June 10, 2000 International Tribunal for U.S./NATO warcrimes in Yugoslavia
by Sarah Sloan
Sarah Sloan is a leading International Action Center youth organizer and an IAC Commission of Inquiry researcher. She spoke on NATOs claim that it tried to minimize damage to civilian facilities in Yugoslavia, and contrasted it with the numerous hits of schools and other civilian targets, and with later admissions that civilian targets were key to imposing NATO demands on Yugoslavia. This proves a violation of the rules of war.
The way in which NATOs war was carried out is indicative of the lies and the priorities of those who waged it. U.S./NATO bombs destroyed only 14 tanks in Yugoslavia. But they hit at least 328 schools. I would like to enter for the record that list of schools. This was not an accident. It was a matter of military policy. As such this entire policy is a violation of law regarding war crimes.
This truth about the war against civilians has been fully revealed in recent weeks. The May 15, 2000, issue of Newsweek described "The Kosovo Cover-Up." This article, based on an suppressed internal U.S. Air Force report, described in detail the discrepancy between Defense Secretary William Cohens lie that Yugoslav military forces were "severely crippled" and the fact, which the U.S. policy makers knew all along, that only 14 tanks were actually destroyed. This report reveals that the Pentagon decided early in the campaign that they could not quickly win the war and avoid large U.S. casualties by direct engagement with the Yugoslav army. Not only could they not find Yugoslav army targets from the air, the U.S. dreaded direct engagement because U.S. casualties would make the anti-war movement in the U.S. an irresistible force, as it was in Vietnam. This report shows that they opted for Plan B.
What was Plan B? And its possible it was actually Plan A. They targeted the civilian population, they terrorized the people, they bombed schools, hospitals, petro-chemical plants, irrigation ducts, auto factories, bridges, residential neighborhoods. I quote from Newsweek: "Air power was effective in the Kosovo war not against military targets but against civilian ones. Military planners do not like to talk frankly about terror-bombing civilians (strategic targeting is the preferred euphemism), but what got Milosevic's attention was turning out the lights in downtown Belgrade. Making the Serb populace suffer by striking power stationsnot plinking tanks in the Kosovo countrysidethreatened his hold on power."
There are additional examples that demonstrate this truth. In October 1999, President Clinton announced his opposition to allowing emergency heating oil to be supplied to Yugoslavia for the winter months after the war. Clinton and Secretary of State Albright said they hope to increase "discomfort" among Yugoslavs in an effort to incite the hoped for overthrow of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his administration. It was mid-December, a time in Yugoslavia when temperatures frequently fall below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Much of Yugoslavias oil reserves were destroyed in the bombing. This means U.S. government policy was to freeze Yugoslav people.
Systematic attacks on civilian populations have been repeated ever since the Iraq war. The civilian infrastructure of a countrymeaning the arteries of that country, its ability to provide electricity and transportation and other basic necessities of lifeis systematically destroyed. Bombing is combined with economic sanctions for maximum impact. The heating system is bombed. Sanctions are effected so that it cannot be rebuilt. And the intended, unavoidable, and calculated suffering to the civilian population is designed for one objective: the overthrow of a government by imperialism.
Its a new form of colonialism. Countries that are thriving, that have the potential to be regional powers, like Yugoslavia and Iraq, are consciously being un-developedtaken backwardsby U.S. imperialism. The military establishment is carrying out a war against people abroad, against human beings, who dare to defy the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank. This war was carried out in our name, but we say here before the whole world that the young people and the working people of Yugoslavia are not our enemies. Our enemy, the enemy of working people, isnt in Novi Sad or Belgrade or Nic or Pristina, its those who carry out the most vicious war crimes and crimes against humanity in the pursuit of corporate profit. Clinton, Cohen, Albright, Wesley Clark should be arrested and stand trial for their crimes, and with them we should and will indict the bankers and robber barons on Wall Street, whose lust for profit and exploitation drives them to ever new military adventures.
The only way to make the world safe, really safe, the only way to guarantee lasting peace is to remove the system that breeds war. This is our task: to abolish NATO. And moreover to abolish the Pentagon, and to build a new society to meet peoples real needs: jobs, education, health care, child care and human relations based on international solidarity rather than wars of aggression.
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