Prominent social critic Parenti (History as Mystery, 1999, etc.) pens a fierce, elegantly constructed elegy not just for the lives sacrificed in the Balkan wars, but for concepts of national sovereignty and constitutionality, which appear to be lost to a corporate-sanctioned new world order.
Parenti dissents from every piece of conventional wisdom about the former Yugoslavia’s breakup, the Kosovo crisis, and the NATO bombing campaign against the Serbian state in purported support of the Kosovar Albanians. Instead, he assembles a scarily persuasive alternate history in which an American-led coalition backed by aggressive financial interests precipitated the civil war and the profoundly destructive air campaign that killed at least 3,000 civilians. He assumes the difficult defense of the Serbs with gusto, questioning the “publicized size, scope, and frequency of Serbian [war] crimes” and prodding readers to reconsider fundamental notions about the Milosevic regime. (One of Parenti’s many effective tangents addresses the issue of why the US supports certain brutal dictatorships, but not others.) His explorations of Croatian, Bosnian Muslim, and Kosovar Albanian violence, quasi-fascism, and mediated falsification of wartime reality are shocking, as are his dissections of the KLA’s organized-crime ties and of the roles played by other European nations, principally Germany, in precipitating the crisis. Nor does the mainstream press, especially the New York Times, escape criticism for consistently biased, compromised reportage. Parenti is keenly attuned to the war’s economic implications, postulating that the real target of American-led aggression was Yugoslavia’s efficient socialist system and that post-bombardment recovery prospects are grim. He writes with a taut cadence that exudes conviction. At times he elides opposing viewpoints, the same sin he ascribes to NATO-controlled media and governmental sources, but taken as a whole his work is passionately convincing. Like Thomas Frank’s recent One Market Under God (p. 1443) and Ken Silverstein’s Private Warriors (p. 947), this book raises serious questions about the rise of militarized free-market privatization.
Extremely disturbing, but, for the brave, jolting and necessary reading.