Take responsibility

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 3, 1999

From staff reports

NATO advisors said planned air strikes over Kosovo wouldn’t lead to human suffering.

Saturday, April 3, 1999

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NATO advisors said planned air strikes over Kosovo wouldn’t lead to human suffering. The goal was to end it.

Yet, their actions have backfired.

What would never happen has happened.

Reports of refugees skyrocketed.

Trains loaded with thousands of refugees are entering neighboring countries.

What had been a steady stream of refugees from Kosovo, dating from early 1998, suddenly has become a flood – an average of 880 an hour in the first eight days of bombing that began March 24.

The situation is out of control.

Yet, it was never supposed to happen.

NATO, and our government, failed to make plans for such catastrophes because it wasn’t supposed to happen.

Clinton administration officials were aware months ago of a potential humanitarian catastrophe if the Serbs and Kosovo’s Albanian majority did not reach a political settlement by the time the snows melted in the Balkans.

CIA Director George Tenet warned of this possibility in congressional testimony in early February.

While they overlooked such testimony, the evidence being presented daily can not be avoided.

It is now beyond offering food and shelter to a handful of refugees fleeing the bombing and attempted ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. It is now a world catastrophe – one all nations involved must take credit for.

If the mission of stopping Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his troops is to continue, another mission must be taken up – saving innocent lives.

It is time for NATO and the United States to admit their shortsightedness and help pick up the pieces that are continuing to fall around Kosovo.