The Wall Street Journal has run a small story saying it appears that the number of civilian deaths during the war in Kosovo is no more than 2,500. The Journal has thus confirmed what we were reporting at the time—that big lies were being told in order to justify U.S. involvement in this conflict. We were told of great atrocities and even genocide committed by Serb forces in Kosovo.
The magnitude of the deception was described by George Kenney at the recent AIM 30th anniversary conference. Kenney, who in 1992 was serving as the acting State Department officer in charge of Yugoslavian affairs, resigned to protest U.S. policy toward Yugoslavia. He noted that David Scheffer, the Clinton Ambassador for war crimes issues, had claimed at an early point in the Kosovo war that 100,000 men were missing in the province. The implication was that they had been murdered by the Serbs. Later, Scheffer upped that figure to 225,000.
Similar lies were told to justify U.S. intervention in Bosnia. The Bosnian Muslims claimed they were victims of genocide, and that as many as 300,000 had died. These claims were echoed by figures such as President Clinton; Madeleine Albright, now the Secretary of State; and Richard Holbrooke, now the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. The American media accepted these claims as well. However, by the end of the war, Kenney said his analysis showed that there were about 70-90,000 civilian and military deaths on all sides.
In Kosovo, he said the U.S. was determined to go to war, and that the Rambouillet talks that were supposed to work out a peace deal between the Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians were designed to fail. He said the U.S. knew that the Serbs simply couldn?t accept NATO demands to have complete access to any part of their country. After the war started and the Serbs didn?t immediately capitulate, he said NATO began hitting more and more civilian targets. Kenney implied this was deliberate, which is ironic since the U.S. and NATO had justified the war on humanitarian grounds to help the Albanians. But Kenney noted that the NATO bombing clearly accelerated the limited ethnic cleansing campaign against the Albanians that the Serbs already had underway.
Charles Wiley, an AIM speaker who has covered 11 wars, told the AIM conference that he traced much of the impetus for the war to a group of Albanians who ran an influential newspaper in Kosovo. He said the Christian Science Monitor had identified the paper as a source of information for many reporters and diplomats.
On the matter of how the war started, Wiley said the Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA, had swallowed up 40 percent of the province before Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic ever decided to counterattack. Wiley, who recently spoke at a British intelligence school and met with British officers, said their opinion was that NATO?s war against Yugoslavia was misguided and even illegal. They blamed NATO Commander and American General Wesley Clark, who was derided as “Dr. Strangelove,” for pushing the war. The Brits described Clark as a “scary” individual who was dying for a fight. He got it.