Why did NATO attack Yugoslavia in 1999, killing perhaps as many as 2,500 civilians? Here are some possible answers as Vladimir Golstein reflects back on that ugly episode.
By Vladimir Golstein
Special to Consortium News
Right across the street from my hotel, tucked behind tall office buildings, is the rather large Church of St. Mark. Hidden in St. Mark’s shadows is a tiny Russian Orthodox church. The Church of the Holy Trinity, known simply as the Russian Church, is famous for holding the remains of Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel, the Russian Civil War leader of the Whites. It is hard to find, but luckily, a friend took me there.
As we were looking around the church, not particularly interested in Wrangel, a couple of Russians asked me to take their picture in front of his tomb. Trying to find a proper angle for the picture, I noticed a small plaque on a wall nearby. It listed the names of Russians who died fighting for Yugoslav Serbs during the conflict with separatist Albanians in Kosovo and the subsequent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.
As we left the church, we took a small path toward the top of the park. There we observed another brutal sign of that war: a destroyed building next to the TV center. It too had a plaque. It screamed, “Zashto” (For What? Why?). Below it were the names of all the TV people NATO killed during that attack. In all, as many as 2,500 civilians may have been killed by NATO, according to the then Yugoslav government, though the real number may never be known.
On the one hand, the question Zashto is both idle and provocative. It implies a laceration of wounds, a refusal to forget and to start anew. On the other, there is an obvious need to find an answer to this question simply to prevent future destruction and senseless murders.
We won’t find answers to this question in the official narratives, which tell us that the noble Clinton administration decided to stop flagrant violations of human rights in the extremely complex situation in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo by bombing the Serbs into respecting minorities both on its own and on…