The Observer - Balkan fiasco

Sunday November 28, 1999

The explanation by Nato and the United States of how its aircraft came to bomb the Chinese embassy during the Kosovo War is becoming more and more unbelievable. Despite the indignant denials of CIA director George Tenet, more senior Nato officers have come forward to confirm The Observer's account that the embassy was deliberately targeted by US bombers, acting outside the Nato joint chain of command. Their testimony has been consistent - that far from being a targeting error, it was attacked after being detected broadcasting signals for the Yugoslav military and paramilitary units of the indicted war criminal, Arkan.

The questions raised by The Observer's six-week long investigation into this pivotal moment in the conflict against Yugoslavia demand urgent answers. China, which has long pursued a relationship with Slobodan Milosevic, has to explain its actions in assisting a regime condemned by UN sanctions. But more pressing is an explanation from the United States over the way in which it disregarded its Nato partners to launch an illegal attack against a diplomatic mission, which risked the emerging consensus for the terms of a negotiated peace almost at the moment that it was achieved.

If the US wants to hold Nato together and cement its relationship with China, then it needs to do better than simply deny the mounting evidence. If there was any muscle behind the new world order, we would look to the UN, which has the moral if not legal standing to prosecute such a task, to launch an inquiry. But we are realistic about the UN's weaknesses. Instead, it is left to America's partners in the war against Yugoslavia to investigate what they know of this affair. For this reason, we are calling on the Defence and Foreign Affairs Select Committees to ask what our senior servicemen knew. As the French government has vociferously complained, the United States should not be allowed to operate independently in Nato. And while an inquiry by our own MPs cannot compel an errant ally, it can embarrass. That remains a powerful weapon.,3879,108768,00.html

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