The Dragon of Mostar


The one thing all those years of brutal ethnic cleansing and pointless fratricidal war in the Balkans didn’t destroy was the dark sense of humor shared by all sides. Remember Mostar? The picturesque Bosnian town famous for its Ottoman era bridge became for a brief time a symbol of Balkan heartbreak? Well, it’s healing, now, sort of, in that way that the Balkans are, where war could break out again if only any side thought they had a realistic chance of winning — but they don’t, so it won’t. And so, the city fathers, sick of public art devoted to nationalist heroes who are inevitably villains to half the population, issued a playful put-down by commissioning a sculpture of Bruce Lee. The Kung-Fu movie legend was hailed as a symbol of “loyalty, skill, friendship and justice,” and the unveiling was hosted by a Chinese diplomat. And, of course, as one wag pointed out, nobody has anything to say about what Bruce Lee did in World War II, which in the Balkans appears to make him a unifying figure.

So, what did you do in the war, Bruce?

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