CHAPTER THIRTEEN RELIGION, CULTURE, and CONFLICTLanguage & religion are two of the most powerful forces shaping the geography ofculture.Histories can bitterly divide peoples who speak the same language, have the same ethnicbackground, and make their living in similar ways.Religious conflicts usually involve more than differences in spiritual practices andbeliefs. Religion functions as a symbol of a wider set of cultural and politicaldifferences.
INTRAFAITH BOUNDARIES Intra-faith boundaries are found in countries that lie entirely within the realms of an individual religion. An example of intra-faith boundaries creating tensions and violence is Iraq.
The U.S. government unintentionally reinforced these intra-faith boundaries followingthe first Gulf War in ’91. No-Fly-Zones were created to protect the Kurds in the Northand the Shiites in the South.
Following the Iraqi War in ’03, the U.S.is struggling to establish stability anda democratic govt. in Iraq. Intra-faithboundaries are at the heart of theproblem.The interests & demands of theKurds, the Shiite majority, and SunniBaathists must be addressed andreconciled.
EXCLAVES and ENCLAVESExclaves and enclaves are the products of one country’s territory encroaching and/orsplitting another country’s territory. One country’s exclave is another’s enclave.
BOSNIAThe civil war in Bosnia began following the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1992. 3 ethnicand/or religious groups dominating Yugoslavia fought for control of the new state.
For two years (1992-1994), BosnianMuslims pleaded for western help;atrocities committed by Bosnian Serbs(ethnic cleansing) were revealed tothe world.
No direct U.S. military intervention was forthcoming, as the U.S. and European countriesdebated over whose responsibility it was to help. The first stage of U.S. involvementconsisted of aerial food drops to besieged Muslims.
During the conflict Bosnian Serb invaders would routinely round up young Muslim malesand either execute them, or place them in detention camps. Those Serbs initiatingand/or implementing ethnic cleansing are sought for war crimes.
In 1994, a U.S. sponsored peace plan wasproposed that would partition Bosnia into3 ethnic sections. This plan was notacceptable to the Muslims or the Serbs.
The major breakthrough in 1994 was anagreement to end the conflict betweenMuslims and Croats (they would joinforces against the Serbs).
Despite the Muslim/Croat agreement, life for Bosnian Muslims contributed to be grim. Inthe fall of ’94, pressure mounts on President Clinton to initiate more forceful action asAmericans are shown a daily photo diary of life for besieged Muslims inSarajevo, including residents sifting through trash looking for food, ….
… waiting in long, dangerous lines for limitedwater, …
… residents fearful to venture from their homes because of deadly Serb snipers, …
… and children experiencing the trauma of living in the “dead zone,” as Sarajevo was calledby residents.
The catalyst for Clinton to issue a final ultimatum to the Bosnian Serbs besiegingSarajevo occurred days before Christmas, 1994, when a Serb artillery shell exploded in acrowded market, killing many civilians, including young children. The ultimatum from Clinton was simple: move your artillery back at least 12 miles within 72 hours, or face NATO bombing strikes.
The 72 hours comes and goes and the Serb artillery remains around Sarajevo, so the U.S.becomes directly involved in the conflict when NATO warplanes bomb Serb positions inresponse to Serb shelling of Muslims in Sarajevo.NATO action forces the Serbs to the negotiating table; Muslim and Croat militaryvictories weaken the Serb position. For the first time, Muslims show a reluctance tonegotiate with the Serbs.
Despite direct American military involvement, many Americans remained indifferent to theconflict.
THE DAYTON ACCORDSIn November, 1995, the U.S. sponsored Dayton Accords is signed ending the BosnianWar. Provisions included: 1. 51/49 split of Bosnia 2. NATO force (IFOR) to enforce treaty provisions. This force originally consisted of 60,000 troops (20,000 U.S. troops). 3. The reversing of Serb ethnic cleansing. 4. The capture & prosecution of individuals (primarily Serbian) for alleged war crimes. 5. A shared, three-way, presidency.
Compliance has not been complete to this point, especially with the issues of ethniccleansing and other war crimes (rape) unresolved.
CURRENTLY in BOSNIAThe collective presidency has not worked – the Serb president pulled out.The original IFOR mission comes and goes without real peace and NATO’s mission is extendedindefinitely (approx. 1,000 U.S. troops remain).Permanent peace is not imminent: 1. Continued problems with compliance (Muslim refugees & ethnic cleansing) 2. War crimes issues
Since the Dayton Accords, the Bosnian Muslim military has been arming & training. Theymay attempt to regain losses and/or reverse ethnic cleansing when NATO leaves.* The big question for the U.S. president is how long should we/can we stay in Bosnia?And, do these people truly want peace? Until the two arch-villains of the conflict were arrested and prosecuted, there would not be a permanent peace. Milosevic (r) was arrested and he died while standing trial at the World Court in 2006. Bosnian Serb leader, Karadzic, was arrested in early 2009 and is awaiting a war crimes trial.
In 2007, Montenegro formally parted fromthe union with Serbia, thus Yugoslavia is nota functioning political entity any longer.
KOSOVOKosovo is a province in s.w. Serbia, with a population that is 90% ethnic-Albanian(Muslim). There has been historic tension between Serbs and ethnic-Albanians inKosovo.
The break-up of Yugoslavia encourages ethnic-Albanians in Kosovo to seekindependence from Serbia, but the Serb govt. refuses. The Serbs considerKosovo to be the cradle of their civilization. When negotiations fail in the summer of ’98, a rebel ethnic-Albanian force (KLA) began an attempt to drive the Serbs out of Kosovo.
Early military gains by the KLA are quicklyreversed by a brutal and superior Serbmilitary response.The Serbs incorporate the strategy ofethnic cleansing to end the uprising andregain control of the province.
The U.S. supported more Albanian autonomy, but not independence. The U.S. views theSerbs as the aggressors, and president Clinton calls for Serbia’s restraint.
The U.S. becomes directly involved in the fall of 1998 as accounts of Serb brutality aredocumented and published.
After several warnings from the Clinton Admin. that the Serbsignored, NATO, led by the U.S., began a massive bombing campaign to drivethe Serbs out of Kosovo in the spring of 1999.
The primary architects of Clinton’s massive air campaign were Secretary of StateMadeline Albright and NATO Supreme Military Commander, Gen. Wesley Clark.
Albanian refugees rapidly returned to Kosovo inthe wake of the Serbian withdrawal.And ironically, large numbers of new Serbianrefugees followed the Serbian military out ofKosovo.
A NATO peacekeeping force (K-FOR), led by the U.S., arrived inJune, 1999. This force remains in Kosovo without anend in sight. Tensions remained highbetween Albanians and Serbs, as thefate of the province remained unclearuntil February of 2008.
After 9 years of ethnic-Albanians and Serbs bickeringover the fate of Kosovo, theprovincial govt. of Kosovodeclared independence onFebruary 17, 2008.The U.S. and many members ofthe EU quickly recognized thenew country, but Serbia andRussia were quick to condemnthe declaration, saying it wouldfoment separatism elsewhere.
Serbian anger was violently demonstrated towardthe U.S. support of Kosovo independence whenSerbian mobs attacked the U.S. embassy inBelgrade.At present, the long-term fate of Kosovo isunknown.
NORTHERN IRELAND The fate of N. Ireland is one of Europe’s longest running conflicts. N. Ireland comprises 17% of the island. Currently the fate of N. Ireland is unresolved.
Protestant-dominated Great Britainremains in control of N.Ireland, which has a dominantProtestant population.
N. IRELAND COMBATANTSTHE BRITISH: The occupying power in N. Ireland. Their occupation has become thesymbol of resistance for the IRA. At this time, they do not show any signs ofrelinquishing N. Ireland.
THE IRA: (Irish Republican Army) Nationalist organization created in 1916 and opposed to the connection of N. Ireland to Britain. It is committed to driving out the British by resorting to guerilla warfare. Represents Catholic minority (38%).
THE UNIONISTS: Protestants living in N. Ireland who are committed to remaining a part of the U.K. They represent 51% of the population. Unionists are also guilty of committing deadly acts of violence.
SHOULD the BRITISH RELINQUISH?WHY IT SHOULD …. 1. Enormous costs, both financial & human. The British have budget problems. 2. N. Ireland does not have any strategic or economic value. 3. The island should be unifiedWHY IT SHOULD NOT …. 1. N. Ireland has been a part of the UK for centuries – cultural identity. 2. Image – UK can’t be pushed out through terror – must be on their terms. 3. UK has invested tremendously (time & money) – can’t just hand it over.What do you think the British should do?
THE CURRENT SITUATION IN N. IRELANDThe big breakthrough after decades of violence occurred in the spring of 1998 (theGood Friday Agreement brokered by a U.S. intermediary).
The cornerstone of the peaceagreement was a power-sharing planbetween Catholics & Protestants in N.Ireland (Catholic minority would gainmore political power).Also under the agreement, the IRA wasrequired to disarm and relinquish theirweapons (Catholic concession). This hadbeen an obstacle to fully implementingthe agreement.
The British maintain control over N. Ireland for the time being. But despite showing nosigns of relinquishing control, the British have downsized their military presence whileit allows a measure of semi-autonomy (may be a first step of eventual withdraw).
Despite consistent bickering between the two sides, the fragile agreement has held-up.But it does not resolve the central issue – the future fate of N. Ireland.