September 29, 2003

Bosnia, the Middle East, and "Realism"

Christopher Hitchens reviews French journalist Bernard-Henri LÚvy's new book Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

LÚvy has some interesting things to say, not just about Daniel Pearl and Pakistan, but about the Terror War in general.

Here is Hitchens:

Bernard-Henri LÚvy was a strong defender of Bosnia's right to exist, at a time when that right was being menaced directly by Serbian and Croatian fascists. It was a simplification to say that Bosnia was "Muslim," but it would also have been a simplification to say that the Bosnians were not Muslims. The best resolution of this paradox was to assert that Bosnia-Herzegovina stood for ethnic and cultural pluralism, and to say that one could defend Islam from persecution while upholding some other important values at the same time. I agree with M. LÚvy that it was a disgrace at the time, and a tragedy in retrospect, that so few Western governments took this opportunity.

But now we hear, from those who were indifferent to that massacre of Muslims, or who still protest the measures that were taken to stop the massacre, that it is above all necessary for the West to be aware of Islamic susceptibilities. This plea is not made on behalf of the pluralistic citizens of Sarajevo, but in mitigation of Hamas and Hezbollah and Saddam Hussein. One of the many pleasures of LÚvy's book is the care he takes to show the utter cynicism of the godfathers of all this.

Those who LÚvy and Hitchens refer to are actually being consistent. They are Kissinger "realists," and they side with whoever's in power. They really don't care who it is. To them the internal charactertistic of states do not matter. Stability, even a violent and nasty one, rules. A Christian Orthodox fascist who puts Muslims to the sword is as good as a theocratic mullahcracy that throws infidels into torture chambers.

During the Cold War it was often dangerous to be on the same side as the resistance. Odds were high that the Soviet Union backed them. That's not a problem anymore. The Soviets are gone, and there is no wisdom in behaving as though it weren't so.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 29, 2003 10:55 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

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