Michael Totten

Home Again

By Michael J. Totten
I’ve returned home with quite a lot of fresh material, mainly from Kosovo, but also from Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania. I spoke to religious leaders, American soldiers, political dissidents, Israelis, current and former ambassadors, and all sorts of other interesting characters.
I initially thought the former Yugoslavia might be a bit far afield from my usual beat in the Middle East, but the more time I spent there, the less I thought so. The troubles that wrack that part of the world really are identical to many of those in the Middle East. This should not be surprising. Most of Europe’s Balkan peninsula belonged to the Turkish Ottoman Empire and was cut off from the West and rest of Europe for hundreds of years. The peoples of Belgrade, Sarajevo, and Prishtina belonged to the same political entity as most of the Arabs for a longer amount of time than the United States has existed as a country. Al Qaeda and like-minded fanatics insist the region will belong to their future caliphate once again.
The stories I have in store for you are more varied than what I’ve been publishing lately. I felt like I was writing different versions of the same story over and over again in Iraq. There isn’t much going on there right now that I haven’t already written about. Perhaps at the end of this year that will change, and I will go back. Lebanon has changed, and I’m more likely to return there in the meantime. We’ll have to see.
Stay tuned. I finally have time to sit down and write, and it seems jet-lag has spared me this time. (I can barely write when I’m jet-lagged.) Hopefully you’ll find my new material entertaining as well as informative.