Billy employs NATO navigation tactics in this week's #BallpointAdventures #TBT strip from May 10, 1999!

Click here to see the full-size webcomic!

There is a bit of a story behind this one that ironically makes this strip seem pretty dated (but really, it's not). I mean, nowadays, who cares if a bunch of innocent people got killed because NATO had bad intel?  This sort of thing happens all the time, these days.  But please read on to understand what this comic is really about.
Of course, we should still care that it is still happening.  Even some American citizens have been killed because of "bad intel."  Even now, under Obama, it's happened, but this strip was drawn long before Obama was someone any of us had heard of.  Of course, back then, this was NATO messing up, so we can't really put this on Clinton, but if you squint a little...

I found this New York Times article from the same day I drew this comic that explains what happened:
NATO and U.S. officials struggled Sunday to appease Chinese anger and salvage diplomatic efforts to end the Yugoslav conflict, after admitting that an alliance plane had bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in the mistaken belief it was a military target.
At least three Chinese died and 20 people were wounded in what the alliance termed "a terrible accident." 
The Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department issued a joint statement, blaming "faulty intelligence" for the error. 
"We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries from the bombing of the Chinese Embassy," the statement said. "The bombing was an error." 
The alliance pursued its air campaign Saturday night and Sunday, hitting communication sites in Serbia and military positions in Kosovo, but it avoided Belgrade. 
The U.S. plane that dropped the three or four bombs that struck the embassy, possibly a B-2 Stealth bomber, carried out the mission precisely as planned, officials said. 
NATO aides said the CIA, possibly relying on outdated maps, had selected the target, which it thought was the Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement, a military office.
So, yeah, they messed up and killed 3 people who had nothing to do with the target. Well done, NATO! And, I decided to put the concept of "collateral damage" into very blunt, familiar terms so that people would get what this probably meant to friends and family of the people accidentally blown to bits in that strike.

I mean, imagine how absurd it would be if someone wedged an ax into your head and then apologized because their aim was off. That would be absurd and they wouldn't get away with it. Of course, NATO did, as did Obama when he, essentially, executed Americans--also, by accident.  Here is a cutting from an April 23, 2015 Washington Post article (the same one I linked to in the first paragraph, above) that gives a brief rundown of those killed:
On Thursday, the White House acknowledged that an American hostage, Warren Weinstein, had been inadvertently killed in a U.S. operation earlier this year. Weinstein, along with an Italian hostage named Giovanni Lo Porto, died in what has been described as a drone strike against al-Qaeda militants along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
American hostages have died as a result of U.S. military action before – just last year, journalist Luke Somers was fatally shot while U.S. Navy SEALs tried to rescue him from al-Qaeda captivity in Yemen. But Weinstein appears to be the first hostage killed by the U.S. government's controversial drone operations.
Worse still, his death wasn't revealed by the U.S. government for months, partly because it took a long investigation to actually confirm it, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's enough to make you wonder how many Americans have been killed by U.S. drone strikes – and how many were killed on purpose.
Americans have been killed by U.S. drone strikes from the very beginning. In 2002, in an operation coordinated by the U.S. military, U.S. citizen Kemal Darwish was reported to have been killed in a strike in Yemen. In 2013, the U.S. Justice Department confirmed that four U.S. citizens, including cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, had been killed by CIA drone strikes since 2009. Awlaki, a U.S.-born Muslim known as a gifted preacher who incited attacks against the West, was killed in 2011 in a strike in Yemen.
Another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, died in the same strike that killed Awlaki, the Justice Department revealed. Khan was an al-Qaeda militant who created and served as an editor for Inspire, the group's magazine. Awlaki's son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed in another attack the month after his father died. The 16-year-old was also a U.S. citizen.
The other death announced by the Justice Department in 2013 was that of Jude Kenan Mohammad, a 23-year-old who was born in Florida. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2011. Mohammad had been acting as a recruiter for al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.
PLEASE read the whole article for more information on this. So, while the embarrassment that US and NATO officials felt back in '99 was nothing really to worry about in the end since, here we are 16 years later and the WaPo writes about the US military accidentally killing people within the context of an ICYMI hashtag.

"In Case You Missed It," there are always accidental killings in war (even when those wars are undeclared).  Mistakes are made.  So, maybe, instead of making excuses for it, we should try a little harder to avoid using military force in the first place.  Maybe dropping bombs and shooting missiles isn't the most efficient and accurate way to kill our enemies.


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