Sunday, March 12, 2006

Knowledge Without A Larger Understanding

To trace the boundaries of the vanished Ottoman Empire, take a map of Europe and the Middle East and start shading in every country that, for the last 15 years, has been in the news thanks to civil war, ethnic cleansing, and terrorism. From Bosnia in the northwest to Baghdad in the southeast, the world's most dangerous zone is made up of Ottoman successor states, carved out of the corpse of the empire by rebellious ethnic groups (Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania) or high-handed European imperialists (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq). Just as the collapse of the U.S.S.R. made it possible to feel nostalgic for the Cold War as a time of relative stability, so the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Empire - a consummation devoutly wished by Europe for most of the 19th century, and finally achieved after World War I - can make even that corrupt, despotic regime look good.
From Knowledge Without A Larger Understanding - March 8, 2006 - The New York Sun, I post it here to spur consideration of the mega (meta?) context of Birds Without Wings ahead of Chris et al's next book club meeting.

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