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It is difficult to resolve long-standing conflict in regions where a sense of history is vibrant in those who live it. Whether it be the Balkans, Sudan, the Near East or the Caspian Basin, for as long as peoples with immemorial grievances and remembrance of glories past still live every day so close to this who killed their ancestors — even if the harm was done centuries ago — they cannot forget and will take their turn to slaughter given a chance.

Stubbornness and long memories are bred into people who remain in harm’s way, one generation after another, as millenia march on. After all, those without these qualities have long abandoned their hearths and dissolved in the great melting pot of war and migration catalyzed by the ebb and flow of history. Would Jews still be Jews if they did not cling so firmly to their history and grievance? Would the Kikuyu? The Armenians? The Serbs?

This pattern always has persisted, and only an authority, strong and external, has proved effective in holding down a lid on the eternally simmering stew. Whenever this authority is weakened or defeated, we see the ancient hatreds reawaken to demand fresh blood in return for the latest sacrifice, however long ago it may have been. Whether it be Rome, the Caliphate, Turks and the Mameluks, the French and the British, the Austrians and Russians — each time their leaving has rekindled the flames that were embers left over from the last conflagration, and so it shall always be, for as long as the anyone remains to keep the flame of memory and avenge the ancient wrongs.

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