In the spring of 1999, The United States led a NATO force that inflicted a punishing 78-day bombing raid on Serbia. I remember the anger and confusion that I felt when I read about the attacks.
By this point in my young life, I was already a pacifist. And I was already aware – as President Eisenhower forewarned – that the military industrial complex had taken control of our foreign policy. War is inevitable because it is profitable. I knew all that.
But what I didn’t understand is how the United States decided which countries to attack. I mean: Serbia? What percentage of Americans could find Serbia on a map? Maybe 5 percent. What percentage chance did Serbia have of posing a threat to American national security? Maybe 0 percent.
Of all the naughty countries in the world to attack: why poor, landlocked, Christian Serbia? In 1999, I didn’t understand it at all. After watching the Netflix documentary “E-Team,” I have a better idea.
“E-Team” follows a small group of influential human rights advocates into the field. We watch as they visit the most dangerous war zones on earth to gather information about civilian massacres, atrocities, and other violations of international law.
The E-Team intrepidly traveled to Kosovo (part of Serbia) in 1999, Gaddafi’s Libya in 2011, and Syria in 2013. On each mission, the E-Team documented and reported ghastly murders perpetrated by military and police.
At this point, I couldn’t help but admire the human rights investigators. They are undeniably brave and selfless.
But then I couldn’t help but notice that there was an ugly trend. After every report that the E-Team gave, there was a call for air strikes. Every place that the E-Team visited, American bombers followed closely behind. Every country that the E-Team criticized was subject to a US-sponsored regime change.
It’s almost as if the E-Team’s real goal is to inspire members of the Clinton family to use the Department of Defense to slaughter people who are absolutely not attacking us.
First, President Clinton ordered the bombing of Serbia. Then, Secretary Clinton ordered the bombing of Libya. In a debate with Bernie last winter, candidate Clinton argued that we need to attack President Assad in Syria.
One happy result of last month’s election is that we are now less likely to make the same mistakes in Syria that we did in Libya. And we are far less likely to get into an accidental war with Russia because of a failure to communicate and coordinate our Syria policy with Putin.
In the end, I can’t recommend “E-Team” because it made me furious. I still feel the same way about US intervention as I did in 1999. To me, the concept of a humanitarian war is Orwellian and absurd.
The E-Team claims to be working for the good of mankind. But the only clear beneficiaries of their work are Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman – manufacturers of the F-16 fighter jet and the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
Thanks to the movie, I am certainly less confused about why we bombed Serbia in 1999. But I’m even more angry.