Jon Gallant
Dædalus (Summer, 1997) reports some examples of the wish-list approach to Geography. In 1910, Romania's founding king, Carol I, declared that "we belong to the Balkans neither ethnographically nor geographically nor any other way." In January, 1997, President Franjo Tudjiman of Croatia declared:
"Croatia belongs to Central Europe and Mediterranean circles. A short Balkan episode in Croatian history must never be repeated. ...We should add a new article, a constitutional ban, on attempts to merge Croatia with any Yugoslav or Balkan state or federation."

Rumania is already applying to join NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), apparently under the view that it is ethnographically and geographically in the North Atlantic rather than the Balkans. Why not? The Black Sea on Rumania's eastern border contains water, and the North Atlantic contains water. QED. Hungary, a landlocked country in the center of Europe, is about to be admitted to NATO. Well, the Danube River contains water too. In fact, Hungary's pre-war dictator, Admiral Horthy, presumably gained his rank in the Danube fleet. He could hope to become NATO's commander-in-chief, if he were alive today, and maybe he will anyhow.

Further examples of this tendency are easy to predict. Sweden could escape those dark winters and the Strindbergian gloom by simply announcing that it will henceforth be a Mediterranean country. The Irish can fulfill their dream to be as far from England as possible by describing themselves officially as an island in the Pacific Ocean, and offering to federate with Tahiti. Seattle will make unnecessary its pell-mell race to look and feel like New York City by simply announcing that it is the sixth borough, and has been all along. Other slighted backwaters, from Winnipeg to Newcastle, will claim to be adjuncts of Florence or Aix-en-Provence. The possibilities are endless.

These musings bring up the story, circulating in Sarajevo a few years ago, of the first (and last) Yugoslav expedition to the moon. The spaceship was manufactured by Yugo, and few expected it even to lift off. However, powered by secret ingredients, the engine actually started and did not stall until it had carried the expedition safely to the moon.

The crew, consisting of one Bosnian Moslem from Sarajevo, one Croat, and two Serbs, donned space-suits and left their craft to examine the lunar surface. The Bosnian, seeing the shell-hole like craters all around, observed: "You know, this looks just like the road into Sarajevo. Maybe this is Bosnian territory." "I don't think so," rejoined the Croat, pointing to the distant mountains of the moon. "Those mountains look like the Dalmatian hills near Dubrovnik. So maybe this is Croat territory." Whereupon one of the Serbs drew a pistol and shot the other Serb in the head. "A Serb has died here," he intoned, "so this is Serb land."

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