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  • War and Diplomacy: The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and the Treaty of Berlin ed. by M. Hakan Yavuz
  • Michael M. Gunter
War and Diplomacy: The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and the Treaty of Berlin. Edited by M. Hakan Yavuz with Peter Sluglett. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2011. 616 pp. $40 (cloth).

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, followed by the European-dictated Treaty of Berlin (1878), led to the Ottoman Empire losing practically all of its Balkans territory and parts of eastern Anatolia, and the subsequent expulsion and killing of millions of Muslims. The virtual collapse of the multinational Ottoman Empire led to a new system of nation-states in the Balkans, mass population movements, the intensification of ethnic identities, and ethnic and religious cleansings that continued with the recent horrid events in former Yugoslavia. On the other hand, to resist further Western imperialist encroachments, the remainder of the Ottoman Empire adopted an ideology of pan-Islamism that still reverberates in today’s Islamic world. As the editors note, “the new principles of ethnic sovereignty and the establishment of nation-states resulted in a new comprehensive strategy of ethnic or religious cleansing that would have tragic consequences both at the time and later” (p. 4). “Reforms that were supposed to calm ethno-nationalist conflict simply served to undermine the framework of the millet system, which had facilitated multiethnic and confessional coexistence for centuries” (p. 6).

The eighteen articles presented in this collection are well grounded in archival research and employ a multidisciplinary approach that may be read with benefit not only by diplomatic historians but also those interested in the origins of the modern nation-state system, Western-Islamic relations, ethnic conflict, counterinsurgency, and Islamic extremism. The first part of this compilation is titled “European Diplomacy and the Exclusion of the Ottoman ‘Other.’” In the first article, M. Hakan Yavuz, the primary editor of this entire compilation, “discusses the political background of the events and then the ‘making of the new polity’ through the Treaty of Berlin . . . , the political context of the war and the treaty through an analysis of their major consequences . . . , [and] the policies of the Ottoman state in coping with the challenges posed by the homogenization of new states through forced population movements” (p. 19). He concludes that “the post-Berlin period was the beginning of the ‘ethno-religious cleansing’ of Muslim Turks from the Balkans” (p. 28). Feroze A. K. Yasamee analyzes how Sultan Abdulhamid II attempted to deal with the new external and internal challenges resulting from the treaty. Sean McMeekin [End Page 231] examines the assertive policies of Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, while Mujeeb R. Khan shows how the new system marginalized the minorities in the name of Western-instituted progress, which today blow back as non-Western perceptions of double standards on Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, and Palestine.

Part 2 is titled “The Emergence of the Balkan State System.” Mehmet Hacısalihoğlu writes about how the results of the war undermined long-standing communal ties and provoked a series of conflicts among both the Muslims and Christians in the Balkans. Miroslav Svirčević illustrates how Serbia attempted to homogenize its population and the territories inhabited by Muslims. Edin Radušić shows how British policy ignored the needs of the local population. Aydın Babuna demonstrates how their agrarian and economic conditions led some local Muslims to oppose Austria-Hungary’s occupation of Bosnia. Isa Blumi suggests “that the very modern process of delineating identity with territories abstractly defined on a map entails as much destruction as construction . . . and toleration for those guilty of mass murder, rape, and ethnic cleansing” (p. 228). Gül Tokay further dissects the theme of European intervention under the rubric of reform and how it encouraged secessionist movements of various Christian groups in Macedonia and destabilized the region.

Part 3 is titled “The Beginning of the End in Eastern Anatolia: The Massacres of Armenians.” Brad Dennis disputes the claim that the Treaty of Berlin initiated the Armenian question and instead evaluates conflictual relations between the Kurds and Armenians regarding economic and social relations on the local level. Garabet...


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pp. 231-233
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