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.
Beginning in July of this year, most everywhere we look, there will be a giant number on our food. The change will affect hundreds of thousands of edible products, and, so, hundreds of millions of people. It will affect the way we think about food for decades. (This update is the first in more than 20 years—so long ago that the FDA earnestly describes its current label design as “iconic.”)
Current nutrition labels, legally required on all packaged foods, are to be be replaced with the explicit purpose of improving people’s health. As Michelle Obama said at the unveiling of the new labels on Friday, “Very soon, you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator, or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids.”
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If Sanders wants his political revolution to last, he will need to win widespread support for his ideas well into the future. Yet as the primary election draws to a close, the campaign has increasingly made arguments that may undercut the long-term viability of the movement that has coalesced around the Vermont senator.
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“It was Donald Trump playing Donald Trump,” Griffin observed. There was something unreal about it.
A small but intriguing study done in West Philadelphia points to the importance of what researchers call microenvironments.
Social scientists and economists have been fascinated by the idea that a city—even a neighborhood—can shape someone’s economic success in life. Until last year, research linking neighborhood conditions to economic mobility was hardly conclusive. Then, a group of Harvard economists made a compelling case that poor children who grow up in more affluent neighborhoods (with better schools, less crime, and larger public budgets) end up earning more money later on than if they had stayed in a poor neighborhood.
A group of researchers from The University of Pennsylvania is now taking that idea a step further, showing that a similar pattern might even apply on the level of the city block. They studied West Philadelphia, which is largely made up of poor, African American families and where poverty is passed on from one generation to the next. Yet even within West Philadelphia, poverty, crime and education levels vary from block to block. These areas are what researchers are calling “micro-environments.”
Three Atlantic staffers discuss “The Door,” the fifth episode of the sixth season.
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Today, the assumption of free will runs through every aspect of American politics, from welfare provision to criminal law. It permeates the popular culture and underpins the American dream—the belief that anyone can make something of themselves no matter what their start in life. As Barack Obama wrote in The Audacity of Hope, American “values are rooted in a basic optimism about life and a faith in free will.”
The show had some bright spots—such as Larry David’s work as Bernie Sanders—but it largely failed to capture the zeitgeist in the year of Trump.
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The author Moira Weigel argues that the various courtship rituals of the past hundred-odd years have reflected the labor-market conditions of their day.
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As part of her research, Weigel read dating-advice books from the 1800s and hundreds of articles on dating from teen and women’s magazines over the years, and she found two common themes: First, there is usually an older part of the population that perceives dating to be “dying,” or, at least, as not being done “appropriately.” Second, Weigel found that the way people date has almost always been tied to the market forces of their era.