It’s always a bit strange to have two big anniversaries at the same time, and I’m really glad one of them was mentioned on the radio this morning or I would have gone about blissfully unaware of the cosmic irony/coincidence/shitfest. I was about to ask how many of you remember Srebrenica , but I don’t actually remember Srebrenica – I was gestating at the time and too busy growing legs to listen to the World Service (I have no idea if my parents did either now I think about it). Anyway, Srebrenica was one of the case studies we learnt in Politics about how the UN is well-meaning but inefficient, which kind of tells you everything you need to know.
Basically, between 1993 and 1995 there was a war between ethnic groups in the area that’s now Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The whole area was part of Yugoslavia during the Soviet era, and when the USSR ended people who’d lived side-by-side for decades suddenly remembered they didn’t like each other because they had different religions and whanot. The war was so bad that in 1993 the UN announced that the predominantly Bosnian Muslim town of Srebrenica was a ‘safe area’ for Muslims. (The opposing side was Christian. Love thy neighbour indeed.) In July 1995, Christian Serbian forces, led by a dude named Ratko Mladic, twigged that there were lots of Muslims living in Srebrenica and stormed the place, deporting and raping women and forcing the men to flee into the surrounding mountains. Then they found the men, shot about 8000 of them and buried their bodies so well that people are still finding new ones today. The Dutch UN forces in Srebrenica had neither the means nor permission to do anything for about ten days, which is when the UN got their shit together and NATO bombed the Serbian forces.
That, kids, is called a genocide. It was the worst European one since the Nazis and you can learn more about it here.
Anyway, I’m guessing more of you remember 7/7? I’m doing that old person thing of thinking it was two weeks ago, but seriously it’s hard to believe it was 10 years. Thinking about it now, although 9/11 helped cause the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which inspired ISIS, al Qaeda seem hopelessly 2000s. No one bombs public transport any more – they brainwash teens on the Internet and shoot random strangers. And take their children to live in Syria. And try to make their version of a religion into a functioning Middle Eastern state.
In a few years we’ll all consider ISIS perpetrators of genocide. President Assad’s regime too, although I believe he’s back on the West’s side while ISIS are a bigger issue than democracy and chemical gas.
What I’m trying to say – and I’d be a lot more eloquent if the draft I saved hadn’t disappeared 15 minutes into an excellent paragraph – is that there are a lot of people who will try to tell you that human behaviour is inborn, or that all Muslims should personally apologise for ISIS, or that Word War II was the last time anything bad happened to Europeans. These people haven’t thought about anything that goes beyond their front door. Shit happens, and sometimes we could have prevented it if we thought a bit harder. Sometimes we couldn’t. Mostly we’ll never know. Regardless, if you take a moment to think about Srebrenica or 7/7 or any of the other waste of human lives that’s happened in the last century, you might be a teeny bit smarter than the people at the UN who didn’t fully think through Srebenecia, or who let the Iraq war happen without considering consequences.
That in itself will probably guarantee that you’ll never get a place in the UN, huh.