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4 Apr, 2014 05:36

Bombs for peace: NATO marks 65 year anniversary

Bombs for peace: NATO marks 65 year anniversary

NATO was long touted as a post-WWII body of collective security, though few on the wrong end of its bombing campaigns have felt any safer for it. Here are a few reasons why 65 years of NATO haven’t made the world a better place.

NATO was founded as a post WWII force “to keep the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down.”

AFP Photo / Georges Gobet

But for over 40 years, the alliance barely made a peep, getting involved in its first hot war after its Cold War rival had already exited history’s stage.

A Bosnian Serb woman makes her way between vehicles of a US troop convoy of the NATO peace enforcement forcce (IFOR) on a dirt road near Pelagicevo in a Serb-held area of the northern Bosnian Posavina corridor 02 January 1996.(AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

In Bosnia, NATO got Security Council approval every step of the way from 1992-1996, as it set up no-fly zones to protect “safe areas” and UN peacekeepers on the ground, as warring factions tore the former Yugoslavia apart.

AFP Photo

On 28 February 1994, NATO engaged in the first combat operations in its history when its fighters shot down four Bosnian Serb fighter-bombers conducting a bombing mission in violation of the No-Fly Zone.

US F-16 fighting Falcon takes off from Aviano airbase February 9th for NATO operation "Deny Flight" over Bosnia.(Reuters)

They also set up a naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea to stem the tide of arms and military equipment flowing into the former Yugoslavia, though it was a series of airstrikes known as Dead Eye and Deliberate Force that brought the Serbs to the negotiating table.

U.S. aviation ordnancemen walk next to three F/A-18 Hornet on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the Adriatic sea January 22, 1999.(Reuters)

Since then, it’s gotten, how shall we put this, bigger, like a heck of a lot bigger.

Reuters / Arben Celi

As NATO began aggressively expanding, in 1999 the alliance threw UN mandates out of the window when they started a 78-day bombing campaign of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, after negotiations reportedly “broke down.”

People travel on the tram as they pass a destroyed building of the former federal military headquarters in Belgrade March 24, 2009.(Reuters / Marko Djurica )

It’s reported that up to 2,000 Yugoslav civilians were killed in the NATO airstrikes.

A Kosovo Albanian woman walks on March 22, 2014 past former Yugoslav army barracks, near the town of Mitrovica, which were destroyed during the 1999 NATO air campaign against Serbia.(AFP Photo / Armend Nimani)

The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade also didn’t fair too well.

A worker operates a bulldozer during the demolition of the former Chinese embassy in Belgrade November 10, 2010.(Reuters / Marko Djurica)

“There is always a cost to defeat an evil. It never comes free, unfortunately. But the cost of failure to defeat a great evil is far higher," said NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said at the time.

A Kosovar boy throws stones in a the flooded crater of bomb dropped during NATO strikes against Yugoslavia 01 July 1999 on a road between Malisevo and Pristina, southwestern Kosovo.(AFP Photo / Jean-Philippe Ksiazek)

Two years on, NATO evoked Article 5 of its treaty requiring the alliance to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack for the first time in over half a century following the 9/11 attacks.

This 11 September, 2001 file photo shows smoke billowing up after the first of the two towers of the World Trade Center collapses in New York City.(AFP Photo / Henny Ray Abrams)

The NATO led-International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was first tasked with securing Kabul, though their mandate was later expanded throughout the country.

NATO troops arrive at the site of a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, February 10, 2014.(Reuters / Omar Sobhani)

And as always, when the bombs began to fall, the cost of defeating evil was one NATO was willing to pay, hence the two dozen dead Pakistani soldiers during an errant airstrike on the Pakistani-Afghanistan border in November 2011.

Smoke rising apparently after a cross-border NATO air strike on Pakistani border posts on a mountain in the Mohmand tribal district, on November 26, 2011.(AFP Photo / ISPR)

Or 18 dead civilians – half of them children – during a coalition airstrike in an eastern province in Afghanistan in June of the following year.

Afghan villagers stand at a house which was hit by a NATO airstrike in Sajawand village in Logar province, south of Kabul on June 6, 2012.(AFP Photo / Sabawoon Amarkhil )

But apologies are hard to come by, as victories are widely celebrated, as civilian causalities are chalked up to "regrettable circumstances."

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.(Reuters / Yves Herman)

And for the scores of “unacknowledged” civilians killed during NATO’s 2011 bombing campaign in Libya, or the rebel fighters taken down in friendly fire attacks, NATO repeats the eternal mantra heard every time when it attempts to bomb its way to peace: “collateral damage.”

A man stands on the remnants of a school and mosque bombed by NATO forces according to Libyan officials in a village on the outskirts of Zlitan, 160km (99 miles) east of Tripoli, July 25, 2011.(Reuters / Caren Firouz)