Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Balkan Reading List

I have been reading a lot about the Balkan wars lately, perhaps because of the tenth annivesary of the Srebrenica massacre.

Just finished a phenomenal little book written by Zlatko Dizdarevic, a journalist who lived through the siege of Sarejevo. You can pick up a hardbound copy of Sarajevo: A War Journal on Amazon for a couple of dollars. Do it. It will put whatever little worries you might have into chilling perspective.

And I've just started Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo, by the excellent reporter and columnist Roger Cohen. I'm only 20 pages in and already riveted.

Next up is Balkan Ghosts, by Robert D. Kaplan.

To liven things up, I'm trying to knock off a chapter or two per night of Don Quixote, the superb new translation by Edith Grossman...

With Enemies Like These...

I don't have too many heroes, but Christopher Hitchens is one of them. I don't always agree with him, just mostly. And I admire his writing more than it would be appropriate to say here.

So I'll just quote him. Writing last week in Slate, Hitchens takes aim at those who blame the US for inspiring terrorism and who fret that US allies will be targeted. He says the issue is not who are the US’ allies, but who are its enemies.

Why did Saddam Hussein, that great lion of the Arab and Muslim world, denounce the American bombing of the Muslim-killing Milosevic? Why did Qaddafi do the same? For the very same reason that Christian fascists in Serbia now denounce the intervention in Iraq: They know that the main foe is the United States and that this fact transcends all the others.

There has been a great deal of nonsense published in the last week to the effect that an alliance with the United States can put other countries like Britain in the position of being ‘targeted.’ Why deny this? I reflect on what was not done at Srebrenica, and on what ought to have been done in Rwanda, and on what was put off too long with the Taliban and the Baathists, and I think what an honor it is to have such enemies. Co-existence with them is not possible, which is good, because it is not desirable or tolerable, either. The Srebrenica memorial stands as enduring testimony to that inescapable conclusion.