Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bosnia as a Battlefield of the "Clash of Civilizations"

I am currently browsing through some of the essays in The New Crusades: Constructing the Muslim Enemy edited by Emran Qureshi and Michael A. Sells. The book is a multi-faceted rebuttal to the collective body of voices pushing some variation of Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilization" thesis, including V.S. Naipaul and of course Bernard Lewis.

The influence of this strain of political/cultural thought on Western responses (and non-responses) to the Bosnian crisis has certainly not been overlooked, but it certainly merits continued attention. Earlier Serb and Croat nationalist claims about the "Islamic menace" coming from Bosnia and Kosova certainly did not fall on deaf ears, but after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 Balkan revisionists and Serb nationalist apologists seem to have sensed that the audience for such rhetoric has broadened. Therefore, those of us who wish to defend the historical record cannot afford to ignore the "Islam versus the West" theorists, no matter how much we might wish to dismiss such gross simplifications as irrelevant to the struggles of the largely secular Bosniak and Kosovar Albanian populations.

A couple of the essays in this book--one by Michael Sells; the other by Norman Cigar--deal specifically with the Muslims of Bosnia, and I will consider them in some detail; first, however, I will briefly consider some of the other essays, some of which touch on issues in the former Yugoslavia, and all of contribute to the larger discussion which Sells and Cigar are participating in.

I apologize for my infrequent (and abbreviated) posting as of late; I will make a sincere effort to be more consistent and prompt in my consideration of this book.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

Kirk, you don't have to apologize for anything. We LOVE reading your posts. I feel we owe you an apology for enjoying your posts, but being lazy to comment on them :) grrr...

Anthony said...

I concur with Daniel -- you read books so we don't have to.

The cash of civilizations is somewhat overwroght but does have some truth to it. The conflict betwen the West and the Middle East has been going on, waxing and wanning, since the Greeks and Persians first fought.

For the West to win, there needs to be not a destruction of Islam (as some call for) but rather support of a modern Islam. Unlike Chirstianity, Islam never went through a Reformation. Bosnia and Kosovo may be the harbinger of such a Reformation.