Ivo Skoric on Thu, 6 May 1999 19:43:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> On not killing the civilians

NATO does not kill civilians, at least they try not to, we should give
them that. And they have no intention of deporting Serbs out of Serbia to
create the Greater Natolia. However, the effect of not-killing civilians,
while in the meantime gradually depriving them of all the means to
survive, may end up to be just the same. 

NATO action is somewhat unique in that aspect of pledging not to kill the
enemy. The Serb re-action is basically: we would rather you kill us than
to have to yield to you. Actually, Milosevic uses the relatively low
number of human casualties so far (in relation to number of sorties and
tons of bombs dropped) combined with number of over-priced American
aircraft his artillery took down (it was 48 on my last count) to portray
himself as actually winning the war. Plus, he mastered American media
game: CNN and others can see only what he wants them to see, so we never
saw all those air-defenses that NATO claims to have hit in Serbia, but we
do see pictures of tomahawk-disemboweled civilians extensively. They do
remind oddly of the pictures from Sarajevo Market. I guess, explosives
work the same regardless of the type of society at the place of their

The most recent prank NATO played on the "belligerent tyrant" is to throw
Serbia back to the Dark Ages, or, as one guy in New York Times put it:
"...you want 1389? We can do it..." Using "soft" or "graphite" bombs (that
explode above the target and disperse a graphite film over the target)
NATO short-circuited Serbia's power distribution and 2/3 of the country
still has no electricity. To my best knowledge they did not kill any
civilians by doing that. 

The hope is that this would send a signal to Serbian people that they most
obviously are not winning the war since they have no power. No power means
also no TV. No power also means crime on the rise in the cities (imagine
living in New York city with no electricity for four days). The victims
would predictably be people with no connection or opposed to Milosevic's
regime. His gang has the most guns, so nobody would touch his. Not
disregarding that, the signal that was received among many Serbs is of a
shear terror. And for many Americans it became difficult not to have at
least some of the traditional sympathy for the underdog. 

The problem is that by removing the standards of civilization from the
people we remove the civilization itself, its laws, its principles. Ok, I
agree that in case of Serbia we do deal with a criminal regime. If Serbia
would be an American corporation, Milosevic would be arrested and tried.
Then again, should Tito have lived long enough to lay his hand on
Milosevic, he would be arrested and perhaps around now released after long
appeals by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. So, when we shut
off electricity to a city, we also change the social order in that city: 
statistically in the events of power outtage the more bestial part of
ourselves take over. 

The graphite bomb attack came after Jesse Jackson secured the release of
three US captives. I guess, NATO cared that American boys have
electricity. Power is arrogant. Power has no need for gratitude. The Serbs
behaved the same way when they had helpless Sarajevo prostrated beneath
their heavy artillery. So, is this war now about vengeance?  Because,
Kosovo is cleansed by Serbs and scorched by NATO. And it is clear that at
least some of the refugees are up for permanent relocation. The U.S.
earlier said that they would take refugees to Guam and Guantanamo Bay (not
many raised their hand) now the government hires Albanian translators in
New Jersey. 

My brother in Zagreb says that "Belgraders now get to see what we had
seen..", thinking of the brief period when Zagreb was in range of Yugoslav
Army Frog/Luna missiles, so Zagreb had air sirens going off and my brother
running five flights down to basement for no reason (and then five flights
up, no elevator). Generally, Milosevic has no friends. All Serbia's
neighbors are eerily happy to help NATO on its mission of destruction of
entire Serbia's infrastructure. He takes everything to his advantage, so
he uses this fact to build up the bunker mentality in Serbs. Turning the
lights off in that bunker might not be of the big help to anybody. 

Ivo Skoric

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