Deliberate? Possibly. A news blackout? Definitely.
By Bob Harris
ON MAY 7, NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing three and injuring 20. The bombing caused widespread anger at the United States and Britain, whose own embassies in Beijing became the scene for days of protest. Relations between China and NATO were gravely affected. Since embassies are considered national territory, the bombing of the Chinese embassy, if intentional, would be an unambiguous act of war.
NATO claims that the bombing was the result of human error. Three cruise missiles, we are told, slammed into the embassy simply because NATO was using an outdated map. China’s leadership–along with much of the world–still doesn’t buy it. But that’s NATO’s story, and it’s sticking to it.
Is it likely, though, that NATO intelligence didn’t know where the Chinese embassy was?
No. As a matter of standard operating procedure, NSA, CIA, MI6, and possibly the blues band NRBQ would have been monitoring communications from the Chinese embassy since it was first placed at the site in 1996.
Is there a more plausible explanation?
Yes. The Observer, London’s liberal newsweekly, reported last week that NATO’s bombing of the Chinese embassy was entirely deliberate. The Observer quoted three widely separated sources within NATO as stating that the Chinese embassy was bombed because it was transmitting Yugoslav military communications.
Why would the Chinese assist Milosevic? The Observer suggests that they might have wanted access to information on stealth technology that Belgrade had gleaned from the downing of an F-117 bomber at the outset of the war.
Moreover, the story also notes that the Chinese military attaché openly stated shortly before the attack that the embassy was monitoring incoming NATO cruise missiles in order to develop countermeasures. The attack on the Chinese embassy would therefore have had a clear military purpose.
Of course, since the NATO sources are as yet unnamed, the Observer story should be approached with caution.
But so should NATO’s denials.
Remember, NATO spokesfolks committed numerous deceptions and distortions regarding the Kosovo war, regarding items as fundamental as the success of the bombing strategy, the necessity, number, and causes of civilian casualties, and even the terms of prewar negotiation and the final peace agreement.
And if the bombing of the Chinese embassy was indeed intentional, NATO has tremendous incentive to continue its truth modification program. So does China.
If the Observer story is true, then both China and NATO engaged in direct violations of international law amounting to acts of war. Moreover, the story came out precisely as Jiang Zemin began a two-week tour of Western capitals to discuss both NATO’s military posture toward Beijing and China’s bid to enter the World Trade Organization.
AN INDEPENDENT press, however, supposedly serves the interests of the public over the state, pursuing truth over expedient nonsense. We might hope for at least some serious attempts to follow up on the Observer‘s report.
However, according to their online archives, here’s what America’s leading dailies have had to say about the news that NATO sources now state that the bombing of the Chinese embassy was intentional, for reasons that China’s military attaché has already partially confirmed:
The New York Times? Nothing.
The Los Angeles Times? Nothing.
The Chicago Tribune? Nothing.
The Washington Post carried exactly 93 words on page A14–headlined “NATO Denies Story on Embassy Bombing,” thereby providing no hint of what the story actually was–buried beneath news of an execution in Yemen and projected election returns in Botswana.
So did NATO bomb the Chinese embassy intentionally? We still don’t know for sure.
And if we are to depend on America’s commercial news media to find out for us, there’s a good chance we never will.
From the October 28-November 3, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
© Metro Publishing Inc.