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Monday, January 10, 2011
The more I read about the war in Bosnia, and specifically the ethnic cleansing against the Muslim population, the more I wonder how much that episode plays into the anti-west/anti-American sentiment many Muslim countries seem to share. Perhaps there is no connection, but the lack of effort on our part to protect Muslims in Bosnia seems counter to the effort to protect Muslims in Kuwait during the same time period.
"The Black Book of Bosnia" is an interesting, if decidedly one-sided read. However, it is illuminating to me because it draws much more distinct and morally strict picture about what happened in that war and contrasts that image with the rhetoric in this country, much of which I glossed over while I was in graduate school.
From page 194 of my copy:
We [the West] disarmed ourselves with our condescension, with our worship of revolution. Human nature did not change in 1910, as a modern writer said it did; or later. The spiritual needs of individuals take different historical forms, but they are not historical. And the spiritual traditions of groups are not the consequences of underdevelopment. For this reason, developments will not transform them. Technology puts new tools at the service of old hungers, that is all. Theocracy was established in Iran with the help of tape cassettes. The air defenses of the Bosnian Serbs have the blessing of the Eastern Church (And cyberspace is a sanctuary of unreason.) These are not archaisms or atavisms or anachronisms. They are the unsimple expressions of individuals and groups who are continuous and discontinuous with what preceded them. Those are the only kind of individuals and groups there are or have ever been. The past is part of the present and the present is part of the past. That is what moderns do not like to see. The ideology of modernity taught that the relationship between the present and the past is a relationship of contradiction; and so we are always startled.This is an amazing paragraph that forces us post-modern/post-conflict folks to address how the rest of the world is dealing with their own emergence from dark political and economic times - it seems that individuals are not "reformed" by goodies alone, that they will continue to seek solace in religion, spirituality, and group-think even with the goodies.
The piece goes on:
And this is where the author hits me in the gut:
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