Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Shit. The Serbian PM was assassinated.

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who played a key role in the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, has been shot dead by a sniper.

Djindjic, 50, was hit twice in the chest in front of the main government building in Belgrade at about 12:45 p.m. local time (1145 GMT) on Wednesday. He underwent emergency surgery but doctors were unable to save his life, hospital officials said...

...Officials are speculating that the shooting could be linked to a crime wave in the country and the government's efforts to stamp out crime. An emergency session of the Serbian government was convened, government officials said...

Djindjic had put himself out on a limb to meet Western demands for aid by handing over other war criminals to the Hague. His reformist pro-Western stance drew opposition from Serb nationalists and created many enemies.
This is disturbing, if all of this is related. Combined nationalism and anti-Westernism is pretty much the key explosive mixture in the world today, and Serbian nationalism has, um, a rather long and checkered history in the first place. Most people have been operating under the assumption that the key ingredient for anti-Western sentiment (and violence) was fundamentalism of one form of another, but if that's somewhat of a chimera and the true problem is nationalism, then the problem becomes (if one can believe it) even thornier, and filled with even more depressing historical precedents.

It also raises the question of whether we'll end up in a situation of dueling irrational nationalisms as a source of conflict. After all, attacks on "the West" usually mean attacks on the United States, which is in no small way nationalistic itself. That example of nationalism in a wealthy country shows that prosperity cannot serve as a balm for nationalist sentiments in the third world... but if you can't buy your way out of conflict, Thomas Friedman-style, then how exactly do you end it? After all, Serbia has already been bombed, and these are illegals.

Definitely a worrisome event.

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