#PERIOD AFTER Slobodan, age 30, university teaching assistant - ???

Nato kills civilians accidently and Serbs do it intentionally

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It certainly seems like this from the western point of view. On the other hand, according to Serbian official media it seems totally different: NATO is killing civilians intentionally and Serbian military by accident. Is the truth only on one of these sides, or is it somewhere in between?

For example, Serbian officials from the beginning of the conflict have been claiming that all they have been taking precausionary measures in order to avoid any civilian casualties. In real life, in conflicts with the KLA (which is operating usually from Albanian villages), Serbian security forces blow up from a safe distance with grenades the houses from which the KLA are defending and most oftenly killing much more civilians, women, children and elderly people than the armed KLA soldiers. This is justified by the fact that the security forces do not want to risk the lives of it's members by sending them to fight from house to house.

On the other hand, NATO is claiming that they are bombing only military, communication and infrastructure targets and that they are undertaking all possible means of precaution in order to avoid any civilian casualties. In real life, NATO pilots are bombing from high altitude and before the attack they do not fly low so they could, for example, checked whether the target on the road is a civilian or military. Or before hitting the rail bridge to fly over the railway in order to check to whether a train is not near crossing the bridge. This is justified by the fact that NATO does not want to risk the lives of it's pilots, because if they were to fly low the bigger is risk that the Yugoslav Army would shoot them down. In both cases a great number of civilians are wounded. Sometimes, NATO hits only civilian villages by accident, sometimes not. Sometimes the Serbian forces by accident hit the houses in which only civilians are, sometimes not.

Serbian authorities claim that they are fighting in Kosovo against the Albanian terrorists and not against the Albanian citizens, with a humanitarian cause to secure a peaceful life and to protect the human rights of all the people who live there. In real life, mostly civilians are wounded and suffer and the KLA strengthens.

On the other hand, NATO claims to be fighting against the regime of Milosevic and not against the Serbian people, with a humanitarian cause which was at first supposed to stop the humanitarian catastrophe and when the catastrophe happened, to secure the return of the refugees, a peaceful life and to protect the human rights of all the people who live there. In real life, mostly civilians are the ones being wounded and suffer and the regime of Milosevic is strengthening.

NATO sometimes admits, as it was the case with the Serbian TV, that they are hitting civilian targets on purpose and causing civilian casualties (technicians, auxiliary staff). That is justified by claim that the television is propaganda machine and legitimate military target. When the question of civilian casualties is raised it is said to be 'a target of great value', so it is easier to accept civilian casualties.

By targeting strategic, infrastructure and communication targets NATO hits civilian population in 99% of the attacks. Bridges, railways, tunnels, factories, electric and water installations are used mainly by the civilians and seldomly by the army. But, if NATO estimates that something has even a slight military significance it becomes a legitimate military target. In real life, it is not important that the civilians are being wounded and suffer. In real life NATO is expecting that the sufferings and woundings of the civilians come to a dissatisfaction which would result with a pressure on authorities in Belgrade. That may help the NATO to achieve its military and political aims. That, is obviously not working.

The authorities are claiming that the kosovar refugees are not running away from the Serbian military but only from NATO bombing. But, anyone with a reasonable mind can not fall for that story. But, following NATO's logic of magnifying its military's significance, the ethnic cleansing can be viewed from a totally different angle and may gain a positive and even a humanitarian mean. Every successful military commander who has the aim to oppose any ground troops shall, in case the local population is hostile toward his forces cleans the territory. That was unofficially confirmed by many Western experts and commentators but hardly anybody dares to say such a 'heretic' thought on the leading western media since NATO's strongest propaganda trump-card is the disaster of the Albanian refugees by which they are justifying their attacks on Yugoslavia. In that case, it seems that the ethnic cleansing, from the military point of view, is legitimate. So someone may say (for example Jamie Shea, in case he was the spokesman of the Yugoslav Army) that the ethnic cleansing besides the military even has a humanitarian justification since in that way the population is protected from mass killings in case of the invasion of NATO ground troops in Kosovo. The fact that the Serbian forces, according to unofficial sources, kill or rape someone so the other would be in the refugee convoys, someone could justify by the fact that it is better to sacrifice some in order to save the majority. In real life, the fact that the civilians are suffering and being wounded is not so important. The most important thing is that there is a military or political justification.

In real life, the Serbian authorities are expecting that the tragedy of the kosovar refugees shall bring to a dissatisfaction in western media which would result with a pressure on the NATO to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia in order to help the refugees which are still inside of Kosovo and which are suffering the most. But obviously this is not succeeding. Nor do the Serbian authorities nor does NATO care alot for the civilians. In real life, when things are viewed from an objective point of view, there is not much difference between NATO forces and the Serbian authorities.

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