“Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016″| History News Network

Juan Cole lays out some desperately needed foreign policy suggestions, most of which are solidly grounded in evidence and experience. Unfortunately, many of them would be difficult politically to implement, particular his suggestions concerning Israel. However, the consequences of remaining on the same path are dire. Obama needs to do the right thing, and let the political chips fall where they may!

Source: History News Network | Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016

“This is One Reason the World Is on Fire” | History News Network

I don’t think “the world is on fire,” but Lawrence Davidson’s essay does hold some relevance to the violence that we see in some parts of the world. He argues that “there are millions of people, Muslims, Jews and Christians and others who not only still idealize a religiously imagined past, but want, in one way or another, to import that past into the present – and not only their present but everyone else’s as well.” This desire for some kind of mythical, ideal past is not new. These kind of golden age myths can be found throughout history, indicating a human affinity for them. They are particularly appealing in times of trouble, and Davidson is right to call them “downright dangerous.”
The problem is that while appealing, these mythical pasts never existed. They were created by scrubbing the particular period of interest of all its blemishes while embellishing the good. All attempts to recreate a mythical past have ended in human tragedy. Just as Procrustes was made to fit his bed by chopping off his legs, humanity is made to fit in an unattainable utopian box by destroying all that does not fit the ideal.
While Davidson focuses solely on the religious versions that are particularly prevalent at the moment, but this kind of golden age thinking can be found in other types of ideologies such as nationalism. We must all resist the siren song of these kinds of golden age narratives no matter how enticing they are.

History News Network | This is One Reason the World Is on Fire.


A Beautiful Story from an Unexpected Place: Srebrenica

“Srebrenica is famous for the massacre. But it’s time to move on and make a beautiful, inspiring story.” Ismar Poric, the choirmaster of Suprar

With all the violence in the Middle East and Africa a story from Srebrenica is hopeful. Talk about irony!

A group of children from Srebrenica (both Bosnian Serbs and Bosniaks) created a song (Love People) to raise money for the recent flood victims. The choirmaster, Ismar Poric, sees this as more than an opportunity to help the flood victims but also as an opportunity to heal the past. “In one way, the country is poisoned by nationalism – but the children are not. Their parents were in the war and told them stories. But we try to bring them together – put different ethnic groups together so they can learn about each other.”

Read the entire story at the BBC (“Srebrenica children seek harmony in music” By Guy De Launey)

 Children's choir in Srebrenica raising money for flood victims

The Massacre at Srebrenica: What Does the Situation Look Like Almost Twenty Years Later?

It had been a long time since I had thought about Srebrenica or the war in Bosnia, so when I saw Scott Anderson’s article in The New York Times Magazine (“Life in the Valley of Death”) this past weekend I was hoping for an optimistic update. I should have known better. It is difficult to heal from such traumatic events. The war in Bosnia had been raging since 1992 and the Bosniak refugees in the so-called UN protected “safe area” of Srebrenica were war weary, homeless, and hungry long before Ratko Mladic and his Bosnian Serb army showed up in July 1995. The massacre of 8,000 men at Srebrenica that followed was the beginning of the end of the Serbian campaign of ethnic cleansing. The elimination of the Muslim island in the Serbian sea opened the way for the peace talks at Dayton, Ohio that November. Continue reading