This summer marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where 8,000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, lost their lives in the single worst act of genocide in Europe since the 1940s. For many, the key lesson of Srebrenica is that the United States should have used military force against the Serbs sooner than they did. For others, Srebrenica is a painful reminder of the overstated value of military intervention as a solution to a humanitarian crisis which in reality, could have been avoided through diplomatic means.
Wars are rarely lost in a single encounter; Defeat is almost always more complex than that. The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have lost the war in Afghanistan, but not just because they failed in the battle for Marjah or decided that discretion was the better part of valor in Kandahar. They lost the war because they should never have invaded in the first place; because they never had a goal that was achievable; because their blood and capital are finite.
The massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, in July 1995, is now being remembered worldwide, as this grim event reaches its fifteenth anniversary. This was the largest single mass killing of the entire Bosnian war, and indeed, it was the worst massacre that Europe has seen since the 1940s.
The elections of Sunday, July 4th, in fourteen Mexican states can be seen as a struggle for Mexican territories by diverse power groups, including the drug cartels. And in the case of Oaxaca, it is, furthermore, the exercise of its citizenship by an aggrieved population whose movement was defeated in 2006, and which has subsequently turned to voting as a manifestation of their rejection of Ulises Ruiz and the political group that he represents.
Have you ever thought about just how strange this country’s version of normal truly is? Let me make my point with a single, hardly noticed Washington Post news story that’s been on my mind for a while. It represents the sort of reporting that, in our world, zips by with next to no reaction, despite the true weirdness buried in it.
Marylanders in Odenton, Annapolis, Frederick and our hometown of Columbia had their suspicions answered last week when The Washington Post published a three-part series about our unchecked, out-of-control expansion of the defense and intelligence operations that have grown since 2001. The expansion of this influential sector has been evident to us, as it has to Americans all around the country living near other defense and intelligence contractors and federal intelligence agencies.
Living in an area populated by a workforce with security clearance at intelligence agencies and contractors eliminates, among other things, all talk of work.
There are moments that define a war. Just such a one occurred on June 21, when Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry helicoptered into Marjah for a photo op with the locals. It was to be a capstone event, the fruit of a four-month counterinsurgency offensive by Marines, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, and the newly minted Afghan National Army (ANA) to drive the Taliban out of the area and bring in good government.
Whenever the social forum speaks of itself as the future of the U.S. Left, vexing issues arise: Can any coherent political program emerge from an amorphous, multi-issue assembly? Can we formulate a vision of the Left without more serious participation from key progressive constituencies such as organized labor? Can the collection of radicals and community-based organizations that are present here become a political force with mainstream reach, or are they too self-marginalizing? The answers are not easy to come by, and non-starry-eyed attendees can easily grow wary in contemplating such imposing matters.
Instead, increasingly acrimonious exchanges between Beijing and Washington reveal the contradictions inherent in attempting to shoehorn an authoritarian, mercantilist, and suspicious nation into a refurbished world system that ostensibly promotes democracy, open markets, multilateralism, while forcefully advancing American interests.