8.11.2007 | In case you missed it ...

Yugoslavia: History, like the car.
… and I know I did, which is unusual for me because I consider myself a follower of world affairs — Yugoslavia no longer exists.

Already worn down by the intense conflict of the 1990s, Yugoslavia had been hanging on to a thread as a federation of two of the country’s former remaining states — Serbia and Montenegro. In 2003, the name “Yugoslavia” was dropped altogether, leaving the country named after its two remaining constituents. Finally, in June 2006 (while I was on vacation, so that’s probably how I missed it), Montenegro declared its independence. Serbia followed suit, and the last union remaining from the former Yugoslavia disappeared off the map.

Sad, because elsewhere in Europe unions are growing stronger under the European Union — or at least they’re supposed to be. An anthropology professor I had for a couple of courses at VCU described the situation as paradoxical and hopeless — an attempt to achieve international integration while disintegration is happening within the member nations’ own countries (see Kosovo, Basque country, Muslim immigration, etc.). The only successful unification in Europe, it seems, was that of East and West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and even the wounds from that haven’t completely healed yet.

So, as Europe loses another of its federations (the last being Czechoslovakia, gone in 1994), and even Scotland may be on the verge of withdrawing from the United Kingdom, I can’t help but wonder how many more times the list of countries in this world will continue to grow in the decades ahead (East Timor comes to mind). And instead of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, we now have the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia (but not Serbia and Montenegro). Did I miss one? If so, that’s just one more reason I miss the old federations.

So, here’s a riddle for you: If even Europe can’t hold its countries together, what makes us think we can keep the Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites together in Iraq?

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