Basically, American and NATO personnel knew from day one this was another dog-wagging episode for which nobody could plausibly be asked to go into harms way. They therefore tried bombing from 25000' for three or four weeks and, when they learned they could not harm the Yugoslav military from earth orbit like that, they embarked upon an entire series of what anybody would call war crimes and that included bombing out the entire Serbian civilian infrastructure which is in total violation of Geneva conventions, killing Yugoslav civilians in areas remote from anything which could be called military targets even in an imaginary world in which the operation itself was basically legal, and doing things like bombing out the petrochemical plant at Pancevo and thus dumping hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals into the Danube river which Russians rightly called an act of international terrorism.
That whole deal was basically a gigantic stain on the honor of the United States and in fact it cannot be realistically described without using the term "war crimes".
A multi-national force bombing innocent civilians into submission from a country who attacked no one, WAS a cowardly act -- and an illegal one.
But it was "a NATO action", not "a US action". The US Congress never authorized Bill Clinton to attack Yugoslavia and as a matter fact, there were members of Congress who actually sued Clinton for that action. It may have been a US President who called up NATO, but the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia only became a de facto US operation after the fact.
Yes, I have also heard people say that the reason for it " was to divert attention from Bill Clinton's wayward pants", but I don't buy it -- that may have been a perk of the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia, but it wasn't "a reason".
The real reason for the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia was to RESURRECT NATO -- who with the death of the Soviet Union and Cold War -- had been on its political deathbed. The alliance was falling apart -- 50 years of existence and it had never been activated. So rather than die the natural death that it should have done, NATO leadership created a mission for itself to stay alive.
It was no coincidence that the 50th anniversary of NATO happened during the 70+ day bombing of Yugoslavia -- "Happy Birthday NATO, you've got more life in you!".
It was no coincidence that within a couple of months of invading Kosovo, NATO began building Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, one of the largest NATO bases in the world.
If any of us were thinking with a clear head, it was obvious that moment -- in building Bondsteel -- that there was no way that Kosovo was headed any way other than toward "independence". Bush had to eventually sign off on recognizing Kosovo independence, or else face the humiliating consequences of having a NATO Base built on foreign soil with absolutely no permission to be there.
So next question: "Was it a war crime?" Hell, yes! It was a naked act of aggression that can't be framed as anything other than war crime(s)!
But, once again, the players in this game were allowed to use the US to hide behind, but this wasn't initially a US action, it was a NATO action. And it is NATO who should shoulder the blame!
This is not to say that the members of Congress who drug us into taking responsibility for Clinton's actions -- people like Biden, Lieberman and McCain -- don't deserve whatever punishment they deserve from the American people for disgracing us, but that is another story.
By that measure, all of our strategic bombing campaigns in any conflict have been war crimes. It's always prudent to deny the oppostion movement, communication, and supplies. That would require taking out radio/TV stations, power plants, bridges, refineries, and fuel depots. Naturally, that's going to have a direct effect on civilian infrastructure and environment. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Strenuously.
I'm not asking a leading question or trying to goad you, I'd just like to inquire seriously: What's your opinion on Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings? Were they war crimes?