August 18, 2008

Am I overreacting?

For the past few days, I've been absorbed by this book, The Cellist of Sarajevo. It's set during the siege of Sarajevo and follows four people. For two of them, the story traces the events of just one day. For two others, it spans 22 days. Overall, it's a beautiful meditation on what makes us human in the midst of inhumanity.

The thing is, I kept thinking, where was Europe as one of it's modern cities was being slowly exterminated?! Four years. The siege lasted four years. Four years of a city with a tunnel that could have evacuated every member, only the tunnel was controlled by those who became rich selling aid-supplies to starving inhabitants. Four years of risking sniper fire darting across streets where you used to sip coffee at a sidewalk café. Four years of expecting that someone, somewhere would come to the rescue.

We, the United States, get judged for intervening around the world. Judged most harshly by European countries. I thought our intervention in Afghanistan had some justification, the one in Iraq seemed wrong from the start. I'm not defending that action at all. Yet, Europe did nothing when the trouble was in its own land. Instead they waited for the United States to act. One could argue that was before the EU. Before Europe had the means or the will to act as one. (I fully acknowledge my understanding of the politics of the Balkan conflicts is murky at best . . .)

Except it's happening again in Georgia. Especially after all their protests about US behavior, why should they look to the US for any level of involvement?! Don't bitch at us for leaving our own borders and then turn around and whine that you want us involved in your own backyard.

From an article in the NY Times:
Still, Europe is taking comfort, as usual, “in the idea of mediating between Washington and Moscow.”


Rachel said...

I also read a book about Sarajevo recently, and yes, it's tragic that no country in Europe intervened until it was too late.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you're overreacting at all...I agree, I'm getting the book this weekend now.

Inkling said...

This post really made me think, and I admit to not realizing the connection of Europe's hesitancy to intervene and their quickness to expect things from the USA (and to criticize if we don't do it the way they envisioned). Anyway, now you've made me want to check out the book.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my long-winded processing post. Your always good at being real and not giving platitudes. That's a rare quality indeed, and one that is much appreciated by me. Thank you. You brightened my day.