Release Date: April 14, 1999
Eric Margolis, c/o Editorial Department, The Toronto Sun
333 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3X5
Fax: (416) 960-4803 -- Press Contact: Eric Margolis

NATO's Phony War

by Eric Margolis

NEW YORK -- Slobodan Milosevic's Final Solution for the Muslims and Catholics of Kosovo is 50% accomplished. In a crime of monstrous proportion, a million Kosovars have been slaughtered, robbed, raped and driven like animals from their burning homes by Serbs, then treated like human garbage by the government of Macedonia.

NATO's response, a war by committee, has been half-hearted, half-witted and wholly inept. It took NATO's massive air campaign a full 16 days to deliver the same number of strikes as did the U.S. on a single day of the 1991 Gulf war against Iraq. Only 15% of aircraft launched carry war loads; the rest fly support. On Wednesday, after two weeks of theatrical but ineffective bombing, British Harriers finally managed for the first time to attack a Serb armored column in Kosovo - the whole point of the operation. If NATO can't defeat a mere 7 million Serbs, what can it do?

Any buck private could have told NATO's civilian masters air attacks alone wouldn't stop Serb ethnic warfare. The failure to mass ground troops around Serbia before air attacks began was an act of military, diplomatic and political idiocy. So is NATO's repeated insistence ground forces won't be sent, signaling Serbia would not be invaded and could keep its tanks and guns hidden from air attack instead of deploying them to repel a NATO assault. Serb forces in Kosovo are n~ using Albanians as human shields and hostages against air attack.

The inept, irresolute Bill Clinton must bear a lot of the blame for this bloody fiasco, which would never have happened if war veteran Bob Dole had been U.S. commander-in-chief.

NATO has launched another intense diplomatic effort to end the war it plainly cannot win without ground troops. In yet another act of folly, the Clinton administration is pleading with Russia to make the Serbs back off, even proposing Russian troops be sent to Kosovo. After struggling for 50 years to oust the Russians from Eastern Europe, Clinton is now inviting them back. Moscow is delighted Russia is skillfully using its ally, Serbia, to reassert influence in the Balkans, and to confront the West. Iraq, whose air defenses and air force are supported by Serb advisers, is crowing.

Serb leader Milosevic's strategy is to ride out the bombing, dig in - he and the war criminals around him have nowhere, save Russia, to go - wait for NATO to splinter, and make "peace" after completing what even UN chief Kofi Annan now terms "genocide." He must not be allowed to do so.

NATO should immediately begin the overdue massing of land forces around Serbia: Deploy part or all of the powerful U.S. 5th Corps in Germany to the Hungarian border with Serbia; Get Croatia to mass troops on Serbia's northwest border; Airlift the French- Foreign Legion to northern Albania, backed by NATO armored units; Order Macedonia, which lives on western aid money, to cease facilitating Serb ethnic crimes, and immediately accept deployment of NATO units on its border with Kosovo.

These units will have to stage through the Greek port of Salonika, as in World Wars I and II. Greece, which has strong sympathy for Serbia's anti-Muslim crusade, will resist. Athens must be convinced to afford passage of NATO troops or face being kicked out of the alliance and the European Union. This must include units from the largest NATO army in Europe, Turkey. Many would welcome seeing Serb forces terrorizing and murdering unarmed civilians finally face reg- ular troops.

NATO must get serious about this war. Milosevic's crimes have made any other solution unacceptable.

NATO must also sink Serbia's untouched navy; finish off its air force; destroy Yugoslav TV and radio; confiscate -Serbia's secret bank accounts in Cyprus; freeze all assets abroad and indict Milosevic for war crimes. This latest Nazi-style genocide is the result of the failure to prosecute war criminals from Bosnia like Ratko MIadic and Radovan Karadzic and, of course, their boss, Milosevic - or to punish the horrifying massacre of 9,000 Muslims at Srebrenica, the prelude to Kosovo.

But, most important, NATO must quickly get ground troops into Kosovo. Why, at a minimum, have safe havens covered by NATO long-range artillery and aircraft not been set up in southern Kosovo to save its tortured civilians? NATO quietly pre-positioned 36 metric tons of food rations before bombing began: it-knew Serbia would unleash ethnic warfare against the Kosovars.

Yet NATO, for all its bluster, still won't even name Milosevic a war criminal, and still keeps hoping to make a deal with this brutal, cunning thug. Which recalls the words of the Roman historian Tacitus: "They make a desert, and call it peace."

The one million Kosovars driven from their homes must be returned under long-term protection of NATO troops. if not, they will likely become the Palestinians of Europe.

Serbia's crimes have negated its claims to Kosovo. Belgrade must be forced to pay for rebuilding all the burned villages and towns. NATO should march into Belgrade, arrest Milosevic and his band of Nazi criminals - who have by now caused four wars, over 250,000 deaths, and 3.6 million refugees - try them for war crimes and end, for good, this Balkan nightmare.

[Eric Margolis is a syndicated foreign affairs columnist and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada.]

Copyright © 1999 Eric Margolis - All Rights Reserved
back button