This is an extract from a response to the letter from London criticizing this site's skepticism towards stories of Serb atrocities in Kosovo.
It may be that some parts of the media have repeated Yugoslavian propaganda. But most of them have been spewing out a consistent series of lies, half-truths and subtle word-games which imply that NATO is telling the truth. Examples of NATO propaganda from the media:
"We've had a report from NATO" - National Public Radio, May 18. A military alliance doesn't provide "reports", it issues propaganda. "Babies Unharmed by Errant NATO Bomb" - The San Francisco Chronicle. Three paragraphs later, it mentioned that the bombing of this hospital killed people. Tim Judah, also on Nato Propaganda Radio, May 30, describes the KLA's recruitment of Agim Ceku from the Croatian Army: "Agim Ceku took part in Operation Storm which drove the ethnic Serbs out of Croatia - so he has considerable military experience". This bloody episode of ethnic cleansing is briefly alluded to, then forgotten in a torrent of exaggerated accounts of Serbian killings. Ceku is more of a Himmler than a Rommel, and has not been recruited for his ability to fight armed opponents. In contrast, Milosevic has been tried and convicted by the media: the BBC on June 3 reported US State Department spokesman James Rubin - "It remains our view that all countries, including Serbia, should submit all war criminals to the jurisdiction of the court" - without mentioning the legal formality known as presumption of innocence.
Worse are articles by Clinton's willing executioners, Stacy Sullivan in the New Republic and Daniel Goldhagen in the New York Times which claim that all Serbs are collectively guilty for Milosevic's alleged crimes. The specific crime Milosevic has been charged with by NATO - oops, I mean by the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia - the Racak massacre of January 15th, appears to be a KLA forgery. See Nine questions concerning the Racak dead in Liberation, Paris, and various other articles on Zoran.net about the massacre.
Another well-argued report questioning atrocity stories is this one, by the International Strategic Studies Association, following a visit to Yugoslavia, April 18-21:
"1. The Flow of Refugees: The international media, because it is largely on the external borders of Yugoslavia, has seen only the flow of refugees out of the country, to Albania and Macedonia. However, some one-third of the Albanian Yugoslav and other ethnic group refugees appear, in fact, to be fleeing further into Serbia, to avoid the Kosovo Liberation Army. Yugoslavia has already been burdened since 1992 with almost one-million refugees from Bosnian Serb areas and Croatian Serb areas, as well as Croatians and Muslims fleeing into Serbia-proper from what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
2. There is no doubt but that the NATO bombings in Kosovo and in the rest of Serbia have contributed heavily - perhaps overwhelmingly - toward the outflow of refugees, not only the Kosovar Albanians but many other ethnic groups who have been forced on the road with the destruction of their homes or their livelihoods."
Of course, the ISSA could be lying. But given a choice between NATO and some other organization taken at random, which is the most likely to be telling the truth? If NATO had any evidence of its allegations, would it not reveal it? Is it more likely than not that we have been given news which exaggerates Serbian crimes, and understates NATO ones? To ask the question is to answer it.
Alexander Cockburn's website, CounterPunch, tells the story of how the PR firm of Hill and Knowlton manufactured the story of the Iraqi troops pulling premature babies out of incubators in Kuwait City.
In 1993, the director of another PR firm, Ruder Finn, bragged of how his company had managed to turn opinion against the Serbs.
A particularly vicious invention was the picture of an man apparently starving, confined behind barbed wire. German journalist Thomas Deichman, in an article entitled "The picture that fooled the world", explained how the photograph was taken from inside the barbed wire by British journalists.
Whereas, when NATO really does bomb hospitals and convoys of refugees and displaces millions of people, the media claim this is an attempt to prevent genocide!
One of the mistakes made by the 'No War but the Class War' group in London during the Gulf War was its formalistic opposition to both sides, as if it were like world war one or two. It was not a war, it was a massacre. The same is true of this war. We should not equate the two sides. If you are going to talk about specific bits of capitalism - and you inevitably do, if you are going to say anything more concrete than "capitalism" or "the ruling class" - NATO is overwhelmingly the main enemy, whether you are in Yugoslavia or a NATO country. There is no need to be fair to both sides by scrupulously reporting atrocities on each side. The priority is to oppose NATO's campaign of murder by any means necessary and with any allies possible.
But why do I need to say all this? Anyone with access to the Internet can easily find hundreds of pieces refuting NATO's allegations. Treating stories about Serb atrocities skeptically is not an example of believing Serb propaganda. The burden of proof rests on the accuser.
Richard Tate, June 1, 1999.