Fourteen bodies, shot at close range. Thirteen are lying in the field, rounded up before execution. One is slumped over in the driver's seat of a tractor used to work the field. They were farmers from Gracko, trying to salvage this year's crop after war had destroyed their homeland. Killed while working the land, trying to plant the seeds of life.
Their killers will never be caught. And their families will soon leave Kosovo convinced that there is no future there. How unfortunate, tragic, and very convenient. For the unlucky 14 were those pesky Serbs who decided to stay and make the job harder for the 30,000 NATO "peacekeepers." Those who, until a month ago bombed bridges and hospitals for a moral cause, now exclaim they are powerless against the murderous acts of thugs and terrorists.
Advertisement - story continues below
I recall the language study done after the Gulf War. "Our" bombs were always precise and surgical; "theirs" were monstrosities hurled at innocents. "Our" boys were gallant and brave soldiers of democracy; "theirs" were the dark servants of Saddam's terror. These words, unnoticed in the heat of battle and the anxiety over our loved ones fighting in the Iraqi desert, have embedded themselves in our minds. And so, after eight years, Madeleine Albright can say without flinching that 5,000 Iraqi children dying every month "is a price worth paying" and we listen placidly.
Comprehensive language studies of the Kosovo war have not been done yet, but to the careful listeners the creeping hatred of the Serbs in media reports was evident. Allegations became facts overnight and without evidence. NATO's words were taken at face value. Entire villages were declared dead only to be found alive later. The death tolls were exaggerated tenfold, multiple times. With new information coming in over the past few weeks - notably the overestimate of Serb deaths, Albanian deaths and Yugoslav army losses, it is becoming obvious that we were taken for a spin in a "humanitarian" war. Ultimately, this spin will mean that the Gracko 14 will be but a footnote in the grisly denouement of the Kosovo war.
Certainly, there are reports of the Serb exodus. But there are no gut-wrenching pictures of Serbian mothers and orphaned children on front covers of U.S. and British newspapers, no tone of moral outrage at this massive ethnic cleansing happening under the noses - and, perhaps with tacit approval - of the world's mightiest armies. There is no questioning of the cynical turn of events that placed NATO in the role of Serbs' only protector, while only two months ago that same NATO was doing its best to send Serbia back into the Stone Age. Our attention span, already sagging in the wake of the bombing, has now collapsed much like the bridges over the Danube.
This war was ostensibly fought to drive home a point that ethnic cleansing, ethnic hatred, ethnic violence and vigilante justice were concepts not dignified to enter the 21st century as part of human heritage. But as it became obvious that the bombing and the refugee flow coincided, the air war itself became an exercise in vengeance. Serb ethnic cleansing, violence and hatred were condemned and scorned, as they should have been. At the same time, Albanian cleansing, violence and hatred have been explained away by a legitimate desire for revenge. Such duplicity is definitely cynical and unbecoming of the moral crusaders, and tragic for the victims of violence and hatred. For in the final analysis, the innocents who die cannot care less for the reasoning behind it.
Advertisement - story continues below
And so the Gracko fourteen join all the innocent Albanians shot by the Serb militias before and during the bombing, the victims of all of NATO's "good faith mistakes" and the rest of the people trod over by the boots of war in the Balkans over the past eight years. They stand as a cynical monument to the fact that the people of former Yugoslavia forgot how good the things were before, and the hypocritical humanitarianism of the West in picking sides and abetting vendettas. Unfortunately, the monument is not finished yet. Many more could yet be the part of a price worth paying. Let it just be remembered, though, that this price is not borne by the American taxpayers, or Madeleine Korbel Albright, but the people of the Balkans, pawns on the chessboard of the New Humane World.
WorldNetDaily contributor N. George Malich is a writer living in Washington, D.C.