PDA

View Full Version : The case for ethnic cleansing



Entropy
03-30-2008, 04:08 AM
I did a search and did not find a topic on this article from the latest Foreign Affairs (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080301faessay87203/jerry-z-muller/us-and-them.html): Us and Them, The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism by Jerry Z. Muller. A summary:


Americans generally belittle the role of ethnic nationalism in politics. But in fact, it corresponds to some enduring propensities of the human spirit, it is galvanized by modernization, and in one form or another, it will drive global politics for generations to come. Once ethnic nationalism has captured the imagination of groups in a multiethnic society, ethnic disaggregation or partition is often the least bad answer.

The most interesting aspect of the article concerns post-WWII large scale ethnic cleansing:


Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin all concluded that the expulsion of ethnic Germans from non-German countries was a prerequisite to a stable postwar order. As Churchill put it in a speech to the British parliament in December 1944, "Expulsion is the method which, so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble. . . . A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed at the prospect of the disentanglement of population, nor am I alarmed by these large transferences." He cited the Treaty of Lausanne as a precedent, showing how even the leaders of liberal democracies had concluded that only radically illiberal measures would eliminate the causes of ethnonational aspirations and aggression.

Between 1944 and 1945, five million ethnic Germans from the eastern parts of the German Reich fled westward to escape the conquering Red Army, which was energetically raping and massacring its way to Berlin. Then, between 1945 and 1947, the new postliberation regimes in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia expelled another seven million Germans in response to their collaboration with the Nazis. Together, these measures constituted the largest forced population movement in European history, with hundreds of thousands of people dying along the way.

The handful of Jews who survived the war and returned to their homes in eastern Europe met with so much anti-Semitism that most chose to leave for good. About 220,000 of them made their way into the American-occupied zone of Germany, from which most eventually went to Israel or the United States. Jews thus essentially vanished from central and eastern Europe, which had been the center of Jewish life since the sixteenth century.

Millions of refugees from other ethnic groups were also evicted from their homes and resettled after the war. This was due partly to the fact that the borders of the Soviet Union had moved westward, into what had once been Poland, while the borders of Poland also moved westward, into what had once been Germany. To make populations correspond to the new borders, 1.5 million Poles living in areas that were now part of the Soviet Union were deported to Poland, and 500,000 ethnic Ukrainians who had been living in Poland were sent to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Yet another exchange of populations took place between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, with Slovaks transferred out of Hungary and Magyars sent away from Czechoslovakia. A smaller number of Magyars also moved to Hungary from Yugoslavia, with Serbs and Croats moving in the opposite direction.

As a result of this massive process of ethnic unmixing, the ethnonationalist ideal was largely realized: for the most part, each nation in Europe had its own state, and each state was made up almost exclusively of a single ethnic nationality. During the Cold War, the few exceptions to this rule included Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia. But these countries' subsequent fate only demonstrated the ongoing vitality of ethnonationalism. After the fall of communism, East and West Germany were unified with remarkable rapidity, Czechoslovakia split peacefully into Czech and Slovak republics, and the Soviet Union broke apart into a variety of different national units. Since then, ethnic Russian minorities in many of the post-Soviet states have gradually immigrated to Russia, Magyars in Romania have moved to Hungary, and the few remaining ethnic Germans in Russia have largely gone to Germany. A million people of Jewish origin from the former Soviet Union have made their way to Israel. Yugoslavia saw the secession of Croatia and Slovenia and then descended into ethnonational wars over Bosnia and Kosovo.

The implication, of course, is that Europe's presently peaceful condition is at least partially the direct result of ethnic cleansing.

Might this be replicated elsewhere in the world and furthermore could it be considered a morally acceptable solution to enduring ethnic strife?

Cavguy
03-30-2008, 05:04 AM
The implication, of course, is that Europe's presently peaceful condition is at least partially the direct result of ethnic cleansing.

Might this be replicated elsewhere in the world and furthermore could it be considered a morally acceptable solution to enduring ethnic strife?

Ralph Peters wrote an essay a few years ago along said lines, arguing against keeping "artificial" states together and letting them split, along with the ethnic cleansing that came along with it. The summation was that the effort we spend trying to keep failed nations together isn't worth it and prolongs the inevitable.

Very much the bare knuckled realist school of foreign policy.

Rex Brynen
03-30-2008, 05:14 AM
The implication, of course, is that Europe's presently peaceful condition is at least partially the direct result of ethnic cleansing.

Might this be replicated elsewhere in the world and furthermore could it be considered a morally acceptable solution to enduring ethnic strife?

Statistically, ethnic diversity in and of itself is a poor predictor of the likelihood of civil conflict.

More to the point, I don't think anyone who has seen what ethnic cleansing looks like on the ground--the realities of the mass killings and mass rapes which propel large-scale forced displacement, the tragedy of refugee and IDP camps, the multi-generational lust for justice/vengeance, can find this a morally or politically acceptable option.

Tom and Stan may want to weigh in from their field experience of ethnic cleansing in central Africa. I can certainly say that neither the Assyrian nor Roman ethnic cleansing of Jews, nor the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, did a terribly good job of bringing lasting peace to Israel/Palestine.

Billy Ruffian
03-30-2008, 06:08 AM
I don't think anyone who has seen what ethnic cleansing looks like on the ground--the realities of the mass killings and mass rapes which propel large-scale forced displacement, the tragedy of refugee and IDP camps, the multi-generational lust for justice/vengeance, can find this a morally or politically acceptable option.

Tom and Stan may want to weigh in from their field experience of ethnic cleansing in central Africa. I can certainly say that neither the Assyrian nor Roman ethnic cleansing of Jews, nor the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, did a terribly good job of bringing lasting peace to Israel/Palestine.

Hi Rex, I'm going to have to agree with you on this one. Ethnic cleansing doesn't really do a good job, unless you root out and hunt down and eliminate every single last one of the people you are trying to kill. If some of them get away and form a diaspora, they'll remember. They always do. Thanks to the Irish American diaspora the British Empire got Fenian Raids, IRB, IRA (in all it's splinter groups and ideological differences), Sein Fein, 'Irish Relief' funding and Eamon De Valera.

Stan
03-30-2008, 11:12 AM
Statistically, ethnic diversity in and of itself is a poor predictor of the likelihood of civil conflict.

More to the point, I don't think anyone who has seen what ethnic cleansing looks like on the ground--the realities of the mass killings and mass rapes which propel large-scale forced displacement, the tragedy of refugee and IDP camps, the multi-generational lust for justice/vengeance, can find this a morally or politically acceptable option.

Tom and Stan may want to weigh in from their field experience of ethnic cleansing in central Africa. I can certainly say that neither the Assyrian nor Roman ethnic cleansing of Jews, nor the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs, did a terribly good job of bringing lasting peace to Israel/Palestine.

Well put, Rex !
Just how the author compares peaceful repatriation in Europe to ethnic cleansing has me miffed. A quick two weeks in Sub-Sahara should help the author identify the ghastly meaning of ethnic cleansing and genocide, and we could then conclude there are no inherent benefits (unless we include death and famine as positive results :wry:).


...and the Soviet Union broke apart into a variety of different national units. Since then, ethnic Russian minorities in many of the post-Soviet states have gradually immigrated to Russia

Not at all true on this end of the globe. Fact is, the Baltic States would love it if most of the ethnic Russians either behaved themselves, or simply went home. 50 years later, neither has occurred. Furthermore, the ethnic Russians are in no way interested in repatriating 'home', and Mother Russia is only interested in using her 'stateless' people as rhetoric and political bargaining chips. Their departure could then be viewed as a positive form of ethnic cleansing :D


Ethnic cleansing doesn't really do a good job, unless you root out and hunt down and eliminate every single last one of the people you are trying to kill. If some of them get away and form a diaspora, they'll remember. They always do.

Indeed, Billy. One need only reflect on the DRC's last 3 decades to fully appreciate what it means to remain in asylum holding a grudge. Trouble is, now the youngest generation of Congolese and Rwandans have been utilized and exposed to ethnically-driven tensions under the guise of political and social upheaval and civil war.

...Just add firearms, bring to boil and stir frequently :eek:

Regards, Stan

Tom Odom
03-30-2008, 12:15 PM
I can only say that to this day I still have episodes where I can not only see the slaughter in Rwanda but I can also smell it...

I would say the author misses the point that two things happened at the end of WWII: the Germans lost and lost in the worst possible way. That is to say that they lost a war they created on ethnic lines in pursuit of ethnic goals and slaughterd millions in the process. They had a large bill to pay and their was little pity left in the collectors. As for the Soviets, they pursued Stalinist policies as they had before the war. Stalin just like Hitler used these tactics as a matter of course.

In the case of Rwanda, the truth of the matter was that the geoncide gave the killers a political victory through absolute control of the Hutu refugee population and allowed them to maintain a government in exile. But they lost militarily and they lost morally. The RPF won control of Rwanda and it won the favor of world opinion. Its control of Rwanda would allow it to launch an even greater war 2 years later to conquer the Congo. That war is yet to conclude in any real way and the cost so far is 5 million and counting.

Simple solutions like that offered by Ralph Peters make catchy articles but little more. They never address the butcher's bill.

Best

Tom

ancien
03-30-2008, 02:25 PM
The ethnic issue is in most cases not the root of the problem. If you look at the origin of problems in multi ethnic communities then you find in most situations that geographic and economics are the primary problems.

I donít think that the common man is thinking to commit ethnic cleansing, but he get stimulated by his own political leaders to discriminate and by that philosophy it would benefit the solutions for a nations problem.

Donít fall in that trap.

grtz

Entropy
03-30-2008, 02:44 PM
Thanks for the replies all. I want to make clear that this is NOT something I am supporting nor indeed could I support and still subscribe to my American ideals.

Tom's comment about the unique conditions in Europe at the end of WWII and the totality of the German loss is a really good point to make.

John T. Fishel
03-30-2008, 03:46 PM
I would have to argue that there are, indeed, cases where ethnic separation (less the horrific 'cleansing') make sense. The population exchange of Greece and Turkey after WWI, although hardly peaceful, has worked out relatively well in the long run. In the nearer term, the separation of Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus - again not peaceful - has resulted in a more peaceful island. (Yes, I know it has the longest running peacekeeping operation in the history of the UN:eek:, but also one of the most peaceful.)

I would also say that aquiescing in the breakup of Yugoslavia was one of the dumber things the West has done at great cost to Serbs, Croats, Bosniacs, and Kosovars in terms of ethnic cleansing. And we are about to compound the problem whenever we get around to trying to make Kosovo's decaratory independence truly de facto.:rolleyes:

Cheers

JohnT

Tom Odom
03-30-2008, 04:05 PM
I would have to argue that there are, indeed, cases where ethnic separation (less the horrific 'cleansing') make sense. The population exchange of Greece and Turkey after WWI, although hardly peaceful, has worked out relatively well in the long run. In the nearer term, the separation of Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus - again not peaceful - has resulted in a more peaceful island. (Yes, I know it has the longest running peacekeeping operation in the history of the UN:eek:, but also one of the most peaceful.)

I would also say that aquiescing in the breakup of Yugoslavia was one of the dumber things the West has done at great cost to Serbs, Croats, Bosniacs, and Kosovars in terms of ethnic cleansing. And we are about to compound the problem whenever we get around to trying to make Kosovo's decaratory independence truly de facto.:rolleyes:

Cheers

JohnT

JohnT

I agree with you in the sense that once certain forces are unleached ethnic cleansing may indeed be the solution that evolves. It has happened to many times in history for us to simply dismiss it.

My concerns are simply that we recognize how lethal these forces are and just how unstoppable they can prove to be (or how costly stopping them can prove to be should we try to do so).

You offer our acceptance of the Yugoslav breakup as an example of poor decisionmaking. I am not a Balkans guy but I think I understand what you are getting at. I am not sure that we could have stopped it given everything that was happening at the time.

But as a Middle East guy, I was shocked and extremely angry when the Dep SecDef for Policy Wolfowitz (Wolfotwit) siad in 2002/2003 prewar that ethnic tensions in Iraq were nothing like those in the Balkans. That is the kind of ignorant and willfully stupid decision that does set in motion the forces of ethnic cleansing.

Entropy: I don't think anyone here thought you were advocating ethnic cleansing. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

Best

Tom

Presley Cannady
03-30-2008, 05:01 PM
Don't savings only follow relocation when targeted group is weak or otherwise mobile and not terribly attached to their ancestral lands? Setting aside all the other game changing tragedies of a post-war Europe entering the Cold War, the plight of the European Jews and the survivors' flight from Central and Eastern Europe didn't accompany a break up of states or national cultures. On the other hand, I don't see the Irish, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Israelis, Palestinians, or any of the other trendy ethnonationalists moving for greener pastures anytime soon--cold dead hands and all.

Entropy
03-30-2008, 05:37 PM
Entropy: I don't think anyone here thought you were advocating ethnic cleansing. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

I assumed that, but just wanted to make it clear. Sometimes the medium can give false impressions.

A couple of questions:

Is it possible to "manage" ethnic separation to reduce its brutality? Could this ever be the "least bad" option to exercise and if so, what might the conditions be?

As for the Balkans - I'm no expert there either, but it seems like a mixed bag at the current time. Slovenia and Croatia appear to be thriving while Bosnia is only held together by peacekeeping forces. Are those who were forcibly removed from, for example, Croatia likely to be back in 50 or 500 years to seek revenge and deliver quid pro quo?

As for Europe, it's period of peace has not been that long in the grand scheme of things. It seems entirely possible and maybe even likely that the kind of warfare Europe experienced for most of its modern history might return one day.

John T. Fishel
03-30-2008, 08:16 PM
but it seems from a reading of history that there was a South Slav nationalism that went beyond a greater Serbia. Similarly, there are those in Iraq who see a united nation and not just 3 major (& several minor) ethnic entities.

As to the question of wheter separation can be effectively managed - Cyprus is th best example I can think of and it was only managed after Turkey invaded. Moreover, it seems to be a case of permanent PKO!:eek: But, perhaps, that is the least bad solution.

Cheers

JohnT

Rex Brynen
03-30-2008, 09:59 PM
Thanks for the replies all. I want to make clear that this is NOT something I am supporting nor indeed could I support and still subscribe to my American ideals.

..and apologies if my response was a bit too-sharped edge, although it was aimed at the concept and not you. Sadly, I routinely encounter people who do think its a good idea.