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Dalyell questions Serbia bombing

The Scotsman; Edinburgh; Sep 16, 1999

THE controversy surrounding NATO's attacks on Serbia deepened last night after Tam Dalyell, the veteran Labour MP, claimed that the bombing had left thousands out of work and caused serious pollution.

Mr Dalyell's attacks came as Lord Robertson, the Defence Secretary, revealed that NATO could have mounted its threatened land invasion of Kosovo this week if President Milosevic had not backed down.

Mr Dalyell said he had seen widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure during an unofficial visit to Serbia last weekend, including the leakage of numerous carcinogenic chemicals from a bombed oil refinery.

`Writing in The Scotsman, the MP for Linlithgow said: "Pictures simply cannot convey the havoc caused by the NATO air strikes. I have no notion as to how Serbia, now the poorest country in Europe in terms of income per head, is expected to repair the great solid edifices of the Austro-Hungarian empire reduced a to rubble and twisted metal or the other more modern, buildings of Belgrade, such as the TV station.

"The world has to make judgments on whether bombing oil refineries and chemical plants is acceptable as an instrument of modern war," he said.

Defending the bombing in his last major speech before taking over as NATO secretary general, Lord Robertson said the alliance had selected 15 September as a possible "D-Day" for "intense ground combat" against Serb troops.

He dismissed criticisms of the decision to bomb Kosovo and Serbia by insisting that NATO had been left with no choice.

"With the alliance's fundamental aim - to put an end to Milosevic's butchery and repression - now secured and attention focused on the task of rebuilding Kosovo, it is easy to forget the enormity of what Milosevic did," he told the Foreign Policy Centre.

Although he indirectly admitted that NATO did not destroy as many tanks as it claimed, he said the bombing achieved a similar object by forcing Serbia's armour to remain hidden.

Lord Robertson also said he would overhaul Europe's armed forces defence spending, to better equip them for future crisis intervention.

Copyright Scotsman Publications Sep 16, 1999

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