Another Good Day at the Office, NATO Says After Killing Almost 100 Albanian Civilians


Robert Fisk

The Independent. London, 16-05-1999


A massacre on the road to Prizren, more than 100 civilians - most of them ethnic Albanians - torn apart in the village of Korisa, stories of women and children ripped apart by NATO cluster bombs. And how did NATO kick off its three o'clock follies yesterday afternoon? Without a single word about these frightful reports, not a single bloody word of astonishment or compassion.

Instead, Jamie Shea and his Luftwaffe general droned on about NATO's successful operations over Kosovo. `They went very well,' Major-General Walter Jertz informed us. `It was another very effective day of operations.'

In Saigon, during the Vietnam War, they had the five o'clock follies. In the 1991 Gulf War, the Americans boasted of their military successes at the four o'clock follies. In Brussels, NATO's follies start at three o'clock.

But yesterday, the Shea and Jertz show was theatre of the obscene.

All of us in the darkened Joseph Luns auditorium at NATO headquarters were holding our breath. Several journalists (the television coverage never shows this, of course) shook their heads in disbelief. There had, it seemed, been no safe passage in Kosovo. We were thinking of the first reports coming in - of NATO cluster bombs bursting amid 500 Albanian refugees, many of them children, of a massacre that would make even the Prizren-Djakovica slaughter in April small scale. We wanted to know about those who were young but would never grow.

But no, General Jertz of the Luftwaffe - or the `German Air Force' as we are for some reason encouraged to call it here - wanted to tell us that there had been 679 NATO missions over Yugoslavia in 24 hours, that there had been attacks on oil refineries, electricity stations, and the Batajnica airfield.

Projected on to the slide screen - incredibly - were the words «A GOOD DAY». Then Mr Shea - the Horatio Bottomley of NATO - launched into his usual denunciations of Serb atrocities, exhuming some old pictures of alleged mass graves and some (slightly) newer ones of burnt villages. [...]

When Mr Shea was asked about the reported massacre, he would express no compassion for the dead but «promise another of his full and thorough investigations». He hoped, he added sarcastically, that the journalists bused to the village by the Serbs would «insist on their right to go around freely and do their own research» - Mr Shea is now apparently a professor of journalism as well as NATO flak - and that they would investigate «ethnic cleansing» in the nearby town of Prizren. `You know NATO - we give the truth on these issues, every single time, the full facts.'

But it doesn't. NATO does not give `the full facts. It lies. When I asked for NATO's reaction to the KLA appointment of one of the most notorious ethnic cleansers as its new military commander - Agim Ceku, one of the planners of Croatia's ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Serbs in Krajina - Mr Shea said he had no comment because «NATO has no direct contact with the KLA».

This is totally untrue. NATO liaises with the KLA, holds security and intelligence meetings with its commanders, maintains radio contact with KLA men in Kosovo. NATO officials (including J Shea Esq) regularly announce KLA operations with approval.

When I asked General Jertz if NATO was using depleted uranium munitions in Serbia, he said it had not done so for two weeks but that depleted uranium is harmless. This, too, is a lie. There is growing evidence that the dust from spent depleted uranium shells has caused an epidemic of cancers in southern Iraq and may well be a cause of Gulf War syndrome. [...]

I kept wondering what this whole farce reminded me of... It reminded me of an undertaker's office. The mock soul-searching, the old pictures, theexpressions of regret. The cockney and the general were the morticians, as unable to contemplate an end to NATO's bombardment of Serbia as they were to arrest old age or find a cure for death.

Kosovo is dead. Its people are dead or dispossessed. For investigation, read autopsy. And after a while it dawned on me, as it has dawned on others attending these preposterous gatherings, that we are being prepared for the death of NATO.

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Lorenzo Peña

Director de ESPAÑA ROJA

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