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Lessons of war - media and disinformation
Le Monde Diplomatique
Lessons of War
Media and disinformation
For over ten years Kosovo bore the brunt of Belgrade's policy of apartheid. Then in 1998 repression of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was brutally stepped up. However was this really, as the flood of refugees suggested, a case of genocide that only Western intervention could stop? A year later this justification for the war waged by Nato has lost a great deal of its credibility, as has the supposedly "exemplary" media coverage of the conflict. The enquiries by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), by European and international bodies, and by a number of journalists, show a radically different train of events. Nor is the story over, for the Serbs and Gypsies in Kosovo are now the targets of "counter ethnic cleansing".
by SERGE HALIMI and DOMINIQUE VIDAL
"When we find out the whole truth I believe it will much harder than we can bear", said Joshka Fischer, the German minister of foreign affairs; he went on to prophesy a "1930s or 1940s-style ethnic" war in Yugoslavia (Le Monde, 10 April 1999). Rudolf Scharping, his opposite number at the ministry of defence went as far so to speak of "genocide" (Le Monde, 3 April), and even President Bill Clinton voiced similar fears of "deliberate, systematic efforts at genocide" (New Statesmen, 15 November). When Tony Blair joined in, he added two adjectives "I pledge to you now, Milosevic and his hideous racial genocide will be defeated" (The Guardian, 28 October). And it was therefore "in the service of order ... and in the name of freedom and justice" (Lionel Jospin, Le Monde, 27 March) that Nato bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days.
In most of the leading media, writers and broadcasters were to develop these themes throughout 1999. Zaki La?di evoked "the preparation of another Schindler's list" (Le Nouvel Observateur, 9 April). Francoise Giroud wrote, "Mr Milosevic is cleansing. Everyone has their own methods. They must be short of gas ovens in Serbia" (Le Nouvel Observateur, 1 April).
When Philippe Val defended the Nato intervention in Charlie Hebdo (31 March), going against the grain of the weekly's satirical, libertarian and pacifist traditions, he argued that, "If we were to replace 'Kosovar' by 'Jew' when we read the newspaper, Milosevic's troops would be organising pogroms, destroying villages, murdering men and driving Jewish women and children into exile. Should we intervene or not? I can sense your hesitation, even the pacifists amongst you ... We would definitely decide that something must be done to stop it."
MASSACRES OR HOLOCAUST?
At the time the news that Western leaders claimed to have from Kosovo was indeed truly terrifying. As a senior administration official explained to The New York Times (4 April), "There may be 50 Srebrenicas" (or in other words 350,000 dead). On ABC television news (18 April) another official claimed that, "Tens of thousands of young males may have been executed in Kosovo." The next day the State Department announced that 500,000 Albanian Kosovars "are missing and feared dead."
These figures were promptly taken up by French television. Jean-Pierre Pernaut, for instance, mentioned "100,000 to 500,000 people who are thought to have been killed, but that is in the conditional" (TF1, 20 April). The following evening the same channel announced, "According to Nato, 100,000 to 500,000 men are reported missing. It is feared that they have been executed by the Serbs ... Of course, we have yet to prove this accusation." Radio was keen to join in as well. On France Inter the journalist accredited to Nato enthusiastically passed on reports according to which "hundreds of boys are being used as live blood banks, thousands of others are digging graves or trenches and the women are being systematically raped" (20 April, 7 pm news).
In the articles penned by French intellectuals on the Nato side the indicative mood soon replaced the conditional. Antoine Garapon, a magistrate, secretary general of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, president of the Kosovo committee and member of the editorial staff of Esprit, wrote, "We cannot put the thousand or so Serb victims on the same footing as the hundreds of thousands of Kosovars who have been massacred" (Tel?rama, 23 June). He was already one step behind the official line.
Once the war had been won, Western estimates of Albanian dead dropped from six to five figure numbers. On 17 June the Foreign Office in London stated that "10,000 people had been killed in more than 100 massacres". On 25 June Clinton confirmed the figure of 10,000 Kosovars killed by the Serbs (The Nation, 8 November). On 2 August, following his appointment as Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Bernard Kouchner spoke of 11,000 Kosovars discovered in mass graves but the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague refuted the statement the same day. Even Le Monde diplomatique unwisely claimed in its August leader that "half of the feared 10,000 victims have been exhumed."
However nine months after the arrival of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) nothing in the findings of the investigators, sent by the ICTY or other international bodies, supports the accusation of genocide. Unless of course the term has become so debased as to be synonymous with "massacre".
On 23 September the Spanish daily El Pais wrote, "War crimes have been committed, but not genocide. The team of Spanish experts -- consisting of forensic scientists and civil lawyers - was quite categorical on its return from Istok, the northern part of Kosovo ... There were no mass graves." The Spanish mission, El Pais continued, "left Madrid at the beginning of August with the impression they were leaving for hell. 'We were told we were going to the worst part of Kosovo, that we should be prepared to perform more than two thousand autopsies and that we should have to work till the end of November. The result is very different. We uncovered 187 corpses and we are already back,' explained chief inspector Juan Lopez Palafox, head of the anthropological division of the forensic department. On the basis of their experience of Rwanda, the lawyers and police confirmed that what had occurred in Kosovo - or at least the area allocated to the Spanish team - could not be described as genocide. 'In former Yugoslavia,' explained Lopez Palafox, 'there were crimes, some of which were undoubtedly horrific, but nevertheless related to the war. In Rwanda we saw the bodies of 450 women and children, heaped up inside a church, and all of their skulls had been split open.' The chief inspector added that, in contrast, in Kosovo they had found numerous isolated corpses."
Two months later John Laughland confirmed this in The Spectator (20 November), "The total body count reported by the Tribunal is 2,108. Even if one assumes that all these people are Albanians murdered for ethnic reasons by Serbs, this is 1/5 of the number alleged by the Foreign Office in June; 1/50 of the number alleged by William Cohen in May; and 1/250 of the number suggested by the State Department in April. However, even this assumption is unjustified. First, in the vast majority of cases, the bodies were buried in individual, not mass graves. Second, the Tribunal will not say what sex or age the alleged victims are, let alone what nationality. There were many causes of violent death in the province: over 100 Serb and Albanian civilians have been killed in terrorist attacks by the Albanian KLA since its insurrection began in 1998; 462 Serb soldiers and 114 Serb Interior Ministry police were killed during the war; the KLA, which had tens of thousands of men under arms, also sustained casualties, as death notices in Kosovo towns announcing Albanian men killed in combat testify; and finally, hundreds of Serb and Albanian civilians were killed by the Nato bombing. (For that matter, over 200 hundred people have also been killed since the war by stepping on unexploded Nato cluster bombs.)"
John Laughland went on to say that Carla Del Ponte, the ICTY prosecutor, "insists that this figure [2,108] is not a final body count nor even a full census of the dead ... Instead, she implies that the final body count may be higher when examinations of the remaining 'crime scenes' resume in the spring. Paul Risley [her spokesman] claims the exhumations have been shelved 'because the ground is frozen'. However, there has been no frost in Kosovo and the ground is not frozen: on the day this article was written (15 November); it was raining heavily in the province and the temperature was 10 degrees Centigrade. The exhumations must, therefore, have been interrupted for some other reason and the suspicion must be that the winter break is an attempt to kick the embarrassing question of the low body count into touch for a few months, in the hope that people will soon forget about it."
On 22 November 1999 Newsweek published an article entitled "Grisly Math: The Atrocity Count Falls". It read, "Last April the US State Department said 500,000 ethnic Albanians were missing and feared dead in Kosovo. A month later Defence Secretary William Cohen told a television interviewer that 'about 100,000 military-aged men' were missing. 'They may have been murdered,' he said. After the war ... Nato produced a much lower estimate of the number of Albanians killed by the Serbs: just 10,000. Now it appears that despite some genuinely gruesome atrocities committed by the Serbs, even that figure may be too high."
To explain the difference between the tens of thousands of deaths announced and the 2,018 bodies actually found, the Serbs were accused of having destroyed the evidence of their crimes, including by cremation. John Pilger, an Australian journalist, set out to investigate these claims which centred on the mines at Trepca, publishing his findings in the New Statesman on 15 November.
He wrote that "The corpses of 700 murdered Albanians were presumed hidden there. On 7 July, the Daily Mirror reported that a former mine-worker, Hakif Isufi, had seen dozens of trucks pull into the mine on the night of 4 June and heavy bundles unloaded. He said he could not make out what the bundles were. The Mirror was in no doubt: 'What Hakif saw was one of the most despicable acts of Slobodan Milosevic's war - the mass dumping of executed corpses in a desperate bid to hide the evidence. War-crimes investigators fear that up to 1,000 bodies were incinerated in the Auschwitz-style furnaces of the mine with its sprawling maze of deep shafts and tunnels.'" Pilger was able to refute this report.
Shortly afterwards journalists Daniel Pearl and Robert Block visited Trepca. Their article, which was published on 31 December on the front page of The Wall Street Journal came as such a shock that the paper countered the following day with an embarrassed editorial justifying Nato's war.
"By late summer", wrote the reporters, "stories about a Nazi-like body-disposal facility were so widespread that investigators sent a three-man French Gendarmerie team spelunking half a mile down the mine to search for bodies. They found none. Another team analysed ashes in the furnace. They found no teeth or other signs of burnt bodies. In Kosovo last spring, Yugoslav forces did heinous things. They expelled hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians, burning houses and committing summary executions ... But other allegations -- indiscriminate mass murder, rape camps, crematoriums, mutilation of the dead -- haven't been borne out ... Ethnic-Albanian militants, humanitarian organisations, Nato and the news media fed off each other to give genocide rumours credibility."
According to The Wall Street Journal 10 years' war in former-Yugoslavia had left its mark on press behaviour, "Many journalists had experience in Bosnia, where the mass slaughter of an estimated 7,000 men from the 'safe area' at Srebrenica in 1995 was a warning not to be too sceptical about reports of Serb atrocities. Bosnia yielded three Pulitzer Prizes for reporters who proved atrocities. When Kosovo was finally opened to the foreign press in June, 'fixers' cruising through the lobby of Pristina's Grand Hotel offered to take correspondents to burial sites."
To describe what they referred to as "the mass-grave obsession" Pearl and Block cited the example of Ljubenic, a poor western-Kosovo village of 200-odd homes.
"On July 9, after getting an 'operations report' from the Italians", they wroted, "Dutch Army Major Jan Joosten mentioned during a regular press briefing in Pristina that a suspected grave had been found, and there could be as many as 350 bodies. He says journalists started packing their bags for Ljubenic before he even finished. 'Biggest grave site holds 350 victims,' London's Independent newspaper proclaimed the next day ... In fact, investigators found no bodies in the field. It now appears that the number killed in Ljubenic was about 65. That is how many names are listed in KLA-printed memorial posters."
In Der Spiegel, dated 10 January 2000, Erich Follath concluded after a long investigation, "To score points on the propaganda front the democratically elected leaders of Western countries occasionally used somewhat dubious techniques. The German defence minister distinguished himself by his excessive use of sensational news."
Follath went on to tell how, "at the beginning of April, Scharping spoke of 'reliable information on concentration camps in Kosovo'. Claims that the sports ground in Pristina had been converted into a concentration camp with 100,000 prisoners could hardly be expected to convince the experts, and pictures taken by German reconnaissance drones rapidly invalidated the propaganda statements issued by KLA leader Thaci." On 27 April an unrepentant Scharping exhibited "further proof of atrocities committed by the Serbs, in the form of pictures of murdered Kosovars. It soon became apparent that, three months earlier, Reuters had published equally horrifying photographs of this massacre perpetrated in the village of Rugovo ... According to Reuters the victims were not civilians but KLA combatants, killed to avenge the death of a Serb officer." Despite this contradiction Scharping nevertheless continued "presenting as fact the horrendous stories told by victims, in which the killers 'played football with severed heads, dismembered corpses and tore foetuses from the bodies of murdered pregnant women and barbecued them.'"
On 11 January 2000, Le Monde devoted a two-page spread to the bulky report on the war that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published on 6 December. Bernard-Henry Levy commented (Le Point, 14 January), "At last things are clear. First, Serb persecution of civilians, in particular Muslims, started well before the Nato bombing strikes. Second, it is in no way comparable with anything the KLA may have committed. Thirdly, according to Le Monde, the investigators have obtained proof that the atrocities were carried out in line with a premeditated plan and that, in simple terms, they would have occurred with or without the allied intervention. The debate is over."
The debate would indeed have been over if the article in Le Monde had included the summary that the European investigators provided in the third part of their report (the human rights findings of the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission, chapter 5. Violation of the right to life): "Summary and arbitrary killing became a generalised phenomenon throughout Kosovo with the beginning of the Nato air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on the night of 24-25 March. Up to that point, the attentions of the Yugoslav and Serbian military and security forces had been generally directed towards communities in Kosovo in areas that were on KLA transit routes or where there were KLA bases. In some of these areas the conflict was ongoing through 1998 and 1999. After 24 March however the general pattern changed and included areas that had previously been relatively quiet" (http://www.osce.org/kosovo/reports/hr/).
SERB CRIMES, WESTERN BLUNDERS?
Right from the start the lack of balance was written into the theory: any harm the democratic countries might do could only be unintentional; the Serbs, who were collectively guilty and collectively punished -- "Iraq-style" - were deliberately harmful. On this basis the sufferings of some would matter as little as the "mistakes" of others. However, as Reporters Sans Frontieres pointed out on 15 June 1999 "we might have hoped that a coalition of democratic nations, that claims to be fighting to uphold law and moral order, would behave more honestly that the dictatorship it is combating."
Article 3 of the statute of the International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) on "Violations of the laws or customs of war" prohibits the "wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity" and "attack, or bombardment, by whatever means, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings." At the beginning of this year several international lawyers sent a detailed file to the ICT arguing that Nato leaders had committed serious violations of international law. Nor was this restricted to starting Western operations without an international mandate.
On 7 February 2000 Human Rights Watch reported that "Nato forces conducted air attacks using cluster bombs near populated areas", with "90 separate incidents involving civilian deaths" and a provisional figure of "as few as 488 and as many as 527 Yugoslav civilians ... killed as a result of Nato bombing." Although they confirmed that they had found no proof of "war crimes", Human Rights Watch nevertheless considered that the bombing raids, justified by some at the time on the basis of legal and humanitarian motives, had "violated international humanitarian law."
Western breaches of the Geneva convention were actually recorded in articles in newspapers unswerving in their support of Nato. For example the US organisation Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) recently highlighted the fact that Dana Priest, the defence correspondent of The Washington Post, had reported, on 20 September 1999, that Paris' misgivings about targeting decisions were sometimes echoed by London, "Foreign Secretary Robin Cook questioned strikes on power lines affecting a large hospital in Belgrade. But the group brought him around."
The account by Dana Priest continued, "Shortly before a planned missile strike on the headquarters of Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party - which was located in a residential neighbourhood of Belgrade - an internal memo assessing the likely civilian destruction was distributed among Nato leaders ... The document read: 'Collateral damage: Tier 3 - High. Casualty Estimate: 50-100 Government/Party employees. Unintended Civ Casualty Est: 250 - Apts in expected blast radius.'" The article in The Washington Post went on, "Washington and London approved the target, but the French were reluctant, noting that the party headquarters also housed Yugoslav television and radio studios. 'In some societies, the idea of killing journalists - well, we were very nervous about that,' said a French diplomat."
Paris finally agreed to the strike. The Nato countries therefore violated article 51 of the Geneva Convention (Protocol 1), which, amongst other things, forbids "an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated." It should be remembered that the Western war effort, conducted at an altitude of 5,000 metres, went to such lengths to protect the lives of its pilots that they did not suffer a single casualty.
On 24 May, in an interview with The Washington Post, US Air Force Lieutenant-General Michael Short explained that, "If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, 'Hey, Slobo, what's this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?' And at some point, you make the transition from applauding Serb machismo against the world to thinking what your country is going to look like if this continues."
Talk of this kind led Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, to state that, "Nato bombed the civilian infrastructure not because it was making a significant contribution to the Yugoslav military effort but because its destruction would squeeze Serb civilians to put pressure on Milosevic to withdraw from Kosovo. Using military force in this fashion against civilians would violate the 'principle of distinction' - a fundamental principle of international humanitarian law - which requires military force to be used only against military targets, not against civilians or civilian objects" (The Guardian, 12 January 2000).
These criticisms have not prompted much response. Caught up in the turn-of-the-century festivities the leading media omitted to give the coverage it deserved to an article by New York Times correspondent Steven Erlanger, published on 30 December 1999 in The International Herald Tribune. Under the heading "Tribunal plays down Kosovo study: survey of possible crimes by Western forces is unlikely to be used", the article explained, "Officials of the ICTY said Wednesday [29 December] that a study of possible Western crimes in the recent Kosovo war is a preliminary internal document that is highly unlikely to produce indictments or even be published ... Mrs. Del Ponte herself emphasised that the tribunal had other more pressing tasks than prosecuting the Western leaders who had been the most supportive of the tribunal ... The preliminary report is understood to be a legal analysis of the basis for bringing charges of war crimes for Nato activities like the bombing of civilian power stations and bridges which Nato said military uses [and] the widespread use of cluster munitions, which Nato said were only being used against airfields and other military targets, but some of which fell into populated areas ... If Mrs. Del Ponte decides to take no further action, the document will be filed for historians."
And in similar vein most of the leading French newspapers concluded that the matter was closed. Their explanation was easily found. "Nato is not targeting civilians whereas Belgrade uses them as human shields" (France Inter, 16 April). It was an almost logical step for the bloody bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade to become "a slip of the trigger" (Claude Imbert, LCI, 14 May). This stance came close to the absurd when, after the premeditated murder of sixteen journalists and office workers, French television accused its Serb counterpart of being "a formidable instrument of propaganda: the news broadcasts are weapons controlled by Milosevic" (TF1, 23 April). So much for media solidarity.
Throughout the conflict the French media were quick to appreciate their own work. In this respect coverage of the war in Yugoslavia steered a middle course between lucidity exclusively restricted to "slip-ups" in the treatment of previous crises and immediate satisfaction as to the "exemplary" coverage of the current issue. In fact, the two went hand in hand. The tougher the criticism of past errors - Timisoara and the Gulf war - the more euphoric were opinions on reporting of the war in Yugoslavia.
On 1 April, less than a week after the start of the bombing, the head of the editorial staff at Le Nouvel Observateur was already exultant, "At the risk of being accused of corporatism it is fair to say that the work of the audiovisual media in this conflict has so far been exemplary. We have learned the lessons of the Gulf War." The miracle was accordingly celebrated, the better to silence a bad conscience.
Barely 10 years earlier, despatched to Timisoara to view some old corpses dug up by the propaganda department of the new Rumanian regime, a journalist from the France 2 television channel had commented, "These pictures are here to prove that 4,630 people died at the hands of the secret police" (22 December 1989). The following year the Gulf war saw journalists deployed in uniform. At the time, it was conveniently forgotten, both real-time achievements received widespread media acclaim.
The legitimate severity that followed frightened some of the French media's habitual admirers. Recalling the "Timisoara syndrome", the director of Le Journal du Dimanche chastised journalists for being overly wary of eye-witness reports by Kosovar refugees (2 May). Some particularly media-conscious intellectuals felt the need to criticise the "professional doubt-mongers and masters of obfuscation". Some went even further, "We rather suspect that the 'media plot' line has only been adopted out of spite at having been wrong and seeing the news belie initial forecasts ... They persist in denying the facts, locking themselves up in a puerile conspiracy theory, with the paranoid attitude of dissidents ... the systematic distrust and false lucidity that is just a sophisticated version of revisionism" (Pascal Bruckner, Liberation, 21 June).
Bolstered by these flattering comparisons with the past and the shameful aspersions cast on anyone who dared to criticise, the way was wide open for self congratulation. Television was the first to promote its own excellence. A newscaster on France 2 did not hesitate to say that, "Since the start of the conflict the French media, and in particular this establishment, have displayed considerable care and modesty. We have a vigilant attitude to all information sources, with a radically different angle from the Gulf war." This was echoed by the head of information at TF1, "The pictures of the fake mass grave in Rumania, that everybody broadcast in 1989, brought a new awareness of the power of audiovisual media. We now systematically indicate the conditions under which pictures are obtained, with a constant concern for accuracy and explanation."
Having set the tone, there was no limit to the self-congratulation that followed. "We have avoided the errors of previous conflicts. There has been neither disinformation nor spectacular naivety in reporting of Kosovo. Our vigilance with regard to the information provided by Nato has been constant" (Le Point). "We put a large number of reporters on the spot. We have tried to provide accurate information, that has been checked, and to play our part by analysing the conflict and putting it in perspective" (L'Express). "We have learnt to put things in perspective. We take what Jamie Shea, the Nato spokesman says, with a pinch of salt. We cast doubt on everything, as we can prove nothing and restrict ourselves to the emotion in the story" (LCI). "We have learned two things: no gloss to occupy air time when there is no news, and extreme care in how we pass on information saying exactly where it comes from" (RTL). "On account of the pitfalls of certain media during the Gulf War the editorial team was somewhat wary of official statements ... Despite a few hesitations that are inevitable when dealing with this type of event, Le Monde has more than fulfilled its contract to show, explain and discuss" (Le Monde). "Media in France have learnt from the mistakes of the Gulf War and may now be quoted as an example - for both sides - of how to track down disinformation" (Le Journal du Dimanche). "Our media are right to be so careful given the wealth of disinformation with which they are dealing" (La Tribune).
Though Franz-Olivier Giesbert criticised "Nato brain-washing" (Le Figaro Magazine, 17 April) and Marianne lamented the "Natoisation" of news on various occasions, the self-satisfied consensus was so contagious that it infected some of the few periodicals that remained hostile to the war. The weekly Politis unwisely conceded, "We are a long way from the jingoistic unanimity of the Gulf war, in which we saw fellow journalists working under the watchful eye of uniformed military experts" (1 April). L'Humanite adopted a similar tack, "Here is an end to showcase wars, dominated by continuous information synonymous with vacuous live broadcasts and recurrent journalistic blunders. Journalists are much more cautious in their reporting of the war in Kosovo than the Iraq conflict" (8 April).
The word "cautious" is certainly a little strong, even if, for it to be effective, manipulation must take into account the awareness of being manipulated and use other techniques than the tired tricks of the past. With almost moving frankness France Inter's Nato correspondent in Brussels explained, "I don't think I was ever manipulated or it was so well done that I didn't notice ... Basically, there is no point in lying because sooner or later everything comes to light ... I only saw the mistakes [made by Nato] which were corrected, in good faith I believe. They were also scrupulous in a way that hardly served their ends. Every time a strike hit the wrong target they took the time to conduct an internal military and technical enquiry. Then they told us, 'Well yes, we did destroy this hospital or that bridge just when a train was about to cross it' (Conference at the French Press Club, Paris, 28 June 1999)."
In the latter case we now know that Nato speeded up the film of the train coming onto the bridge in order to claim that the bombing was a "mistake". We also know how Nato manipulated the press. "'We had quite effective tactics for dealing with mistakes,' explained a Nato general. 'Most of the time we know the exact causes and results of these errors. But to anaesthetise public opinion we would say we were going to carry out an enquiry and that there were several possible explanations. We would reveal the truth a fortnight later when everyone had lost interest. You can shape public opinion, just like anything else'" (Le Nouvel Observateur, 1 July 1999).
At the end of the war the Nato headquarters in Brussels was understandably pleased. Jamie Shea even said on French television, "Recently a large number of journalists have said how much they appreciated our efforts to keep them informed" (LCI, 15 June 1999). There was no cause for complaint in Washington either. According to Richard Holbrooke, one of the masterminds of US policy in the Balkans, "The kind of coverage we're seeing from The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN and the newsmagazines lately in Kosovo has been extraordinary and exemplary" (quoted by Znet, 27 May).
One of these enthusiastic adjectives provided yet another reminder of the Gulf war. In an interview on CNN, on 26 March 1991, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater admitted that President Bush thought media coverage of the conflict had been "extraordinary".
Translated by Harry Forster
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