Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Washington Post Editorial on Partition

Richard Cohen Argues That Partition is Inevitable

If proof were needed that the story of Bosnia' war is still being fought over, here it is--an Op-Ed from the Sept. 25, 2007 Washington Post arguing for the partition of Iraq into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish states. And note that Cohen uses the Republika Srpska as one example of partition.

He claims that Bosnia and places like it break apart because different ethnic groups "cannot get along." This is the sort of simple-minded, myopic, and ahistorical pseudo-analysis which was used to justify inaction and disengagement during the war. It would be nice of Cohen could acknowledge the absence of centralized control and the degredation of civic culture in Iraq. It would also be helpful--and honest--if he were to acknowledge that while both Yugoslavia and Iraq were modern nation-states, the complex multicultural societies they contained were much, much older, and had lived with varying degrees of intermixture for centuries.

Opponants of intervention often accused pro-interventionists of being naive, supporting an idealized multi-cultural Bosnia where everybody held hands and got along swimmingly. "Realists" like Cohen, however, live in a world where every breakdown in civil order can be ascribed to the same, one-size-fits-all root cause of "ancient ethnic hatred."


Katja R. said...

Greetings from Sarajevo!
Really a stimulating series of articles to read, thanks!

Kirk Johnson said...

Thanks--and it's good to hear from you!

You're in Sarajevo--you lucky gal!

Anonymous said...

"'Realists' like Cohen, however, live in a world where every breakdown in civil order can be ascribed to the same, one-size-fits-all root cause of 'ancient ethnic hatred.'"

You are absolutely correct. We (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) lived together for centuries, and we will continue to live together no matter what happens. Our destiny is to be together, and no border will ever change that fact.

I invite Richard Cohen to come and respond to our critique of his 'realism.' I am sure this blog will pop-up when Richard Cohen Google's his name.

Well done Kirk!
It would be my honor to get in touch with you via E-mail, so I could keep you on my list of friends. I am proud of your work, and I am proud of your blog, and I rate this academic project 10/10!

Anonymous said...

Kirk, hi again. Hope you don't get mad at me for posting 2 comments, but nevertheless I thought this would be interesting.

Serbian historians like to put a full blame for war in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Bosniaks and Croats who sought "independence". As a matter of the fact, Bosnian Serb (and Serbian) politicians started creating mess in Bosnia-Herzegovina long before independence.

In 1991 several self-styled “Serb Autonomous Regions” were declared in areas of Bosnia with large Serb populations. Evidence emerged that the Yugoslav People's Army was being used to send secret arms deliveries to the Bosnian Serbs from Belgrade. In August the Serbian Democratic Party began boycotting the Bosnian presidency meetings; in October it removed its deputies from the Bosnian assembly and set up a “Serb National Assembly” in Banja Luka. By then full-scale war had broken out in Croatia, and the breakup of Yugoslavia was under way. Bosnia's position became highly vulnerable. The possibility of partitioning Bosnia had been discussed during talks between the Croatian president, Franjo Tudjman, and the Serbian president, Slobodan MiloŇ°evic, earlier in the year, and two Croat “communities” in northern and southwestern Bosnia, similar in some ways to the “Serb Autonomous Regions,” were proclaimed in November 1991. When the European Community (EC; now European Union) recognized the independence of Croatia and Slovenia in December, it invited Bosnia to apply for recognition also. A referendum on independence was held February 29–March 1, 1992, although Karadzic's party obstructed voting in many Serb-populated areas. Nearly two-thirds of the electorate cast a vote; almost all voted for independence, which was officially proclaimed on March 3 by President Izetbegovic.

Kirk, if you have time, please comment! And thanks!