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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Few Errors No Excuse For NATO




NATO says it regrets the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy. The organization also regrets bombing the capital of Bulgaria, it regrets hitting that passenger train, it expresses sorrow over having destroyed that bus load of children, it offers its condolences to the residential neighborhoods of Aleksinac, Sudrulica and Nis, and it feels bad about the refugee convoy.


NATO also argues that it has only made about a dozen errors that have cost the lives of about 150 innocents f and that this is remarkably low collateral damage. That's true: NATO weapons are the most accurate in history. It is a cold triumph of technology that given such furious bombing they have made so few errors.


But who cares how accurate the bombing is if it's not accomplishing anything?


We are six weeks into this war, and for weeks it's been obvious the bombing has failed miserably. Yet it continues. It has now destroyed most of the remote and easily identified targets f radio towers, military airports f and has been reduced to picking out Belgrade street addresses. This ratchets up the danger of hitting civilians.


In a logical fallacy, NATO argues that this is acceptable because NATO pilots are still remarkably accurate. Indeed, logic seems to fly out the window whenever NATO officials start ticking off their statistics f 500 sorties a day above 12,000 feet, 9,000 bombs dropped, 18,000 missions flown, and so on.


No one ever seems to ask why NATO has to fly 500 sorties a day f accomplishing little of understandable value yet killing on average 25 civilians a week f instead of, say, 50. Would even Slobodan Milosevic really notice the difference if NATO scaled back to 50 sorties, or 10 sorties, or five sorties a day? Whoever decreed it had to be hundreds?


Errors could also be avoided if pilots flew slower, or lower to the ground. But that would increase their risk of coming under Yugoslavian anti-aircraft fire f and NATO prefers to kill innocents rather than risk combatants.


All of the errors, of course, could be avoided by halting the air war. The bombing is not stopping ethnic cleansing, and it is not building a bright Kosovo future. Halting it would help bring Milosevic to negotiations; if negotiations fail, bombing could always resume if need be (look at Iraq), or NATO could invade.


NATO has quietly stopped bombing Belgrade for now, but that's apparently today's grudging concession to Beijing. NATO stands firm by the overall policy and continues to hit other targets. In other words, it can't afford another embassy f but it can afford another bus load of children. Hardly the West's finest hour.