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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 14-Mar-06
Slobodan Milosevic's death on Saturday reminds us of the relevance of World War I

Web Log - March, 2006

Slobodan Milosevic's death on Saturday reminds us of the relevance of World War I

Found dead in his cell during his trial for war crimes in Bosnian war, the death of the former Serb leader has evoked the strongest emotions among Europeans. He's being tried with 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Slobodan Milosevic
Slobodan Milosevic

When you were in high school, you probably learned how World War I started -- the assassination in 1914 of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serb high school student, as part of a conspiracy involving Muslims and Orthodox Christians Bosnian students. The resulting war, which pitted Muslims and Orthodox Christians against Western Christians (Catholics and Protestants), and then spread to (Orthodox) Russia, to (Western Christian) Germany and France, and to (Muslim) Turkey.

Today we talk about a "clash of civilizations" between Muslim and Western civilizations as if that were a new thing. Actually, there are three different major civilizations involved, and it's been going on periodically for centuries.

When most Americans refer to "Europe" they're almost always talking about Western Europe -- U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and so forth.

Furthermore, most Americans assume that Eastern Europe is pretty much like Western Europe.

Finally, most Americans think that World War I was pretty much the same as World War II in Europe, with the Germans attacking France and all.

Most of that is completely wrong. Eastern Europe is Christian, but not Catholic or Protestant; Eastern Europe is part of the Orthodox Christian civilization, extending further east into Russia and Asia, where the Russian Orthodox religion is practiced.

Eastern Europe / Western Asia, showing major Orthodox/Muslim fault line regions: Balkans, Crimea, and Caucasus (mountains).  Not shown: Muslim Bosnia, east of Serbia in Balkans.
Eastern Europe / Western Asia, showing major Orthodox/Muslim fault line regions: Balkans, Crimea, and Caucasus (mountains). Not shown: Muslim Bosnia, east of Serbia in Balkans.

Any "clash of civilizations" between Christians and Muslims mostly involved Orthodox Christians, and those crisis wars most took place in three regions: The Balkans, the Crimea and the Caucasus.

WW I heavily involved all three of those regions, and I hardly involved Western Christianity at all, even though Germany, France and UK were marginally involved. WW I was mainly an East European war, with enormous consequences for both the Orthodox and Muslim civilizations: Russia had its Bolshevik Revolution, ending its 500 year old Czarist empire, replacing it with a Communist state. And the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish empire that had conquered countries across Africa, Europe, Mideast and Asia under Muslim control, collapsed completely.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all the major battles of WW I have been getting re-fought. There was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the war between Syria and Lebanon in the late 70s and early 80s, the war between Turkey and PKK Kurds that ended in 2001.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

Some major WW I battles have yet to re-fought. A good example is the Caucasus war. I've listed this region as one of the The Six Most Dangerous Regions of the World because it's overdue to explode into a full-fledged regional crisis war that will trigger the "clash of civilizations" world war.

But the Balkans war has been re-fought, right on schedule in the 1990s, almost exactly 80 years after the previous Balkans crisis war (the one that started WW I).

This brings us back to Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic led the Serbs in a series of "ethnic cleansing" wars against the Croats and Bosnians. The Serbs are Orthodox, the Croats are Catholic and Protestant, and the Bosnians are Muslim.

Those three groups have been fighting crisis wars at regular intervals for centuries. The 1990s Balkans war had to happen, because crisis wars always happen again, 60-90 years later, when the generation of people who lived through the horrors of the preceding crisis war all disappear (retire or die), all at once.

And the 1990s wars were unbelievably brutal. A few weeks ago, I quoted a description of these wars by Amy Chua, in her book, World on Fire, about the 1990s Balkans wars. It's worth repeating:

"In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed."

When I quoted this description last month, it was in the context of explaining why there wasn't, and couldn't be, a civil war in Iraq, no matter what nonsense you hear from the journalists hoping to make America look as bad as possible. There can't be a civil war in Iraq because the Sunnis and Shiites don't hate each other nearly enough.

That's the difference between crisis wars and non-crisis wars in Generational Dynamics: non-crisis wars can be deadly, but they're logical, methodological and political. But crisis wars are driven by genocidal fury, pure visceral hatred.

Since the Balkans wars had to happen, it seems strange to blame Milosevic for being its cause. And it seems even stranger to say, as a Washington Post editorial said, that he was "one individual [who] can shape the course of history." He was the agent, the person who was in the right place at the right time. If he'd never been born, then someone else would have led the wars, and they would have been been the same.

Here's something else that's strange: The news coverage on TV and on the 'net often said something like, "the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II."

That was a bad atrocity, but there have been plenty of worse atrocities since WW II, though not in Europe; there was the murder of close to a million Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994; there were thousands of Palestinian refugees butchered in Sabra and Shatila in 1982; 1 1/2 million deaths in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, where poison gas was used; and there were millions slaughtered in the Cambodian killing fields in the mid-1970s. There are many more examples of genocide since WW II.

All these different genocides were in different countries, on different generational timelines, with several of them on the WW I timeline.

World War II began roughly 20-25 years the genocides of WW I, and today we're roughly 10-25 years past many of the genocides of re-fought battles on the WW I timeline.

Today we're about to re-fight the leftover battles of WW I, especially the Russian Revolution, and we're about to re-fight all of the battles of WW II.

As Slobodan Milosevic goes to his funeral, he's considered to be a unique monster. As we head for a new "clash of civilizations" world war, we're undoubtedly going to see a number of additional similar monsters. (14-Mar-06) Permanent Link
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