After Korisa bomb atrocity

The evolution of a NATO lie

By Martin McLaughlin
17 May 1999

The greater the crimes perpetrated in the course of the US-NATO air war against Yugoslavia, the more outrageous the lies employed by the representatives of the Clinton administration and its European allies.

In the wake of the worst atrocity of the war, the incineration of nearly 100 Kosovo Albanian refugees in the village of Korisa by NATO bombs, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea and US Defense Secretary William Cohen both suggested that the Albanians had been used as “human shields” to conceal a Yugoslav military position.

The last time such a charge was made by the US military was in 1991, after a civilian bomb shelter in Baghdad was hit by a special concrete-penetrating bomb which incinerated several hundred victims. The Pentagon claimed, again without evidence, that Saddam Hussein was deliberately using civilians as human shields to protect a key command center. The only purpose of the charge was to distract attention from the US atrocity. Once the furor had passed, that issue was quietly dropped.

NATO's own account of the bombing of Korisa changed repeatedly in the course of 48 hours. First officials denied that there had been any military activity in the area, and there were suggestions, dutifully reported by the media, that the whole affair was an invention of the Serbs. After Western reporters were taken to the site and observed evidence of the slaughter, NATO eventually admitted that its bombs had done the damage, but they claimed the target was an artillery and command center, not an Albanian village. Last of all come the claims of the use of Albanians as “human shields.”

The shifting NATO stories are now a familiar feature of the war on Yugoslavia. Every bombing atrocity against the Yugoslav people has been followed by self-contradictory and ultimately discarded fabrications.

What is so remarkable about the latest claims is that NATO claimed on Friday that there had been no bombing activity around Korisa, and by Saturday declared that the bombing of Korisa was legitimate and justified militarily. NATO military spotters and targeters are cited as witnesses to the presence of Serb artillery and command facilities near the village, which were the targets of the bombing.

In other words, the latest account means that the first statement denying any bombing of Korisa was a flat-out lie. The subsequent NATO statements deserves no more credibility. Yet none of these lies is exposed or refuted by the subservient American media.

Despite the ignorant and ahistorical comparisons of Yugoslavia to Nazi Germany, it is NATO's shamelessness and cynicism which recall the methods of the Nazi “big lie.” The NATO claims on Korisa are particularly brazen propaganda, blaming the victims for the casualties inflicted by NATO's bombardment.