strongholds, which had also been reinforced in previous months." "But we never expected the Serbs would push ahead with the wholesale deportation of the ethnic Albanian population." (R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999; Page A1.) And Jamie Shea, six days before his words quoted at note 27 above, acknowledged that Milosevic's previous record wasn't sufficient to explain what was then going on: "We all know President Milosevic's record but I think that even we have been shocked by the sheer proportions of what we see happening in Kosovo today. I don't think anybody could have anticipated that it would be quite as bad as it seems now to be becoming (NATO HQ Press Conference 30 Mar. 1999 by NATO Spokesman, Jamie Shea and Air Commodore David Wilby, SHAPE). return

29. BBC Friday, 23 April 1999, published at 23:13 GMT 00:13 UK, World: Europe, "Did NATO miscalculate?, Operation Horseshoe: How much did NATO know?" See also Thomas W. Lippman, "Albright Misjudged Milosevic on Kosovo," Washington Post, 7 April 1999, p. A1. return

30. Craig R. Whitney with Eric Schmitt, "NATO Had Signs Its Strategy Would Fail Kosovars," NYT, 1 April 1999. return

31. Elaine Sciolino and Ethan Bronner, "The Road to War: How a President, Distracted by Scandal, Entered Balkan War," NYT, 18 April 1999. return

32. "As the journalists departed, and with the NATO bombing already begun, adeepening sense of fear took hold in Pristina that the Serbs would now vent their rage against ethnic Albanian civilians in retaliation, a threat the Serbs themselves had issued often in the past." (Carlotta Gall, "Ethnic Albanians Now Fear Wrath of Serbs," NYT, 26 March 1999) Yugoslav General Pavkovic "made no secret of his intentions, warning publicly that his troops were poised to take care of 'internal enemy' if NATO went through with its threats to bomb." (Michael R. Gordon and Thom Shanker, "How Yugoslav Military Planned and Mounted Kosovo's Ravaging," NYT, 29 May 1999). "While diplomats negotiated in Rambouillet, Pavkovic made boisterous public comments denouncing the 'creators of the new world order,' threatening war and pledging that if NATO bombed, he would move quickly and forcefully against the rebel army, so that Yugoslavia could eliminate its internal enemies and prepare for external attack." (R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999, p. A1.) German Foreign Minister "Fischer added that he deeply regrets that he did not take Milosevic seriously when the Serbian leader told him in early March that Serbian forces could empty Kosova 'within a week.'" (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Balkan Report, vol. 3, no. 14, 14 April 1999.)



33. R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999, p. A1. return

34. John Kifner, "Emptying a City of All but Bodies," NYT, 29 May 1999. return

35. R. Jeffrey Smith and William Drozdiak, "The Anatomy of a Purge Milosevic's Intimate Understanding of His Enemies Facilitates His Campaign of Terror Against the Kosovars," Washington Post, 11 April 1999, p. A1. return

36. Chris Bird, "Kosovo villagers flee as monitors leave," The Guardian, 20 March 1999. return