Comrades in armsBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b5022 (Published 24 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5022
All rapid responses
I usually enjoy Des Spense's articles he is humorous and often makes
a good case, but I must object to the lax use and ill-informed suggestion
in this article regarding the NATO intervention into the former
Yugoslavia, it's a myth that the "intervention saved thousands of lives",
like he states so flippantly, if anything the NATO action exacerbated the
situation and led to far more misery, death, and destruction. It opened
the door for the Serbian regime and their opposites in the KLA (re-invigorated by arms and training from the USA and Germany) to increase
their murderous attacks. This is besides the extensive casualties (mainly
civilian), that arose from the 80 day NATO bombing campaign. Which
destroyed an ongoing and active civil campaign against Milosevic's
government, and also helped destabilized the region further; the deadly
repercussions of which are still rumbling on to this day.
In the wider context of world peace and security, this was also the first
of NATO's expansionist wars, it set the framework for the subsequent
actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and made the idea of "Humanitarian
Intervention" appear acceptable.
If you recall the propaganda war at the time, a lot weaker than the one
now being deployed for the wars across the middle and far east, (the MOD
now employs more than 1000 PR people to spin these wars), but we were told
of "Smart Weapons" for the first time, and the nightmarish phrase of
collateral damage was introduced into the wider public arena! Phrases
which are still being overused and abused today, be it by NATO, the US led
coalition in Afghanistan, the IDF in its attacks on Gaza and Lebanon, or
any other military power trying to make it's murderous weapons seem
"humane". Something they are plainly not.
It also started the talk of accepting a Nuclear first strike policy,
(which NATO now has) and NATO's out of region "remit", passed soon after
the "successful" intervention. Opening the door to Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was also the beginning of NATO's expansionist strategy to bring into
NATO the former USSR satellite states, which is still causing much
friction in the region today, including the issue of the "Missile Defense
System" or "Son of Star Wars" project, which has again ratcheted up the
old cold war tensions.
It's alright to say, one, "now knows better", but this article doesn't
really persuade me of that?
Competing interests: No competing interests