Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Fall of Yugoslavia" by Misha Glenny [17]

Chapter 5 [conclusion]

The final nine pages of this chapter do not add much--in terms of analysis--to what has come before, although it must be noted that Glenny always writes well and demonstrates a genuine concern for ordinary Bosnians of all nationalities. One point he does make--nationalist violence in Bosnia has historically been stirred up by outside powers (competing empires and nations; in this case Croatia and Serbia); he also states that once nationalist violence has been stirred up it takes outside intervention to separate the warring parties and enforce peace. Considering that the only example he gives is World War II (in which the "outside intervention" was provided by the Communist Yugoslav government for which many Bosnians of all nationalities fought), it's problematic to make such a blanket statement. But we can forgive Glenny for this generalization, since his larger point is to emphasize that international involvement will be necessary to help enforce a stable lasting peace after the fighting is over.

But that raises another issue--Glenny's opposition to international involvement to end the fighting, which he does not address here but which is a matter of record. This chapter ends with a glum, fatalistic portrait of a completely broken country in which the state and civil society have simply ceased to function, and a modern capital city now resembles a morbid set from a post-apocalyptic movie. He believes that nothing can stop the fighting, and so therefore nobody should try. It's a tragic story he tells, but it is unclear what the reader is to learn from it. 

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This (finally!) concludes my summation/review of Chapter 5; there is one chapter and two Epilogues to go.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Thanks, Kirk. I think you're giving Glenny a pretty fair run, giving him credit for the substance of his apprehensions while pinning down the inconsistencies that made him for me a less reliable guide than he might have been to the social as opposed to the political dynamics of the war.