In today’s New York Times , neocon Leslie Gelb advocates a partition of Iraq into three ethnic statelets. Then he invokes a “precedent” (sic): Yugoslavia. According to Gelb, it was held together by Tito’s laudable coercion, but the supposed Serb coercion to that end was pure evil, and had to be fought until Yugoslavia fractured into “natural states” such as Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Of course, Bosnia is not natural, Kosovo is a textbook case of settler takeover, and Croatia was “free” only after an ethnic cleansing that put the WW2 genocide there to shame – but Gelb doesn’t bother with facts if they get in the way of a good argument.
It is too bad, in a way, because it [i]is[/i] a good argument – even though the hard-core statist Gelb thinks it only possible through massive use of Imperial coercion. It should be the choice of Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, Sunni and Shia – not the Empire – whether they want to stay together or go their separate ways after a century of infighting. As it should be for, say, Bosnians.
Gelb and his colleagues at the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Times would be scandalized at this passage, but all I did was change “Iraq” into “Bosnia” and adjust the time reference:
“For years, the United States has worshiped at the altar of a unified yet unnatural Bosnian state. Allowing all three communities within that false state to emerge at least as self-governing regions would be both difficult and dangerous. Washington would have to be very hard-headed, and hard-hearted, to engineer this breakup. But such a course is manageable, even necessary, because it would allow us to find Bosnia’s future in its denied but natural past.”
Kind of changes the perspective a bit, doesn’t it?