CHAPTER TWELVE: NATO'S WAR CRIMES
[I've been busy and out of town for most of the past week--sorry it's taken me so long to get back to blogging]
Parenti has a big ax to grind--NATO, not Milosevic or Seselj or Karadzic, was the real war criminal in Yugoslavia in his version of events. To begin, he lists the laws both national and international that NATO, in his opinion, violated.
The problem with this section is not that he is incorrect--strictly speaking, Parenti sticks to the facts in these opening paragraphs (although he seems to consider the NATO Charter to be "international law"--I'm not so sure about that). His objections are all over the map and rather disjointed. He objects to the violation of Serbian sovereignty on the basis of the UN Charter (which, in better hands, could have prompted a worthwhile examination of how the UN deals with domestic crises). He also claims that the Clinton Administration violated the War Powers Act as well as bypassing Congress altogether. Again, there are merits to these objections--so it is all the more distressing that Parenti doesn't seem the least bit interested in discussing them further. He throws the information out, raw and unexamined, and assumes that his job is done. Other than another couple of legalistic paragraphs on about the War Powers Act, he has already moved on.
We next discuss how NATO represents a newer and more sinister form of imperialism because it represents no particular people or geographic entity. NATO is a lot like a corporation, you see, and corporations are bad. I apologize for the glib tone--Parenti has actually quoted an interesting point--but once again the man has borrowed an insight without adding anything to it. Much of this book has the feel of a hastily-written undergraduate paper with random quotes inserted into the text post de facto in order to make the instructor happy.
Just as Parenti lacks the intellectual curiosity and even-handedness to make anything interesting of the issue state sovereignty, international interventions, and international law, he lacks the honesty necessary to discuss the issue of diplomacy. In short, he returns to the scene of Rambouillet. We already know that Parenti wants to believe that the Belgrade regime were unfairly set up; there is no need to rehash that imaginary scenario.
What follows is an odd exercise in logic; one that seems to suggest that any and all military actions by a state are fundamentally immoral, no matter what the cause or circumstance. We will consider this in the next post.