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Editorial: You break it, you buy it

Arizona Summer Wildcat
June 16, 1999
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Their homes were burned. Their possessions were destroyed. Their countrymen were killed.

While the plight of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians is a tragedy and prompted NATO's airstrikes in Yugoslavia, two distinct groups of people had their lives turned up-side-down.

Yugoslav Serbs have been vilified by NATO propagandists who ran communications for the conflict. Because their leader, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, is a genocidal war criminal, the Serbian people have also been denounced as troglodytes who have whored themselves for their leader. The international community has been led to view Serbs as homicidal maniacs.

Granted, some are. TV interviews have shown many Serbians who refuse to breathe the same air as an ethnic Albanian.

They celebrate the murder of Kosovar refugees and praise the Ser-bian soldiers who rape grandmothers and 3-year-old children. For those Serbs, it is impossible to have sympathy.

But for others, who were raising children, maintaining households and working hard to support their families, this war has cost them dearly.

Those jobs are gone, those homes are leveled and families mourn the loss of their soldiers - many whose minds were so destroyed by prejudice that they bought into Milosevic's theory.

NATO's bombs ripped many lives apart, and it is NATO's responsibility to rebuild Yugoslavia and help the Serbian people recover some sense of normalcy.

A top United Nations official estimated last week that 350,000 homes within Kosovo have been significantly damaged and the U.N. Children's Fund reports that massive damage was inflicted on hospitals, clinics and schools. A NATO source who requested anonymity told The Associated Press that NATO bombs are responsible for some of that damage.

Now the responsibility lies with President Clinton and NATO to clean up their mess. Clinton has said the United States will participate in the war-rebuilding effort once Milosevic is removed from power, and it is imperative that he keep his promise.

While this assault on Yugoslavia has already been costly for the U.S., it is Clinton's responsibility - as the leader of the strongest nation in the world - to spearhead this effort.

The bombs were dropped to hinder Milosevic's and the Yugoslav military's efforts. But those bombs also hindered the country's progress. The land was ripped apart and industrial facilities were destroyed, eliminating any possibility of financial success for the already struggling Yugoslav economy.

Those plants and factories didn't just benefit the government. People live off those factories. Children are fed because their fathers have jobs in electrical plants.

NATO's mission was to stop the killing of ethnic Albanian children. But without NATO's support to rebuild the country, they will only be slaughtering more innocent souls.

Clinton called the air campaign a humanitarian mission. It's time for him to truly show sympathy for human life and save Yugoslavia from utter demise.