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The Bulletin of what?

by Lester Schonbrun (posted 5-3-00)

In "Smart Bombs, Dumb Targeting," featured in this month's "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," Bill Arkin criticizes some of the decisions made by NATO during the war against Yugoslavia but can't contain his enthusiasm for the potential benefits of precision bombing. He says:

"... in most cases, the level of accuracy is so much greater today than ever before that a "miss" hardly ever means that civilians will be harmed."

And, with pride, he says:

"Out of 10,000 strikes there were 90 incidents in which civilians were killed because of technical failures, or because they were too close to military targets, or because of errors in judgment by pilots or targeters."

Only 90 World Trade Centers. Only a few Murrah Buildings. Only 500 humans like Polly Klaas, if we believe Mr. Arkin's figures. (The list of those actually killed has four times as many names.)

Here are more quotes from Arkin:

"Like so many other targets that would be attacked in the ensuing 78 days, the Pancevo plant was expertly hit." ...

"Allied Force was fought with the utmost concern for civilian casualties and damage." ...

"Enormous efforts were made, largely successful, to avoid short and long-term civilian casualties. When mistakes or complaints did occur in the 78 days of bombing, changes were implemented and many unpublicized restrictions were levied." ...

" ... if NATO had taken greater risks in Yugoslavia - hitting harder and faster - it might have shortened the war while not putting the citizens of Yugoslavia at greater risk."

From all this it's clear that Arkin didn't have any relatives among the killed or injured or any other lens to help him see Yugoslavs as human beings.

Also, Arkin's almost autistic obsession with accuracy in bombing doesn't extend to his writing. He says at one point:

"This piece is not about the nature of the Yugoslav regime or the war's various political purposes ..."

But later, as part of his summary, he tells us:

"When air power is used - as it was in Yugoslavia - to halt a humanitarian disaster, ..."

That's NATO's handout, not the truth. There is no such thing as humanitarian bombing, or humanitarian war. To say it of a one-sided war which is prosecuted and propagandized by the US, UK, Turkey, et al, surpasses Orwell.

The "Bulletin of Atomic Scientists" should avoid tracts like Arkin's, lest it become known as the "Bulletin of Atomic Sociopaths."


Further reading...

"William Arkin's Dumb Apology for NATO's Smart Bombs" by Piotr Bein at

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