Amir’s voice, patched through to the United Nations base in Tuzla from the eastern Bosnian enclave in Srebrenica, was faint, but his fear came through in nauseating clarity. It was July 1995, and the Dutch battalion sent to protect the United Nations-designated safe area around Srebrenica had collapsed after United Nations officials refused to call for concerted NATO airstrikes.
“The Dutch are going to pull out — and leave us interpreters behind!” Amir cried, appealing to his United Nations civil affairs boss and me to force the Dutch to rescue him.
Preoccupied with the withdrawal of their own soldiers and overwhelmed by thousands of traumatized Muslim women and children expelled from Srebrenica, the Dutch gave us a bureaucratic “no.”
A second phone call with Amir convinced me to draw up a terse letter, dripping with legalese, declaring that, as United Nations staff members, interpreters were the legal responsibility of the Dutch.… Seguir leyendo »
Bosnia and Herzegovina is drowning. Torrential rains have unleashed roaring funnels of water and mudslides that have consumed entire villages and taken more than 30 lives, according to official Bosnian counts. Almost a million are reported displaced; many more remain at risk. The economic toll will reach into billions of dollars in a small country with a tragic history. As one Bosnian remarked, “We were already struggling, now we are sinking.”
But Bosnia is drowning for another reason, too, this one no act of God. It has been eight years since a painstaking effort, started in 1995, to establish efficient, shared institutions began to steadily unravel under a fresh onslaught of nationalism, corruption, cronyism and international neglect — a stagnation that seeped slowly but overwhelmingly into Bosnia’s political, economic and even spiritual life.… Seguir leyendo »
The United States isn’t responsible for the recent violent confrontations in Egypt, but it is stunningly clear that the Obama administration’s approach to the Arab uprisings is in shambles. Cataclysmic upheavals like those coursing through the Arab world are rare; rarer still is a second chance at shaping the outcome of such change. Yet this is what the crisis in Egypt offers. The United States and its European allies need to broaden the international community’s narrow focus on the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military and seize the opportunity to craft — in partnership with Egypt and other Arab states in transition — the architecture necessary to sustain democratic change.… Seguir leyendo »
For Greeks suffering from the wrenching pain of a long economic crisis, a youthful savior has emerged. Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the second-strongest party in Parliament, the Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, is not yet 40, but his relentless attack on austerity has made him a favorite to head the next government.
Tsipras has been visiting power centers in Europe and the United States to bolster his credentials and to press his case for debt relief. He argues that Europe is bluffing with its threat to expel Greece from the euro zone if it doesn’t implement severe cuts.… Seguir leyendo »