Monday, April 20, 2015

Hearts and minds

Tim Judah has another longer piece on the Ukrainian conflict in the NYRB (“Ukraine: Inside the Deadlock”). A most seasoned war reporter, he this time asks a somewhat naïve question: “It is baffling  why the Ukrainian government has not sought to win over the easterners by trying to send them its own aid convoys, even if the rebels prevented them from crossing into their territory. To ordinary people in the east it looks like Kiev does not care much about them and considers them the enemy.” Could it be that the volksgeist on both sides includes such communally biased attributions? In any case, this is a predisposition which will forever mystify cosmopolitan intellectuals – who can hardly understand how “weird” their own perspective may seem. Ironically, 100 years ago British observers had no problem understanding such mutual animosities among the squabbling “races” of the Balkans – and Eastern Europe in general.