The 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia
Returning to the scene of the crime
By Jordan Shilton, 15 June 2019
The imperialist onslaught against Yugoslavia was launched by the Clinton administration under the hypocritical banner of “human rights.”
By Bill Van Auken, 23 March 2019
The imperialist crime was launched by the Clinton administration—with the backing of the pseudo-left—under the hypocritical banner of “human rights.”
By Johannes Stern, 14 March 2014
Gerhard Schröder described Putin’s actions in Ukraine as a violation of international law, but the former German chancellor also accepted that he had been in breach of international law in Yugoslavia.
By Paul Mitchell, 11 April 2009
More revelations have emerged about tortures and murders carried out by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) during the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 and the occupation that followed.
By David North, 30 March 2009
The capitulation of Serbia to the US-NATO onslaught brings to an end the last major strategic experience of the 20th century. Its bloody conclusion endows the century with a certain tragic symmetry. It began with the suppression of the anti-colonial uprising of the Chinese Boxers. The century closes with a war that completes the reduction of the Balkans to the status of a neo-colonial protectorate of the major imperialist powers.
By Paul Mitchell, 12 February 2004
The first Western leaders involved in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 have appeared before The Hague District Court in Holland. This is the first time since the Second World War that Western politicians have testified in a national court about their alleged crimes against humanity.
By Tony Robson, 10 December 2002
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 breached international humanitarian law and caused long-term environmental damage, a report by the American based research group, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), has found.
By Chris Marsden, 2 May 2002
In the aftermath of the Jenin massacre, some questions beg to be asked. One obvious query should, by rights, be posed by every major newspaper in the United States and Europe: Why is Slobodan Milosevic on trial, but not Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon?
By Chris Marsden and Barry Grey, 4 July 2001
Whatever one’s opinion of formerYugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic—the World Socialist Web Site is decidedly not among the defenders of this former Stalinist apparatchik turned Serb nationalist and advocate of capitalist restoration—the events surrounding his capture and transfer to The Hague make a mockery of Western governments’ claims to be defending democratic rights and the rule of law in the Balkans.
By Dietmar Henning, 1 March 2001
Germany's Social Democratic (SPD)-Green party coalition government employed fabrications and manipulated facts to overcome popular opposition to the participation of the German armed forces in NATO's war against Yugoslavia two years ago. A German TV report by journalists Jo Angerer and Mathias Werth entitled “It Began With a Lie” provides proof of this.
By Julie Hyland, 14 June 2000
The following article summarises some of the main findings contained in the report on NATO's war against Yugoslavia issued last week by the British parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee. ( See accompanying article: “British parliamentary committee admits NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was illegal”).
By Julie Hyland, 14 June 2000
Last week the British parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee (FSC), a body with representatives from the major parties in Parliament, issued a 315-paragraph report on the lessons of NATO's war against Yugoslavia. The report makes the admission that the NATO bombardment was illegal under international law. It nevertheless argues that the war was justified on “humanitarian” grounds. (See accompanying article: “What the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Kosovo reported”).
By Julie Hyland, 31 March 2000
NATO Secretary General Lord George Robertson has finally provided limited details of the Alliance's use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition during its war against Serbia last year. Robertson disclosed the information in a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last month—four months after it was first requested.
By Chris Marsden, 16 November 1999
The International Crisis Group (ICG), a private strategy organisation chaired by former United States Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, reported last week that approximately the same number of Kosovan civilians were being killed every week under NATO's military occupation as in the months preceding the March 1999 onset of the US-NATO war against Serbia.
By Chris Marsden and Barry Grey, 9 November 1999
Substantial evidence has emerged refuting the central justification for NATO's war against Serbia—the claim that the Milosevic regime was conducting "ethnic genocide" against Albanians in Kosovo.
By Barry Grey, 13 September 1999
Only a few months ago the US government and the American media were engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to portray the war against Serbia as a crusade for human rights. The American and international public were bombarded with daily reports of mass murder, rape and forced expulsions of Albanian Kosovars by Serbian forces, and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was routinely compared to Hitler.
By Peter Schwarz, 4 September 1999
A “civil” and “democratic” society was to be established in Kosovo—such was the official rationale for the transformation of the province into a protectorate of the Great Powers. Three months after the intervention of NATO troops, the divisions in this society are emerging ever more clearly, and it would be hard to imagine a more repellant scenario.
By Michael Conachy, 20 August 1999
Propaganda claims that the US-NATO war against Yugoslavia was conducted in a humanitarian effort to halt “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo lie in tatters as Serbs and Roma (gypsies) continue to flee the province to escape harassment, intimidation, beatings and murder at the hands of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
By Bernd Reinhardt, 11 August 1999
Although many German-speaking artists took cover during the war in Kosovo, the Austrian writer Peter Handke stood out by sharply criticising NATO's actions from the very beginning as criminal.
By Jerry White, 4 August 1999
NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark reportedly ordered British and French forces to launch a military assault last June to prevent Russian troops from taking control of the Pristina airport following the end of NATO's bombardment of Yugoslavia. But the US general's orders were rejected by the British commander of the NATO forces on the ground in Kosovo (KFOR), who later told Clark he did not want to risk launching a world war by confronting the Russians.
Red Cross reports economic devastation
By Mike Head and Michael Conachy, 22 July 1999
In the wake of the US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the people of Serbia are confronting a “dramatically awful” humanitarian crisis—far bigger than that in Kosovo—according to a senior Red Cross official. People have no jobs, often no water and electricity, and face a desperate situation in the coming winter.
By Martin McLaughlin, 15 July 1999
Representatives of the ruling parties of Serbia and Montenegro met in Belgrade Wednesday, in the first official talks in more than a year between the two regimes which comprise the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
By Chris Marsden, 8 July 1999
On Friday, July 2 the Independent newspaper in Britain ran an article by its Belgrade war correspondent Robert Fisk entitled “Taken in by the NATO line”. The article presents a devastating picture of the role of the press corps in the war against Yugoslavia.
By Guy Leblanc, 7 July 1999
Canada's military is boasting about its role in NATO's aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. While the conflict lasted, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) were very secretive, divulging virtually no details of Canadian participation in bombing raids or other military operations. But in recent weeks the CAF has launched a propaganda offensive, extolling Canada's role in the “liberation” of Kosovo.
Some cracks in the media propaganda front: reports of grossly exaggerated atrocity stories in Kosovo
By Barry Grey, 6 July 1999
In recent days scattered reports have emerged in the American media of the inflated and misleading character of claims by US officials of Serb atrocities against the Kosovan Albanians. On June 28 the Detroit Free Press carried an article by foreign correspondent Lori Montgomery, datelined Prizren, which bore the headline, “Rapes not a policy in Kosovo: Assaults were individual acts by Serbs, evidence indicates.”
By Chris Marsden, 25 June 1999
Even as NATO military officials and politicians, visiting Kosovo on Wednesday, pointed to evidence of Albanian graves as vindication of the NATO war, a reign of terror against the Serbian population in the province was escalating.
By Ulrich Rippert, 24 June 1999
Churchill once said that in war the truth is so precious it has to be surrounded with a bodyguard of lies. In Germany over the last two months one clearly saw the fabrication of such a bodyguard.
the Editorial Board, 23 June 1999
Imagine that Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, a newspaper which has spearheaded the media propaganda campaign in support of the US-NATO war against Yugoslavia, carried an editorial written along the lines of the following excerpts:
the Editorial Board, 18 June 1999
As NATO forces extend their reach throughout Kosovo, the American and British media are seeking to bludgeon public opinion and justify the war against Yugoslavia after the fact. At the center of this propaganda effort is a series of reports on alleged mass grave sites found by NATO soldiers and Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas.
By David North, 14 June 1999
The capitulation of Serbia to the US-NATO onslaught brings to an end the last major strategic experience of the twentieth century. Its bloody conclusion endows the century with a certain tragic symmetry. It began with the suppression of the anti-colonial uprising of the Chinese Boxers. The century closes with a war that completes the reduction of the Balkans to the status of a neo-colonial protectorate of the major imperialist powers.
Biggest one-day slaughter in war
By Martin McLaughlin, 10 June 1999
The US-NATO air war against Yugoslavia culminated Monday in the biggest one-day slaughter since the bombing campaign began, with as many as 600 Yugoslav Army soldiers killed when their column was hit by cluster bombs from a single B-52 bomber.
By Richard Phillips, 10 June 1999
Almost a thousand people rallied in Sydney last Sunday against the NATO assault on Yugoslavia. The rally, including many Yugoslav workers and their families, assembled at Hyde Park fountain and marched through the city to Circular Quay. Members of the Greek and Macedonian community, pacifist groups and a small delegation from The Greens also attended.
By Julie Hyland and Barry Grey, 9 June 1999
Now that the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo seems near, it is being widely acknowledged in the Western press, and even by government and NATO officials, that the NATO-imposed “peace” will mean a new mass exodous of refugees fleeing for their lives—this time, Serbs and other minorities fleeing Kosovo.
By Martin McLaughlin, 9 June 1999
Several thousand people marched to the Pentagon last Saturday to protest the continued US bombing of Yugoslavia. The demonstrators assembled near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC and marched across Memorial Bridge to the headquarters of the US Department of Defense.
By Jerry White, 5 June 1999
UN officials warned Thursday that a humanitarian disaster was looming in Yugoslavia as a result of the 10-week bombing campaign by NATO. “In the summer, it gets very warm and that's an ideal condition for epidemics,” Stephan Vandam of the World Health Organization (WHO) told reporters. “With the winter and cold coming, then we're talking about respiratory problems and pneumonia.”
By Barry Grey, 4 June 1999
US and NATO officials said the air war against Yugoslavia would continue for the present, despite Belgrade's acceptance Thursday of NATO's basic demands for ending its bombardment of the country.
By Guy Leblanc, 3 June 1999
Canada's national capital was the scene of a 5,000-strong demonstration May 29 against the aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia by the NATO allies, including Canada. Serbian and Greek immigrants, students, and anti-militarists comprised the bulk of the demonstration, which began on Ottawa's Parliament Hill, then proceeded to the Ministry of National Defence and the US embassy. There was a heavy, even intimidating, police presence along the entire demonstration, but especially in front of the US embassy.
By Barry Grey, 1 June 1999
Events of the past few days have made it clear that the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was intended to buttress support in the US and Europe for NATO's war, while whipping into line those NATO countries—such as Germany and Italy—that have resisted the push by Britain and the US for a ground invasion. Clinton and Blair in particular have seized on the indictment to scuttle Russia's diplomatic efforts and insist, as they have from the outset, that there be no negotiations on NATO's demands and that Belgrade be driven to total surrender.
From the horse's mouth
By Barry Grey, 28 May 1999
In the course of a newly published article criticizing the Clinton administration's war policy in Yugoslavia, Henry Kissinger is obliged to expose some of the basic claims underlying the pro-war propaganda of the US and NATO. Appearing first on the May 24 Internet edition of Newsweek magazine, the article, entitled “New World Disorder,” carries the following blunt summary:
Cities blacked out, water supplies cut
By Martin McLaughlin, 26 May 1999
With the deliberate destruction of the electrical power and water system, the US-NATO air war against Yugoslavia has entered a qualitatively new stage. Gone is any pretense that the United States and its European allies are at war only with the government of President Slobodan Milosevic, and not with the people of Serbia.
Editorial Board World Socialist Web Site, 24 May 1999
Since March 24, 1999, the military forces of NATO, led by the United States, have been subjecting Yugoslavia to a devastating bombardment. Flying more than 15,000 sorties, NATO has pummeled Yugoslav cities and villages, hitting factories, hospitals, schools, bridges, fuel depots and government buildings.
Missiles hit hospital, embassies
By Martin McLaughlin, 21 May 1999
NATO warplanes resumed the bombardment of Belgrade, striking the capital city of Yugoslavia repeatedly the night of May 19-20. Bombs and missiles destroyed part of a major hospital complex and hit the embassies or residences of seven foreign ambassadors. It was the first large-scale strike on the city since the destruction of the Chinese embassy May 7.
By Peter Stavropoulos, 20 May 1999
The Yugoslav government has released preliminary data on the damage caused to the country during the first 27 days of NATO's air bombing campaign. The government figures, which do not include deaths or casualties suffered by Yugoslav military personnel, give a glimpse into the widespread devastation that has been inflicted upon one of Europe's poorest countries.
An interview with Professor Robert Hayden
By James Brookfield, 17 May 1999
In the course of a television interview Sunday, US Secretary of Defense William Cohen reiterated one of the central justifications for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, declaring, in reference to the Albanian population of Kosovo, “We have now seen about 100,000 military-age men missing. They may have been murdered.”
the Editorial Board, 15 May 1999
NATO warplanes struck the village of Korisa in Kosovo province Thursday night, dropping eight cluster bombs which killed at least 100 Albanian Kosovar refugees, most of them women and children. It is the worst single atrocity since the US-NATO war against Yugoslavia began seven weeks ago.
By Martin McLaughlin, 14 May 1999
In the US-NATO assault on Yugoslavia, accusations of genocide in Kosovo play the same role in the propaganda war as cruise missiles and cluster bombs in the air war. The claims that Serbian troops and paramilitary forces are slaughtering thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians, the comparisons of Slobodan Milosevic to Adolf Hitler, the invocation of the Holocaust--all these serve as weapons, if not to convince, at least to intimidate public opinion.
11 May 1999
By Martin McLaughlin, 8 May 1999
Officials of the Group of Eight--United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia--announced Thursday that they had reached agreement on the framework of a settlement of the war in the Balkans, after weeks of diplomatic maneuvers between the NATO powers and Russia. But the agreement leaves a myriad of unanswered questions about the future of Kosovo.
By Ann Talbot, 7 May 1999
Playwright Harold Pinter, an outspoken opponent of NATO's war against Serbia, presented a coherent and well-argued case opposing the military action on BBC 2 television last Tuesday evening. Using news footage and interviews specially recorded for the programme, Pinter showed how the media are being manipulated, and that the humanitarian justification for the war is false.
By Martin McLaughlin, 6 May 1999
US President Bill Clinton flew to Belgium Wednesday for talks with top NATO officials, including General Wesley Clark, the commander of the air war against Yugoslavia, amid press reports that the US and NATO are planning intervention with ground troops in Kosovo no later than July.
The fraud of NATO humanitarianism
By Peter Schwarz, 5 May 1999
A new edition of the German magazine Gleichheit (Equality), magazine of the Partei fur Soziale Gleichheit (Party for Social Equality), German section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, was published on May 1. It contains the most important articles to have appeared recently on the World Socialist Web Site. The following, is the editorial from the new issue.
By Vicky Short, 1 May 1999
The right-wing Spanish government has enthusiastically joined in the present NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
By Keith Jones, 30 April 1999
With few dissenting voices, Canada's political elite and opinion makers have applauded NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Indeed, Canada has been among the most bellicose of the 19 NATO states. Before the war was a fortnight old, Liberal Defence Minister Art Eggleton was suggesting NATO should consider a ground troop invasion of Kosovo.
By Ulrich Rippert, 30 April 1999
The repulsive spectacle presented by the German Green Party over the past weeks as a party of war and government defies description. When and where has there been a party which so fundamentally betrayed its principles in such a short period of time? Is there any parallel to be found to the complete irresponsibility with which the Greens have used their position as part of the ruling SPD-Green coalition? Every fundamental party standpoint has been cast to the winds, and one reads the present assertions by many leading Green politicians in government that they completely exclude any support for the intervention of ground troops in Kosovo as the anticipation of their imminent agreement to take precisely such a step.
By Martin McLaughlin, 29 April 1999
An American cruise missile destroyed a large portion of the village of Surdulica Tuesday in southeastern Serbia, about 200 miles from Belgrade, killing at least 20 people, including a dozen children between the ages of 5 and 12. Some 50 homes were completely destroyed and as many as 600 damaged, a staggering toll in an agricultural town with a population of 15,000. The missile struck near the center of the town, leaving a crater 20 to 30 feet across.
After the Washington summit
By Martin McLaughlin, 28 April 1999
Last weekend's NATO summit in Washington has been followed by a major escalation of the war by the United States and the European NATO powers on Yugoslavia, with intensified bombing of economic as well as military targets throughout Serbia and the deployment of more warplanes, troops and ships to the Balkan region.
Review of US media reveals:
By Barry Grey, 26 April 1999
The official statements from the NATO summit in Washington reiterated the two main premises put forward to justify the war against Yugoslavia. First, that the only motivation for the bombing is the humanitarian determination of the West to end "ethnic cleansing." Second, that the crisis in Kosovo has one and only one source--the genocidal policies of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.
24 April 1999
By Linda Tenenbaum and Peter Symonds, 24 April 1999
Despite its key role in the Balkans war, little has been made known to the general public about the political objectives of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) or Ushtria Clirimtare e Kosoves (UCK). Calls are nevertheless being made by the US Congress and the Albanian government for NATO to openly arm, train and finance this organisation, in order to expand its military operations in Kosovo.
By Chris Marsden, 23 April 1999
On Tuesday evening, at London's exclusive Hilton Hotel, former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret (now Baroness) Thatcher gave her first public endorsement of NATO's war against Serbia. Speaking at a gathering to mark the twentieth anniversary of her first assuming office, she described the bombing campaign as being "eight years too late".
the Editorial Board, 21 April 1999
Also in Serbo-Croatian
By Chris Marsden, 20 April 1999
A number of reports have appeared on the Internet critical of the campaign by NATO and the media to demonise the Serbs. Below we summarise three of these for the information of our readers. The WSWS is not able to confirm the veracity of all the statements made by their authors, nor do we necessarily endorse their political positions.
the Editorial Board, 16 April 1999
US and NATO officials acknowledged Thursday that American war planes had, the previous day, bombed a convoy of ethnic Albanian refugees in southwestern Kosovo. They continued, however, to deny that NATO planes had struck a second convoy of refugees and insisted that the killing of defenseless civilians was a "regrettable" accident.
By David North, 15 April 1999
If the first casualty of war is the truth, the second, it would seem, is the capacity for critical thought. Beneath the mind-numbing pressure of unrelenting propaganda--centered on the fate of the Kosovar people--a large number of usually intelligent people are losing their political bearings and supporting the US-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
13 April 1999
To the editor:
the Editorial Board, 13 April 1999
One of the most grisly atrocities carried out by NATO bombers to date occurred shortly before noon (local time) on Monday, when attack planes fired missiles at a passenger train traversing a bridge at the Serbian location of Grdelicka Klisura, 180 miles south of Belgrade. As of this writing ten corpses have been recovered from the wreckage, and another 16 passengers are reported injured.
Russia and the Balkan war
By Vladimir Volkov and Peter Schwarz, 13 April 1999
The effects of NATO's bombing of Serbia reach far beyond the Balkans. The most immediate and direct consequences affect the unstable inner equilibrium of Russia, and relations between the world's second strongest atomic power and Western Europe.
By Barry Grey, 10 April 1999
Escalating the air war against commercial and civilian targets in Yugoslavia, US/NATO jets bombed a major industrial complex in two separate strikes late Thursday and early Friday. The attack destroyed key facilities of the Zavasta industrial complex in the town of Kragujevac, 55 miles south of Belgrade.
By Vicky Short, 9 April 1999
Two demonstrations of between four and five hundred people took place within a few hundred yards of each other on the streets of London last Saturday: one opposing the US-NATO bombings of Serbia, the other supporting NATO's actions.
Behind the war in the Balkans:
By David North, 8 April 1999
Below we publish an open reply, prepared by David North, Chairman of the Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site, to a letter sent to the WSWS by P. Harris, a supporter of the US-NATO bombing of Serbia. For those who wish to read the text of Mr Harris's letter in full, a link is provided at the conclusion of this reply.
8 April 1999
Where is the outrage?
By David Walsh, 7 April 1999
NATO planes bombed the center of Aleksinac in southern Serbia early Tuesday, killing at least 12 civilians and injuring dozens more, some of them seriously. Missiles tore through high-rise apartment buildings and residences in the coal-mining town of some 20,000 people, 200 kilometers south of Belgrade. A correspondent for a private radio station reported that teams of firemen, soldiers and doctors were clearing the ruins and trying to help the victims. Serbian television reported that 10 buildings had been destroyed, including medical facilities. A doctor told a television reporter, "We are still trying to get out people from under the ruins. We don't know how many are injured or dead."
By David North, 2 April 1999
Also in Serbo-Croatian
By Julie Hyland, 1 April 1999
Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party has become the first party leader in Britain to attack the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia. In a five-minute television broadcast Monday evening on the BBC, shown only in Scotland, Salmond described the military campaign as "an act of dubious legality" and "unpardonable folly".
By Peter Schwarz, 31 March 1999
Little more than a week of intensive air attacks against Serbia has resulted in numerous military and civilian facilities and factories going up in flames and the deaths of an untold number of human beings. Also included amongst the first casualties of the war is what remained of the world order that provided Europe with a certain degree of stability over the past five decades.
the Editorial Board, 30 March 1999
Less than one week ago, according to no less an authority than President Bill Clinton, most Americans had never heard of Kosovo and would not know where to find it on a world map.
By Chris Marsden and Julie Hyland, 30 March 1999
Though the Labour government again refused to allow a vote on NATO's war against Serbia at the end of a parliamentary debate on Thursday, March 25, this would have been won comfortably. There was near unanimity on the Labour benches and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both pledged their support.
By James Conachy, 30 March 1999
Thousands of people, predominantly from the Serbian community, demonstrated outside US consulates in major Australian cities on Sunday, venting their outrage at the NATO attack on Yugoslavia. Eight thousand rallied in Sydney and 6,000 in Melbourne. Smaller rallies were held in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.
By Jerry White, 30 March 1999
Tens of thousands of people participated in worldwide protests over the weekend against the US-NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. Serbian émigrés as well as other workers and students opposed to the war protested in demonstrations held in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and India.
the editorial board, 25 March 1999
Also in Serbo-Croatian
By Martin McLaughlin, 20 March 1999
NATO warplanes could strike targets in Yugoslavia within a week, US and European officials warned Friday after the collapse of talks outside Paris over the future of Kosovo province. Some 400 US and European warplanes are being readied to launch the air strikes, which would follow cruise missile launches from half a dozen US warships in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas. The US planes, which make up fully half the NATO force, would include B-52 bombers equipped with additional cruise missiles.
By Martin McLaughlin, 16 February 1999
The United States will contribute 4,000 soldiers, including 1,000 Marines, who will be the spearhead of a NATO intervention force in Kosovo, President Clinton announced during his nationwide Saturday radio address. It was Clinton's first major policy announcement since surviving his Senate impeachment trial.