A poem from KOSOVO WAR  POETRY  by David Roberts

Background to the writing of the poem at the end of it.

  The Pilotís Testament


I seek no glory.

I bear no anger.

I hate no man.


I do the unspeakable

on behalf of the ungrateful.

I bomb targets chosen by others.


I have surrendered my will

to a higher authority.

I trust the cause to be right

and the methods appropriate.

There is no place for questioning.

There can be no other way.


I do my duty.

You can rely on me.

I will not let you down.

Though my task may be dangerous,

neither fear nor doubt

will prevent me.


Consider me.

Physically and mentally

my ability is exceptional.

My judgement and reflexes

are trained to perfection.

I am chosen from the elite,

the very best.

Many accord me

great respect.


I possess power beyond imagination.

Like a god I roar through the heavens,





the earth beneath me,

the whole of creation

available to me,

awaiting my quick shot

of death and destruction.


My victims are unaware of me.

I am unaware of my victims.


They go about their lives

not knowing only a few seconds remain.


We are arriving

at the appointed time and place.

At a touch I fix their fate.


Moments later,

in mid conversation,

a flash,

and they are gone.


I cannot pretend it was difficult.

Their will was done,

and I, merely an instrument of death.

I did my duty,

but I accept no guilt.


I come down to earth

as a man among men,

unmarked, unrecognised,

unremarkable, unnoticed:

I easily blend.


I am not available for comment.

I am not an item of news. The story is elsewhere.


I return to my family

as if nothing has happened.


David Roberts   

15- 22 December 1999

Copyright © 1999 David Roberts

Picture from leaflet of Anglo-Yugoslav Medical Aid  -  See Links list.

Aleksinac where three civilians were killed when a NATO pilot aimed to bomb the Deligrad barracks some distance away.

Comment and background to the poem

An influence in this poem was a conversation I had about 1981 when I chatted to a British bomber pilot in a squash club in Haywards Heath. I asked him if he he would hesitate to obey orders if he were told to drop a nuclear bomb. He said he wouldn't hesitate for a moment. It was not his job to choose the targets. It was not his responsibility. The system could not work if he could pick and chose the orders he would obey. 

I asked, "What if thousands or tens of thousands were to die as a result?"  He said he knew that he would only be asked to drop a nuclear bomb if it was necessary for the protection of Britain and he would never regret doing his duty.

It seems to be necessary to point out that when NATO bombers bombed Yugoslavia no NATO country had been attacked or even threatened by Yugoslavia. Self defence is the only acceptable reason for waging war under the |UN Charter which 188 nations have signed up to. The NATO Treaty which governs the military actions of NATO countries also only permitted war in self defence. However, this was changed without it being brought to the attention of the public or even members of the British parliament on 24 April 1999 when a new NATO agreement was signed in Washington. NATO ministers agreed to act illegally under the UN Charter and wage war for a variety of non-defensive purposes. The bombing of Yugoslavia was a practical demonstration of this new willingness to act illegally. It is often claimed that the bombing, though illegal, was carried out to avert a humanitarian crisis. In fact, thousands of bombs dropping on a country itself causes a humanitarian crisis, and the flight of both Serb and Albanian refugees from the Kosovo province began after the start of the bombing.

The first victim of war is morality. Wars are always failures -  failures of diplomacy, failure to see the interest of the enemy is tied up with ourselves, failure to understand that we are all bound together as members of the human race. 

The fighter in any war faces difficult moral questions. Anyone who believes that organised aggression by states may sometimes be wrong has some serious thinking and explaining to do about this military action. 

Sadly, some people have unswerving faith in their leaders, believe that they can do no wrong, and therefore have no need to question any of their actions.

People who pay taxes that fund wars and live in countries that declare war on others cannot evade their moral responsibility. Do they condone aggression by pretending that nothing has happened or do they take steps to make their opposition to violence abundantly clear to their government and other people.

Are some kinds of warfare more moral than others?  -  Compare The Pilot's Testament with Had a Nice Day.


Free use for students and personal study requirements when a student makes his or her own individual copy. For multiple copies: please buy Kosovo War Poetry or contact the author for permission. There are thirty poems in the book, and an account of the causes, conduct, and tragic failures of the war.

Kosovo War poetry is published by Saxon Books    ISBN 0 952 8969 2 3   £4-99 (UK), Approx $8 (USA)   Available Worldwide

The factual introduction tells more of the truth about the causes, conduct and outcome of the war than we get from the mass media in Britain. The best short introduction to the subject of the Kosovo Conflict. 

Apart from the front and back covers of the book there are no illustrations in Kosovo War Poetry.

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