Peter Tarlow is a travel and tourism security expert and sent this report from Europe.
Yesterday I left Croatia and entered Bosnia-Herzegovina. In one kilometer I traveled hundreds of cultural miles. Croatia is western European, Bosnia, although next door is another world. One of our destinations there was the “infamous” Bridge at Mostar, the site of much fighting between Croats and Muslims.
The place is a great reminder of how little westerners understand that the term “nation-state” has nothing to do with this part of the world where nations and “states” (états) continue to be two very separate concepts. In fact on the ground one can understand the reason that languages such as English, French, or Spanish hamper clarity of thought; their terminological taxonomies are simply not reflective of much of the world’s reality.
To get a more precise and better understanding of the political realities in this part of the world, reread the Book of Esther. The Biblical book helps modern day westerners to understand not only the correct political lexicon but also how true is the statement in this part of the world that “those who fail to forget history are often condemned to relive it!”
Mostar bridge: A bridge to war
Bosnia is an artificial “state” composed of many nations, each struggling to maintain its identity and where the term “religion” in the Western sense is totally meaningless. Once again, western languages confuse rather than clarify terminology creating a hodgepodge of misconceptions and political policies that result in tragedy and death.
For example, the role of Britain and France in the 1990’s Balkan wars is either an example of benign political ignorance or political treachery mixed with a heavy doses of Machiavellian policies. The political judgments may belong to Individual historians but the results were tragic for those who live here and live with these misguided policies on a daily basis.
Ironically, the more one reads the Western media and its so-called intellectual pundits the less one understands. The results are political misdiagnosis often leading to tragic consequences.
City of Mostar, Muslim Quarter
My police officer friends and I entered Bosnia on a cold, foggy, and rainy day. The weather complemented the locale’s history and created a sense of mysterious dread whose clouds seemed to create a façade of layered truths. Just as one street’s or even building’s history is often segregated or separated from that of its neighbor’s so too the fog and moments of the sun seemed to symbolize the cacophony of cultures that bleed across political lines.
Here 19th-century Ottoman cultures touch Catholic cultures in ways that westerners rarely understand.
In this part of the world, you find a restaurant that plays videos of a war almost three decades old as if they reflected yesterday and mixes these scenes with western pop music. The message is simply beyond the understanding of the average “informed” well-educated westerner.
After a day of political and historical intrigue, I returned to Croatia, a land where the eastern part of the old and western-oriented Austrian-Hungarian Empire touches the popurrí of nationalities and peoples that composed the Ottoman Empire. Arriving back in Western European Split, a place that feels like home, I not only had pizza for dinner but also was reunited with my luggage. It was the end of a perfect day of entering the complex mindset of a world very different from my own.
Love to everyone
Well protected by Giant Croatian police