Letter: Nato's regrets
Wednesday 05 May 1999
"We do not want a ground war and there will not be a ground war. ... But we do not say so." I beg your pardon? That is precisely what the British and United States governments said very clearly at the start of the war. This position is modifying, if all too slowly, as time shows the public to be becoming more tolerant of the prospect of casualties for the purpose of defending the Kosovars.
At the beginning of this war, Nato did not have the troops positioned to carry out an invasion of Yugoslavia. Attempting to do that with the force positioned to move in as ceasefire monitors would probably have failed with heavy casualties (assuming the countries in which they were based allowed them to be so used). The Kosovars would be no better off than now (possibly worse) and public opinion, now expecting defeat and heavy casualties, would be less likely to support further action.
We certainly need to move much more quickly to build up forces that could carry out an invasion if necessary, but Mr Fisk seems to assume that such an invasion will be without civilian casualties. If he believes that, he is even more naive than those who believe that a guided weapon will always hit its target.
Robert Fisk is right to remind us that innocent people are dying in Serbia because of our actions. We do bear the responsibility for them, and we know it. He is wrong to equate deaths caused accidentally in trying to prevent far more numerous and deliberate murders with those same murders.
He is scathing about Nato's regrets. We have yet to hear even regrets from Serbia about the deaths its actions have caused.
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