Knowing what it did and didn't do to stop war in the Balkans, how can the EU claim it carried out a worthy diplomatic and military effort there?
Muslim women in the town of Vlasenica, in an ethnically Serbian part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, sit prior to an April 2012 mass funeral for victims of the Bosnian conflict. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)
As the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced it had selected the European Union as the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, a news story from Bosnia-Herzegovina reported the remains of 11 people had been recovered from a mass grave in northeastern Bosnia.
The International Commission on Missing Persons said the bodies were found in shallow graves near Trnovo, and were believed to be Muslim civilians from the area of Vlasenica, a former Bosniak-populated municipality in eastern Bosnia where hundreds of war crimes were committed by Bosnian Serbs between May and June 1992. By the time those soldiers were done with their lethal handiwork, more than 3,000 Muslims had been killed and thousands more imprisoned -- in addition to the thousands who fled into exile with only the clothes on their backs. Within a month of the Serb takeover there in June 1992, there were very few, if any, Muslims left in Vlasenica.
Similar scenes played out in hundreds of other villages from Croatia to Kosovo. Men were routinely imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Women were tortured and raped -- a form of ethnic cleansing committed in the most violent and humiliating manner. Many rape survivors subsequently took their own lives, unable to tolerate the shame or overcome the deadening depression that took over their lives in those attacks' destructive aftermath.
In a decade of war in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, unspeakable crimes were carried out by armies, soldiers, and irregulars under the leaderships of Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman. Together and apart, they plundered, pillaged, and raped their way across Marshal Tito's highway of "brotherhood and unity" destroying lives, uprooting families and entire villages, in order ultimately to forge an independent state in Croatia during the first war. To be sure, crimes were committed by the army under Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, but there is no evidence of systematic abuse and atrocities approaching the level of the Bosnian Serb Army, known as the VRS, or Serbian Army, once known as the JNA.
Milosevic's march toward a "greater Serbia" was finally stopped by NATO aircraft that engaged in a 78-day bombardment of Serbia led by the U.S. Air Force.
These wars are notable for concentration camps, the systematic rape and enslavement of women, and a massive genocide in Srebrenica, where some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed and cast into open graves littering the countryside of eastern Bosnia. Mass graves of Kosovar Albanian victims dot the Serbian countryside. Milosevic and his cronies went to great lengths to hide them, including by burying 50 victims in a refrigerator truck that was dumped into the Danube River.
Prosecution of the most egregious of these crimes is handled at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague and in various national human rights and war crimes courts in the region.
These heinous crimes are familiar to Europeans.
That's what makes the Nobel Committee's selection of the EU as this year's Peace Prize laureate simply unbelievable to me. I read and re-read the citation: "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." Knowing what happened and did not happen to stop the wars in the Balkans, how can the EU claim it has carried out an honorable diplomatic and military effort in the Balkans?
Indeed, the late U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war in 1995, once called the Bosnian war "the greatest collective security failure of the West since the 1930s." Surely Europeans bear major responsibility for telling the Americans to "butt out" of business in their backyard at the beginning of the Balkan unraveling. According to the late U.S. congressman Frank McCloskey's account captured in Samantha Power's book "Genocide: The Problem from Hell," President Bill Clinton wanted to engage in a bombing campaign in Bosnia as early as 1993 but complained to McCloskey that he was effectively thwarted by British Prime Minister John Major, whose government obstructed all efforts to launch a military intervention under the auspices of the UN Security Council.
Now a political unraveling is unfolding in Sarajevo once again, calling into question this Nobel Peace Prize and its delusional citation. Indeed, the EU presence in Bosnia has persisted with weak, appeasing overtures to Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia's Serb entity, who has cried foul for months, repeatedly claiming that Republika Srpska will someday be its own country.
Through the Office of High Commissioner Valentin Inzko, the EU has repeatedly failed to stop an escalating war of words and deeds, resulting in continuous obstructions of federal governance in Bosnia, paralyzing its ability to function at all.
So when the EU accepts the Nobel Peace Prize in December, will it do so mindful of the 30,000 people who remain missing and unidentified in the Balkans? Will it accept this prestigious prize knowing that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the Bosnian war? Will it acknowledge that European refugees from the Balkans fled the European continent to more than 80 countries around the world in the 20th century?
The most decent thing the EU could do now is to contribute a substantial portion of the Nobel Peace Prize's financial award to those humanitarian organizations that continue to support the survivors of three major wars on the European continent in the past 20 years. Until there is justice, there will be no peace, despite the Nobel Committee's belief to the contrary.
Tanya Domi is adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, where she teaches human rights in the Balkans for the Harriman Institute. She served in the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996-2000.
In an interview, the U.S. president ties his legacy to a pact with Tehran, argues ISIS is not winning, warns Saudi Arabia not to pursue a nuclear-weapons program, and anguishes about Israel.
On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.
“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
The common theme is the harassment of people without probable cause to think that they are doing anything illegal.
Two recent articles about the Drug Enforcement Administration harassing Amtrak passengers have elicited like responses from a number of Atlantic readers. “Hey,” they’ve more or less written, “I’ve been harassed aboard Amtrak, too!”
The DEA is mentioned again in what follows, though other stories concern different law-enforcement organizations. The common theme is the harassment of innocent people without probable cause to think that they are doing anything illegal. As Brian Doherty noted at Reason, the gendarme bothering innocent travelers on trains was a stock trope of movies and books about malign European regimes. And now it is a regular feature of train travel in the United States of America.
A scholar’s analysis of American culture presumes too much.
Last week, Gawkerinterviewed Robin DiAngelo, a professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University. She discussed aspects of her thinking on whiteness, which are set forth at length in her book, What Does it Mean to be White? I’ve ordered the book.
Meanwhile, her remarks on police brutality piqued my interest. Some of what Professor DiAngelo said is grounded in solid empirical evidence: blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately victimized by misbehaving police officers; there are neighborhoods where police help maintain racial and class boundaries. And if our culture, which she calls “the water we swim in,” contained fewer parts racism per million, I suspect that police brutality would be less common.
Singapore’s mind-bending logical riddles are so last month. Enter: Vietnam, the latest country to be swept up in what could easily be known as “the viral-math epidemic of 2015.”
This one might even trump its Singaporean predecessor, which became a global legend earlier this year. That quandary, for those who aren’t familiar with it, asked fifth-graders to figure out the birthday of a certain “Cheryl,” who gave two of her friends—“Albert” and “Bernard”—a list of 10 possible dates. She then privately told Albert the month, and Bernard the day. (“Albert: I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too. Bernard: At first I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I now know. Albert: Then I also know when Cheryl’s birthday is.”)
In any case, people have probably heard the phrase in reference to something gone awry at work or in life. In either setting, when the shit does hit the fan, people will tend to look to the most competent person in the room to take over.
And too bad for that person. A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
In September 2009, the second platoon of Charlie Company arrived in Afghanistan with 42 men. Ten months later, nearly half had been killed or wounded, mostly in the Arghandab Valley—a key to controlling southern Afghanistan. Now these 82nd Airborne troops were getting ready to leave the Arghandab behind. They had one more dangerous job to do: a joint mission with the untried artillery unit that would replace them patrolling the fields, orchards, and villages they called the Devil’s Playground.
July 11, 2010, 11:09 a.m.
Staff Sergeant Christopher Gerhart’s stomach rolled, queasy. He stood alone under a trellis heavy with fat bunches of white grapes, planted his hands against a mud wall, and stared at the ground, head rocking as “Love Lost in a Hail of Gunfire,” by the heavy-metal band Bleeding Through, blasted from his headphones. Gerhart had already deployed three times to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. Promoted 10 days earlier, he was 22, brash and outgoing. “You grow up quick out here,” he’d told me. “You’ve got to. You can’t be a little kid when your buddy gets blown up next to you.”
The former secretary of state jettisons sweeping rhetoric, and focuses on specific policies.
Hillary Clinton has been an official candidate for president for five weeks, and she still hasn’t done the thing most candidates do on day one: given a speech laying out her vision for America. Nor is she planning on doing so anytime soon. Politicoreports that Hillary’s “why I’m running for president,” speech, initially scheduled for May, has now been delayed until June, or even later.
There’s a reason for that: The speech is unlikely to be very good. Soaring rhetoric and grand themes have never been Hillary’s strengths. That’s one reason so many liberals found her so much less inspirational than Barack Obama in 2008. And it’s a problem with deep roots. In his biography, A Woman in Charge, Carl Bernstein describes Hillary, then in law school, struggling to articulate her generation’s perspective in an address to the League of Women Voters. “If she was speaking about a clearly defined subject,” Bernstein writes, “her thoughts would be well organized, finely articulated, and delivered in almost perfect outline form. But before the League audience, she again and again lapsed into sweeping abstractions.”