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By Phil Hall | January 22, 2008

Prior to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, there was the Clinton-era incursion into the Yugoslavian province of Kosovo. What many people may not realize is that Kosovo remains under military occupation (albeit by NATO, rather than Pentagon, command) – and it also remains in an advanced state of shambles.

The documentary “View from the Bridge” may carry an Arthur Miller-inspired title, but its harshness is closer in substance to Samuel Beckett – a fatalistic yet surreal view of life amid seemingly hopeless ruin. In this case, the ruin is physical (charred buildings from the 1999 U.S. bombings designed to stop Serbian-Albanian internecine slaughter) and metaphorical (war orphans and adult survivors of the maelstrom, who calmly yet bitterly recall what transpired).

The eponymous bridge belongs to the town of Mitrovica, which serves as a continuing hot spot between the anti-American Christians who want Kosovo reunited with Serbia (the remains of the former Yugoslavia) and pro-U.S. Muslims who want Kosovo linked to Albania or declared independent. In the middle of the madness are the Gypsy (Roma) people who are despised by both communities. The Gypsies live in squalor and many are dying from lead poisoning, despite the efforts from foreign relief groups to save their lives.

As for the American occupation, it appears to go on for a seemingly endless stretch. There is no exit strategy, but the lack of overt terrorist conduct against the foreign military forces has served to keep Kosovo off America’s radar for years – while keeping the province in a state of limbo.

“View from the Bridge” offers a much-needed reminder of the wreckage created by war and badly-planned peace.

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