The Kosovo Body Count
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER , Monday, November 22, 1999 EDITORIAL
Critics of the Clinton administration's war on Serbia , including the Register Editorial Board, endured the barbs of those who insisted that to oppose the bombing of a sovereign nation was the same as turning a blind eye toward genocide.
But months after the bombing has ceased, United Nations and European Union investigations have bolstered what critics had argued: NATO'S estimates of Serbian genocide against the Kosovar's were greatly overblown. Many observers now think the inflated numbers simply were part of the US.-led propaganda to build support for the war.
We recall press conferences where officials somberly pointed to aerial photographs of suspected mass graves. Yet very little evidence subsequently has been offered. The latest evidence suggests that fewer than 3,000 Kosovars were murdered--horrifying, yes, but in the range of the number of Serbs who were killed by NATO bombing attacks on Yugoslavia roughly estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers and civilians.
The TV networks and national media haven't emphasized the data. But thanks to international media, smaller and specialty publications and the Internet, the truth is beginning to come out about Kosovo.
"The Trepca mines in Kosovo were alleged to hold 1,000 bodies of Albanians murdered by Serbs," wrote Brian Mitchell in Investor's Business Daily. "If the bodies weren't just dumped down mine shafts, they were supposed to have been burnt or dissolved in acid in the mines' smelter...But no bodies were found at Trepca. No human remains at all... ."
About 2,100 bodies have been found so far, some in mass grave sites. It's not certain whether most of these people - not all of them were Kosovars - died in battle or were murdered. Final body counts are likely to increase that number slightly, but experts say they won't come anywhere near the 100,000 or more mass exterminations pointed to by NATO officials during the war, according to several published reports.
"It is sad enough that, under the cover of war, Serbs and Albanians killed one another even in these numbers," wrote Sam Schulman in the Jewish World Review. But it is "criminal," he wrote the "under the protecion of U.N. forces Albanians are now killing Serbs with virtual impunity. ...And it is a profound horror that our government under-took a war against unarmed civilians in order to stop a mass deportation that had not happened. Moreover they did so in a way that inflicted killing solely on civilian targets."
And it is unconscionable, we would add, that the United States government continues to point to Kosovo as a foreign policy success and that so little about the mass-grave findings have been reported on American TV, news magazines and other media.