Thursday, December 18, 2003

A pessimistic law of history was at work here. Many such mixed communities [as Nagorny Karabakh] coexisted for centuries, not just in the Caucasus but throughout Eurasia and North Africa. And yet they were, in reality, only held together by fear, the fear of what a brutal outside authority would do to them all if mutual tolerance broke down. When the external pressure was removed, whether it was the Caliphate, the Tsardom, the Ottoman or British Empire, or Soviet power, then the current of fear which enforced that mutual tolerance was switched off.

Neal Ascherson, In the Black Garden, New York Review of November 20, 2003.

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