Ivo Skoric on Thu, 31 Mar 2005 10:08:07 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> New US embassy in Sarajevo & the ex-Marshall Tito Bar

More about US arrogance:

March 21, 2005

Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State Government of the United
States of America Washington, DC

Dear Dr. Rice:

I am writing concerning the proposed plans for a new US embassy in
Sarajevo.  After a terrible war that brought out the nobility of a
but the baseness of many, and left countless innocent civilians at
mercy of those incapable of it, one of the few genuinely enlightened
measures undertaken by the beleaguered Federal Government of
Bosnia-Herzegovina was the donation of the ex-Marshall Tito Barracks
to the University of Sarajevo.

Few acts after so much destruction were so in the spirit of the
Biblical injunction to turn swords into ploughshares than this
decision to give over the huge Austrian-built, siege-scarred edifice
to the enterprise that most directly provides the foundation for a
productive and enlightened Bosnian future:  higher education.

The people of Bosnia had been subjected to mass murder and other
crimes against humanity, but similarly terrible crimes were committed
against culture and civilization in the name of primarily Serb but
also Croat nationalist programs.  Of these, the very worst was the
deliberate assault upon the National and University Library on August
25-26, 1992 with incendiary shells, which, plunging through the
magnificent stained glass skylight above the Library's atrium, caused
a conflagration resulting in the loss of an estimated 1,500,000
volumes and numerous special collections.  I ask you to contemplate
the enormity of this crime, in absolute terms arguably the worst
single case of deliberate book burning in history and a profound blow
to Bosnia's historic knowledge, cultural heritage, and educational
process.  The beautiful building itself was an icon of the city.

Where did the staff of the National Library and collections rescued
from the conflagration find a haven?  They found it in one wing and
the original stables of the Barracks, which were renovated with funds
from USAID, UNESCO, the Soros Foundation, and the World Bank.  The
Oriental Institute, totally devastated with all collections lost from
deliberate fire, was also given a home there.  With its new
the Barracks' structures were performing a critical role in the
University of Sarajevo's revival and in the intellectual life of

So what does the US do?  It asks the Bosnian government to hand over
the site of the Barracks for a new embassy, and to clear it of the
Barracks as well.  In what can only be described as a desperate
to curry favor with a great power whose attention has turned
elsewhere, the Bosnian government capitulated, followed by the
parliament, despite a thousand students protesting in the snow

This American plan can only be considered an arrogant disregard for
the welfare of Sarajevo and of all Bosnians.  If not a great
masterpiece, the Barracks remains a central monument of old Sarajevo
and a vital part of the city's institutional life.  The Americans can
afford to build anywhere, but with space at a premium after so much
destruction, where will the National and University Library and the
Oriental Institute, plus any other functions performed there go?  You
will build a bunker in the center of town that will be a blight on
cityscape and a reminder to all that the US gets what it wants,
regardless of the cost to others.  This should not be what the United
States is about, which should be a commitment to the welfare of
weaker nations, and to the support of the notion that might does not
make right, as is implicit in this sorry process.  This plan should
stopped before any actual damage is done.

Yours sincerely, Jeffrey B. Spurr, Coordinator, Bosnia Library

cc:  President George W. Bush, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware,
Congressman Tom Lantos of California, Dr. Enes Kujundizic, Director,
National and University Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, James Carroll,
The Boston Globe, George Soros, and others with an interest in the
fate of Bosnia and its institutions
Ivo Skoric
19 Baxter Street
Rutland VT 05701

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net