In November 1999, however, the Observer (UK) - a paper that supported the NATO bombing, be it noted - revealed that it had not been an accident:
But the midnight strike was so precise the embassy's north end was untouched, leaving the marble and glass of the front entrance and the ambassador's Mercedes and four flower pots unscathed.
Why do I believe this, even though the officialdom on both sides of the Atlantic has repeatedly dismissed the Observer's claims? Very simple: because the Observer story introduced a perfect red herring. Namely (emphasis added):
The Chinese Embassy in Belgrade was deliberately targeted by the most precise weapons in the US arsenal because it was being used by Zeljko Raznatovic, the indicted war criminal better known as Arkan, to transmit messages to his `Tigers' - Serb death squads - in Kosovo.
Say what? Well, admits the Observer, Arkan's "precise role in Kosovo is still not clear." But hey, the ICTY "had good reasons to suspect" that Arkan and his men were "playing a murderous role in Operation Horseshoe, Milosevic's plan to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its majority Albanian population."
You know, the fictitious plan conjured by the Bulgarian intelligence and furnished to the Germans? The plan that didn't actually exist? That plan.
And the Chinese personnel killed on the occasion? Must have been intelligence officers, obviously, says the Observer. The Chinese must have been helping the Evil Milosevic (why? Because NATO says so!), and the bombing was a message to them both.
It's blindingly obvious that the Chinese Embassy attack could not have been accidental. Most likely it was a message: to Beijing not to interfere, and to Belgrade to abandon all hope of resisting. The "death squads" and "Horseshoe" angle is horse-hockey, of course, but some sort of moralistic cover was needed for a naked show of force. That's how that entire war was justified, after all.
Observer's report smells like a "yes, but" defense leaked from NATO (or rather, Foreign Office and the State Department), seeking to accept the blame for the bombing but justify it by the necessity of stopping the Evil Serbs. It all adds up, really. It's certainly a lot more plausible than a threadbare story about "old maps."
With a quisling regime in Belgrade getting ready to welcome Deputy Emperor Biden - one of Washington's most outspoken Serbophobes - it may appear that the Serbs have forgotten 1999. I'm willing to wager the Chinese have not.