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Yugoslavia: New War, Old Hatreds Author(s): Dusko Doder Source: Foreign Policy, No. 91 (Summer, 1993), pp. 3-23 Published by: Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC Stable URL: Accessed: 12/01/2010 11:50

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byDuskoDoder The collapse of the Cold War was a joyful the people of the East, it meant economic To and politicalpluralism. those in prosperity Yet the West, it broughtreliefand satisfaction. clearthat the formercomit was immediately munist countries'transitionto marketeconwouldbe long and painomies and democracy was ful. What was not immediately apparent the unravelingof the geopolitical solutions That was imposedby the Treatyof Versailles. a slow meltdownof European accompanied by and institutionsand securityarrangements, an almost total lack of ideas for dealingwith the rise of ethnic hatredsthroughoutthe former communistworld. Yugoslavia's implosionnot those negativetrendsbut also only highlights to servesas a catalyst them. in had been an anomaly the Cold Yugoslavia a communistcountry within Moscow's War, reach but beyond its grasp.For most Ameriand cans, it was a place of quarreling obscure ethnicgroupswho wereweldedtogetherby the great communist heretic MarshalJosip Broz Tito. Americansadmiredthe Tito image: a rebelwho defiedthe GoliathStalin courageous and abandoned policies Soviet-style suffocating in favorof a kinder,gentlercommunism. The United States, wanting a strong Yugoslavia, pouredbillionsof dollarsinto Tito's treasury. After his death in 1980, Tito's strong hand was replaced a councilof blandethnicchiefby tains. Yugoslaviasimply vanished from the Americanconsciousness. The collapseof the

event on both sides of the political divide. To

DUSKO DODER, former Eastern Europeand Moscow

bureauchieffor the WashingtonPost, is authorof Shadowsand Whispers (1986) and The Yugoslavs with LouiseBransonof (1977), and is co-author Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin(1990).He has

beena freelancewriter coveringYugoslavia's disintegration since thefall of 1990.



Soviet empire eliminatedany remainingU.S. conAmerican strategicinterestin Yugoslavia. related over Yugoslavia'sdisintegration cern the mostlyto whatit mightportendfor Russia, andits nuclear Slaviccountry, othermultiethnic weapons.By the time warbrokeout, the Unithaned Stateshad willinglylet the Europeans dle the problem. Hence Yugoslavia becamethe firstmajortest of the European (EC)multilateral Community's Not foreignpolicy.Its failurewasconspicuous. been unableto stop a only have the Europeans civil war on their doorstep,but some of their contradictoryresponses have aggravatedit. From the beginning, the absence of policy withinthe EC. Germany poisonedrelationships led the diplomaticcharge in enthusiastically support of secessionist republics. However, Greece, which had a vested interestin mainSerbia continuesto support tainingYugoslavia, EC positionsand United despite agreedupon Nations sanctions. to The disarray contributed new instabilhas in the Balkans adjacent areas.The cliand ity mate of uncertaintyhas pushed neighboring countries to seek new securityarrangements and to reorienttheir foreignand defensepolidirections. cies in morenationalistic Greece,for has closed its airspaceto NATOally example, Hungary,Romania, Turkey.Albania,Bulgaria, in about andTurkeyareall involved discussions seven bordered the war.The formerYugoslavia countriesand-with the exceptionof the Roare border-all of its frontiers manian-Yugoslav challenged,eitherovertlyor subtly. Even before the Yugoslavcivil war spread beyond Slovenia and Croatia to the central the republicof Bosnia-Herzegovina, Europeans had conceded defeat and requestedAmerican leadership.President George Bush, facing a tough reelectioncampaignand fearingentanglement, refused to offer more than strong diplomatic action. Harsh U.N. sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, which constituted the new Yugoslavia, were followed by rhetorical blandishments from Washington. But the main work was left to U.N. envoy Cyrus Vance and EC representative David Owen. Now the new Clinton administration has taken steps that gradually drag the United 4.


to States into the Balkanconflict.Responding President Bill Clinton has public pressures, authorizedthe use of U.S. militaryplanesfor to He Muslims. food airdrops besiegedBosnian the use of U.S. forcesto "enhas also pledged once force" peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina it is partiesthere.In acceptedby the three warring April 1993, U.S. and other NATO warplanes began flying missionsover Bosniato enforcea U.N.-declared"no-flyzone." The real question is whether the United in Statesshouldbe engagedmilitarily the Balkans without a clear and practicable political blueprint.Such a blueprintdoes not exist at rushinto Bosniacould this time. An impulsive easily make the administration hostage to an intractable Clinproblem,and even undermine ton's presidency.In a continent hauntedby and politicalfragmentaresurgentnationalism of tion, the unhappy territory Bosniais uniquetreacherous Yet withouta settlement ly ground. on Bosnia,there can be no resolutionof the two dispute between the formerYugoslavia's the Serbsand Croats.Whoever largestnations, controlsBosniacontrolsthe westernpartof the Balkan And although mayargue one peninsula. the United Stateshas no directstrategic interest in the former Yugoslavia, does have a it vital interestin the stability Europe. of of History Hatred The lands of the Yugoslavs have long been hauntedby conflict.Ever since EmperorConstantinedecidedto split the RomanEmpirein the fourthcenturyA.D., the tectonicplatesof imperial, religious, and racial interests have ground together in the Balkans.Rome and Constantinople,Catholicismand Orthodoxy, Christianityand Islam, Germans and Slavs, Russiaand the West-all haveclashedalong a shiftingfaultline runningdown the middleof the former Yugoslavia(or, more precisely, through the territory of today's BosniaHerzegovina). In more recent history,instabilityand violence in Bosnialed the European GreatPowers to expel the Turks and place the provinceunder the administration the Hapsburgs. of But that decisionof the 1878 BerlinCongresswas undone by the Hapsburgsthemselves,who 5".










Serbiaand Montenegro havejoined togetherto forma state knownas the FederalRepublic of whichtheyG Yugoslavia, say is the successor to the SocialistFederal/ of SRepublic Yugoslavia. TheUnitedStates does


notrecognize state. that

The Former Yugoslavia



annexedBosnia 30 years later. Hapsburgrule provokeda new cycle of unrest and violence in that culminatedin the 1914 assassination of the heir to the Hapsburgthrone. Sarajevo With ArchdukeFerdinand's death, all of Eufound itself marchinginto the rope quickly FirstWorld War. in The conceptbehindYugoslavia originated It literallymeans thinking. nineteenth-century the "landof the South Slavs,"who wantedto have a state of their own. Such a state could not be realized until the various Yugoslavs united againsttheir oppressors-the Austrians, and Hungarians, OttomanTurks.By the early became twentiethcentury,the wordYugoslavia a rallyingcry. With the end of WorldWar I, the Treatyof Versaillestore the South Slavlandsawayfrom commuThe international those dyingempires. were tribesof nity assumedthat the Yugoslavs a single people and, if united,would forge a common national existence. Enchanted by nationalists of dreams Slavicharmony, Yugoslav ignoredthe historicaland religiousdifferences from a comamongthem.Though originating the mon Slavic background, Yugoslavsspoke different dialectsor languages,used different scripts,and had neverlivedin a commonstate before 1918. Their history had been one of The and suffering humiliation. Croatslost their state in 1102, the Serbs theirs in the mid-fifteenth century.The northwestern of Yupart goslavia had been under the dominationof and Austria-Hungary Venice;the southeastern half was ruledby OttomanTurkey. Despite shared suffering,the region's core groupshavebeen dividedalongmoreprofound lines. While the Slovenesand Croatsare Roman Catholic, the Serbs and Macedonians are Eastern Orthodox. Most Roman Catholic Yugoslavs lived under the rule of Austria-Hungary or Venice, which belonged to the world of European civilization. In contrast, most Orthodox Yugoslavs became subjects of the conquering Ottomans. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Serbs rebelled against the Turks and won first political autonomy, and then their independence. Their success inspired 7.


in the suppressed Slavicpeasantry Bosniaand harsh Croatia.In Croatiaitself,an increasingly rule sowed politicaldivision.One Hungarian advocated crethe side, led by Ante Star'evid, ation of a GreaterCroatia-from the Alps to Bulgaria;the racist ideology of that radical movement has plagued Croat politics ever since. The Yugoslav idea, meanwhile, was championedby Roman CatholicbishopJosip who was imbuedwith treJuraj Strossmayer, mendous ecumenicalspirit. With Star'evid's death, his Party of Right declinedand a new generation of Croat intellectuals embraced concept. Forming a CroatianStrossmayer's Serbian coalitionin 1905,they easilytriumphed

in the firstelections the locallegislature. for The Croats to warmed the ideaof unionwith otherYugoslavs-meaning the primarily Kingdomof Serbia-forseveral but reasons, chiefly becausealone they were powerless wrest to fromAustria-Hungary. independence Nobel Prize-winning novelistIvo Andrik on to usedhis 1945novelTheBridge theDrina the of describe promise a new national state with Serbiaplaying pivotal the role. unifying The yearis 1913.Bosnia seething rebelis with lion.Onecharacter, TomaGalus, whose father is a Croatandmotheris a Serb,talksto his friendFehimBahtijarevi6, of a descendant the Muslim Fehim's beyswhousedto ruleBosnia. silence incites Toma. "You'll see,"Tomasayspassionately. Weshall a create state which make most will the

to of preciouscontribution the progress humanity, in whicheveryeffortwill be blessed, everysacrifice in holy, everythoughtoriginaland expressed his of our name....We will build...astate, born in freedom and foundedon justice,like a part of God's thoughtrealized here on earth.

ownwords, every marked thestamp deed and with

very weight of its existenceresolutelyrejected all that the other had said, and expressed its dumb, clear and unalterableopinion." The microcosmof Bosniais completedby two Serb youths in the same scene whose talk about revolutionquicklydeteriorates into a personal quarrel. It is significant that leadingpoliticians the in 8.

Fehimremains His stands "like quiet. silence animpassable in thedarkness wall which the by


Kingdom of Serbia were apatheticabout or rejected the Yugoslavidea. The most senior among them, Nikola Paid, was stronglyopposed.Havingfoughton the sideof the victorious alliesin World War I, Paid felt thatSerbia could achieve its strategicobjectiveswithout with RomanCatholic enteringinto a marriage Croats and Slovenes. Serbia's goal was to expand its territory to the west and north, incorporatingareas in Bosnia, Croatia, and Vojvodinathat were home to nearlyas many Serbs as lived in the Serb kingdom. Serbs becauseit resentedthe veryname"Yugoslavia" in the new state. Serbia's obscured preeminence the The Serbian royalfamilyfavored new state, however,and it prevailed. TheTrouble Begins The first Yugoslavia,under the rule of Serbia's royal dynasty,was a problem child from the start.The crux of the problemwas the relationship betweenthe two largestethnic groups-the Serbs and Croats. The Bosnian and Muslims,Macedonians, Sloveneswere too smallin numbers too weakpolitically do and to morethanshiftalliances maneuver and between the two dominant groups. In fact, until its was collapsein 1991, Yugoslavia in essencethe union of its two largestnationalities. unhappy The Serbs looked upon the new countryas an extensionof their formerterritory, fruit the of their struggles in two Balkan wars and World War I. Roughlyone third of Serbia's total population perished in those conflicts. countCamillo Cavour,King Inspired Italian by Alexander a unitary nation-state solution sought to a multinational problem.But Serbiawas not the Piedmont,and the historicaland religious differencesconfrontinghim were staggering to compared those of Cavour's Italy.

At the December 1, 1918, unification ceremonies, Alexander declared that the three Yugoslav peoples in his new kingdom were one nation under three tribal names. The Croat representatives did not object to that formulation. Only one prominent Croat politician, Stjepan Radik, refused to travel to Belgrade, declaring that his colleagues were acting like "drunken geese in a fog." Within months the Croats began to feel 9.


overlords, they betrayed.Insteadof Hungarian had a Serbianking, his army,police, administration,and the OrthodoxChurch.For a Roof man Catholicpeople on the periphery civilized Europe, that signifiedsubmissionto an inferior, Oriental culture. Yugoslav politics quickly degeneratedinto tribalism.Political partiesformed aroundethnic blocs. In Parliawere and ment, Radid two otherCroatdeputies assassinated a Serbdeputyin 1928.Sixyears by later, Croat nationalists organized the asof sassination King Alexander duringa visit to France. Croat politicians discussedplans to with foreignleadersmuch breakup Yugoslavia as they did in seekingsupportfrom Germany andItalyin 1990-91. PrincePaul,the regentof Yugoslavia,also flirted politicallywith Hitler and in 1941 joinedthe Tripartite Pact,only to be deposedtwo days later in a militarycoup. leadingto Germanythen attacked Yugoslavia, its dismemberment. What followed can only be describedas a savage religious and tribalwar similarto the one being fought now. Hitler createdan independent Croatianstate and placedat its head Ante Pavelik,leader of the Croatianfascists knownas the Ustashi.Thoughmost established Croat politiciansrefused to join Pavelid,the of reemergence CroatiaduringWorld War II was a tragicevent:Its leadersperpetrated genocide againstSerbs, Jews,andGypsiesin Krajina and Bosnia. known as Chetniks,retaliSerb nationalists, of ated in kind. They carriedout massacres Bosnian mostof Croatsandespecially Muslims, with the Croats. whom alliedthemselves Acting in the name of preservingtheir nations and faiths,Serbs and Croatsconducteda holy war each other.Lowerclergy tryingto exterminate on both sides sanctionedtheir crimes. The use widespread of the knife as the instrument

of death revealed the depth of their tribal hatreds. The Yugoslav idea seemed dead. In fact, President Franklin Roosevelt entertained the idea of dismembering Yugoslaviaafter the war's conclusion-but found Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin unreceptive. But in 1945 the Yugoslav idea was reinvented and reinvigorated by the dictator Tito. A 10.


communistsince 1917, Tito securedpower in the fashion establishedin Serbiain the early nineteenth century-by leading a guerrilla uprising, this time against the Germans. Emergingvictoriousfrom World War II, he and unity" of the proclaimedthe "fraternity Lenin'sformulain the South Slavs.Following of USSR,he contriveda federation six national It wasa purelyLeninistarrangement. republics. The republicswere given fictionalsovereignty fully complementedby culturaland political institutions; in return, they ceded political power to Tito and his party.Tito, a Croat, believed that balance was crucial to keep together. Yugoslavia However, Tito's scheme went beyond balance, and that formsthe core of Serbgrievances today. Given Serbiandominationin AlexTito soughtto weakenthe ander'sYugoslavia, In Serbs by dividingthem internally. addition to the three constituentnationsof Alexander's Yugoslavia-Serbs,Croats,andSlovenes-Tito turned prewar"SouthernSerbia"into the republic of Macedonia,made the tiny former Serb kingdomof Montenegroa nation in its own right,and createdtwo federalunitswithin Serbia itself-the "autonomousregions" of Kosovo, with its sizableAlbanianpopulation, Roand Vojvodina,where many Hungarians, andotherminormanians, Ruthenians, Slovaks, ities lived.' The largest obstacle to Tito's plan lay bewherea mixedpoputween Serbiaand Croatia, lation lived. That region, Bosnia, was the and both crucialproblemof Yugoslavia, literally Conscious that both Croatia metaphorically. claimto Bosnia,Tito and Serbialaid historical declaredeven during the war that its future would be "neither Serbiannor Croatiannor Muslim but rather Serbianand Croatianand Muslim." As his Yugoslaviawas to be a socialiststate,Bosniawouldbe its multinational most genuineportion.The cradleof a revived

'Creating new political nations was often accompaa nied byfrenetic workto develop culturalinfrastructure. In the case of the Macedonians, example, a wellfor knownHarvard Slavicist,HoraceLandt,was brought in to createa grammarfor the Macedonian language.



in idea,it wouldbecomea republic its Yugoslav own right. virtuThe importof those maneuvers passed unnoticed at the time. Nationalismwas ally to relegatedto history,according the simplistic future envisagedby Tito's totalitarian regime -maintained by raw power and propaganda. obHowever, some in the artisticcommunity to Tito's rejectionof nationalistconjected cerns. Novelist Andridhad seriousdoubtsand came close to saying that the whole multinational enterprisewas impossible.Born in could only be maintained violence, Yugoslavia by force and by stymieing its democratic development. In a continent haunted by resurgent nationalism and political fragmentation, the unhappy territory of Bosnia is uniquely treacherous ground. On paper,thingslookedbetterthanin reality. Officially,the republicswere not national naterritories-and, therefore,not embryonic tion-states-but rather federal unitsin whichall ethnic groupsenjoyedequalrights.Yugoslavia, in Tito's mind,was to becomeone nation.His partyformallyadoptedthe conceptof a single nationin 1958,or justaboutthe time Yugoslav when Tito beganto abandon Sovisuffocating et-stylepoliciesat home and openedup Yugoslaviato the outsideworld. Few peopleseriously considered constitutional changesin the 1960s as Tito abandoned the unitaristapproachand moved towardthe noin tion of a Yugoslav commonwealth whichall ethnic groups were given home rule and the right to full nationaland culturalaffirmation. Tito Seekingto reinforcethe Bosnianbalance, in 1964 createdyet anothernation-the BosnianMuslims. The firstsignsof liberalization to a rev?led al of Croat nationalism. The fact that Croats sharedthe samelanguage with the Serbswas a source of great frustration.In 1967, Croat intellectuals advanced LanguageDeclaration, a endorsed by leading figures and institutions, demandingfull constitutional recognitionfor four-instead of three-Yugoslav languages: 12.


was Croatian to join Serbian, Slovene,andMainitiated cedonian.The LanguageDeclaration a mass Croat nationalistmovementembraced spite, and national by those voicingseparatism, of The appearance the symbolsof exclusivity. the Ustashi,the Croatfascistmovement, frightened the Serbsand revivedmemoriesof 1941. the Tito suppressed Croat movementin 1972, but not before the Serbs in Croatia began arming themselves. Driving through Serbin areasof Croatia 1974,I foundthat populated the envenomed shrillnessof both sides had "I hardened: can tell you, we'llneverbe already a KordunSerbtold me. "Tosurprised again," day there is at least an axe behindeverydoor." markedthe The 1974 Yugoslavconstitution It climaxof Tito's decentralization. proclaimed "a of the Yugoslavfederation statecommunity united nations and their Socialist voluntarily Republics"and accordedsovereignrights to in "nationsand nationalities" their respective Yet few people,even and autonomous regions. in Yugoslavia, paid attentionto that lengthy, complicateddocument.Tito certainlydid not. With unlimited power, he was the ultimate affairs the latestconstiand arbiterof Yugoslav to tutionseemedlikeanothertechnique balance domesticpoliticsby ensuringa parityof rights as well as grievances. For the BosnianMuslims,the new constitution openedthe prospects a futureembryonof ic nation-state. Their recognitionas Yugoslavia's sixthnation 10 yearsearliermeantthatthe of had republic Bosnia-Herzegovina a nationof its own, just like Croatia,Macedonia,MonThe 1974constitenegro,Serbia,andSlovenia. tution becamethe departure pointfor the Bosnian Muslim nationalassertiveness in the that an adverse reaction post-Tito periodprovoked amongthe BosnianSerbs.Their loss of ethnic

domination coupled with political liberalization marked a decline in the Serbs' share of political and economic power in Bosnia-Herzegovina. By 1990, Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovid was voicing his concern for "all three million Muslims" living in Yugoslavia. His reference to 3 million Muslims was telling. That figure excluded the more than 2 million Muslims who are ethnicallyAlbanianand live in the Kosovo area of Serbia. "Perhapsyou from 13.


this Europecannotunderstand becausefor you Muslimsaredefinedby theirfaithwhereas here are in the first place a nationalgroup," they said Izetbegovid. AfterTito Tito's formulafor unity could not survive It withouthis personaand total authority. was monthsafterhis deathin 1980 beforethe only The glue federation Yugoslav beganto unravel. that held the federationtogether was gone. While the communistsstill held the leversof power, their YugoslavLeagueof Communists turned into a debatingclub. The reformsof Mikhail Gorbachev accelerated the disThe end of integrationprocessin Yugoslavia. the Cold War completedit. The collapseof ideology threatenedto deprive the establishmentof legitimacy.The threat was amplified democracy, which beby came the primarygoal acrossEasternEurope. Regional Yugoslavleaders began to look to nationalismas a new source of legitimacyto theirpowerbases.Nationalism maintain gained as strengthnaturally the republicshad to deThe crisisof the early fend theirown interests. 1990s resembled disintegration Yugoslathe of via in the early 1940s. Most of those outside constitutional Serbiabeganto advocate changes, that the federalsystemcreatedby Tito saying no longer functionedadequately. Sloveniaand Croatia gingerly advocatedgreaterautonomy and floated a proposalfor the creationof a confederatestate. The Serbsviewedthe move suspiciously,as another twist in the longrunning conspiracyagainst them purportedly masterminded the CroatTito and his first by the Serbian lieutenant, SloveneEdward Kardelj. communist Miloevi' rode Slobodan strongman to power in 1988 on the crest of a powerful nationalist wave.In fact,nationalist were parties

swept into power in all republics in the first free post-Cold War elections in 1990. Supranational parties were sent into political oblivion. The results in Bosnia were, in retrospect, the most ominous. Of the three parties in Bosnia -Muslim, Serb, and Croat-the last two marched to tunes composed in Belgrade and Zagreb respectively.

Miloevid's coalitionwas an especially curious



in one. It consistedof formerapparatchiks the and police who administration, party, army, sought to protecttheirpositionsand embraced nationalism the new religion.More imporas of tant, however,was the crucialparticipation Serb nationalists-many anticommunist-who saw Serbia threatened by the prospective of That nationalist disintegration the federation. was articulated a 1986 memorin perspective andum by the SerbianAcademyof Arts and of Sciences;it condemnedthe partition Serbia the 1974 constitution. The declaration by denounced Tito's regimeas dominated antiby Serb Croat and Slovene politicians who condoned"Serbophobia," it urgedSerbsto and pursuetheir nationalinterests. still suppliesthe Today the memorandum basis for Serbia'sself-image--awoundedselfand with righteousness obsessive preoccupation the past.The senseof justgrievance so wideis a spreadand so deeplyrooted that it provided politicalforce of its own when manipulated by such a Byzantinepoliticianas Milo'evi'. Serb resentments set the stage for Milosevic's in maneuvers 1989 to revokethe autonomyof Serbia's two special regions-Vojvodina and Kosovo.The senseof victimization partialalso the absence strongpublicreaction of ly explains to outragescommittedby Serb forcesfighting in Croatiaand Bosnia. The Serbs are profoundlyconvinced that they are more sinned against than sinning. Serbs talk about their nation'ssuffering under Turkish rule and sacrificesin the two world wars as thoughthey themselves takenpart had in the 1389 battle of Kosovo, or personally in fought againstthe Austrians 1914 and the Germansin 1941.They do not see the logic of the proposition if Serbiademands that minority rights for Serbs in Croatia, then Serbia is obligatedto grant those same rights to Albanians in Kosovo. They only see enemieshating Serbs,plottingagainstthem, maligning them in the press,and killingtheirchildren.It is not important whetherthat judgmentis real or not. What is importantis that the Serbs believeit. passionately The geniusof Miloevki is his abilityto mold a medieval mythof Serbidentityto his political purposes today. For centuries the myth of 15.


Kosovo has been the bannerof Serb national for prideanda justification the Serbs'miserable condition.The Kosovomyth is the touchstone of the Serb nationalcharacter-its disdainfor compromise,its messianicbent, and its firm belief in the meaninglessness loss and the of of restoration Serbgloryandmight. of promise in Handeddownthroughthe generations the form of popular ballads, the Kosovo myth centers on the choice facingPrinceLazarbefore the 1389 battlewith the OttomanSultan Muradin the "Fieldof Blackbirds." the eve On of battle,the Mother of God appears Lazar to and offers him the choice of a heavenlyor earthlyempire.If he wantsthe first,he should himselfandhis armyfor destruction. If prepare he wants the second, he should defeat the Turks. The epic tells how Lazarweighs the options: Whatis the empire mychoice? of

Is it the empireof heaven? Is it the empireof earth? Kind God, what shall I do, how shall I do it?

Andif I shallchoose empire, the Andchoose empire the earth, the of The empire earth fleeting, of is Above empire earth. the of

Heavenis lastingand everlasting. And the Emperor chose the empireof heaven

The Serbslost. LazarandMuradboth died on the field.The Serbian statewasdestroyed some 60 years later, but the Kosovo battle came to be seen as the cataclysmic event that led Serbs into captivity. It is a tragedy that Serbs in Serbia and are throughoutthe formerYugoslavia obsessed with the myth, which calls on them to avenge the injusticeof Kosovo and teachesthem that no sacrificeis too great for the ultimategood causeof the Serbs.Milo'evidbecamethe most popularpostwarleaderof Serbiawhen, on the of 600th anniversary the battle,he went to the

Field of Blackbirdsand promised half a million people that "nobody will beat you again." He also said that the Serbs "throughout their history never conquered or exploited anybody else." However medievally morbid, there can be no understanding of the Serbs without fathoming those sentiments. And unless the West understands the Serbs and their interests, there can 16.


be no lasting peace on the territoryof the formerYugoslavia. Greater Serbia The Serbs have a strong argument. One of their historical was of objectives the unification Serb lands. But apart from Serbia and Montenegro, they also live in Bosnia and Croatia.(They accountedfor 32 per cent of Bosnia'spopulation beforethe current and war for 12-14 per cent of Croatia's.) the Slovenes If and Croatshadthe rightto secede,the Serbsin Bosnia and Croatiahad an equallyjustifiable right to remainin Yugoslavia. showedno However,the Serbian government interest in a confederateYugoslavia-an idea advancedin the late 1980s-nor in the protracted diplomacyby which it could achieve that objective.Serbiahas neverstatedthat the creationof a GreaterSerbiawasits aim,but its proxieshad no doubtaboutit. That aim ineviconflictwiththeirformer tablymeanta military which the Serbs, as the largest compatriots, Yugoslav nation, assumed they would win. They wouldrelyon the formerYugoslav army, dominatedby Serbofficers. The exactbordersof a GreaterSerbian state remainvague.Slovenia, with few Serbs,was of no interestto Miloevid. He publicly blessedits independence several months before it occurred.The briefand comicwarin Slovenia in June 1991 was the last gasp of the federation and its army. But the situationsin Bosnia, Croatia,and Macedoniahave been fundamentally different. Deprivedof Soviet backingafterthe USSR's collapse, Miloevid made some disastrous Insteadof courting diplomaticmiscalculations. American Miloevi' snubbed visiting politicians, them. He refusedto meet with seven visiting U.S. senators,led by Bob Dole (R-Kansas), in the summerof 1990.Instead making case of his

to foreign journalists, his government imposed local taxes on them. Rather than leveling with Serbia's traditional foreign allies, his aides involved them in a labyrinth of deception. Instead of calming Serb populations in Bosnia and the Krajina region of Croatia, Serbian politicians incited them to rebellion with rumors that Croats and Muslims were plotting 17.


new massacres againstthem. By the time the war in Croatiabeganin June 1991,Milosevic's in popularity the West was lower than that of Saddam Hussein. Miloevik was in a Iraq's vacuum. diplomatic war The Croatian wasclearlya warof Serbian conquest,even though Serbiafought it by forces and remnants proxy, using paramilitary of the Yugoslav People'sArmy.Butit is equally clearthat the Croatsand their European allies the current inflamedthe situation, encouraging impasse.Althoughthey professedto be advothe arrangement, Croatsin cating a confederal to In fact were determined destroyYugoslavia. in the courseof the firstfree electioncampaign the rhetoricof the victorious Croatia, president Tudjmanandhis supporters conjured up Franjo images of a fascistspiritstalkingthat land, at least in the eyes of Serbs in Croatia.Once MemSerbsbecamealarmed. againthe Krajina ories of Serb massacres perpetrated Croat by fascistsin 1941 were fueledby venomousproMeanwhile, Tudjman, pagandafrom Belgrade. a former general in Tito's army, refused to disown the fascist Croatia as a travestyand insteadrevivedits symbolsin a blazeof glory. Serbminority, Ratherthanreassuring Croatia's he amendedthe constitution deny Serbsany to kind of politicalautonomy. They were purged from from the policeforce,gunswereretrieved in and arsenals Krajina, signswithCyrillic army withLatin-lettered Serbian wordswerereplaced Croatiansigns. The outcomewas terriblypredictable. With radicalism radicalism both sides, on begetting the Krajina Serbsvoted to proclaim autonomy, then put forward their maximalistdemand: union with Serbia.There were no brakesto halt the descentinto war.Bothsidesengagedin "ethnic cleansing."Serbs were expelledfrom

western Slavonia, Dalmatia, and other areas where the Croats enjoyed military superiority. The Croats were expelled from much of Krajina and eastern Slavonia, which was seized by the Serbs with the help of the Yugoslav army. Both sides engaged in acts of cruelty against civilians; incomplete evidence suggests the Serbs excelled at brutality, especially in Krajinaand eastern Slavonia.Imbued with their messianic spirit and self-righteousness, the 18.


Serbssaw no need to presenttheircase to worldopinion.Later,afterreports ethnic of in and massacres Bosnia, Serbs the cleansing wereno longerin a position present to their case:Nobody to wanted listen. in in The fighting Croatia halted March was 1992afterthe deployment U.N. peacekeepof ing forcesundera plan negotiated U.N. by Vance. theEC,spurred by But on envoyCyrus had sealed stalemate the Germany, already by in to extending recognition Croatia January withoutsecuring for adequate guarantees the of the rights the Serbminority. Despite ceasefire accord's for refugeesto returnto their call

homes,fewhavebeenableto do so.

The Serbs are profoundly convinced that they are more sinned against than

Whilethe Vanceplanfor Croatia remained world attention shifted theincento unfulfilled, of Because conflicting of question Bosnia. diary in ambitions Bosnia,no overallSerb-Croat is before resolution a peacesettlement possible of the Bosnian question. Twice in 1991 beforethe outbreak the of had war, Tudjman triedto cut a deal with Milo'evid partition to Bosniabetween Serbia andCroatia. aides showed Tudjman's proposed In the mapsto journalists. aneffortto stabilize Bosnian situation prevent partition, and its the U.N. decidedto locateits Protection Force in of headquartersthe Bosnian capital Sarajevo. For the samereasons, UnitedStatesand the the EC recognized as Bosnia-Herzegovinaa newcountry April1992. in But if the multinational federation Yugoslav was no longerviable,why sanction indethe the pendenceof Bosnia-Herzegovina, very microcosm Yugoslavia's of and problems weakIn nesses? retrospect, only in retrospect, and the recognition a dreadful was mistake. the At Western convinctime,senior diplomats argued would a war inglythattheaction prevent wider andwasin linewiththeU.S.policy refusing of to accept border Yet changes wrought force. by therewas(andis) no viableplanto keeptogetherthe threehostilecommunities engaged 19.


in a war that has so far claimedan estimated more than 120,000-200,000lives and displaced a millionpeople. There are two clear choices:the divisionof BosniabetweenSerbiaand Croatiaor the imThe on positionof a U.N. protectorate Bosnia. firstwouldease the fightingandbringa certain measure of peace, but it would reward aggressionand eventuallyobliteratea distinct BosnianMuslimidentity.The secondcourseis it costly, dangerous,uncertain; would require decadesof militaryand politicalpresence. The first option is out of the questionbecause it would amount to condoning ethnic cleansing and forcible changes of recognized borders,which the United Statesand its allies have said they wouldnot do. By acceptingthe divisionof Bosnia,the international community would be punishingthe Muslims,who are the Muslimswould victims.Bosnian war'sprincipal of the Palestinians Europe-a stateless, become angry people. The only way to avoid that would be to give the Muslimstheir own state in Central Bosnia, something the Muslim leadershave so far refusedto consider. wouldbecome A U.N. protectorate, however, because the of difficult an excruciatingly project area'sreligious,ethnic,and other complexities. Yet no alternativesare apparent.The plan negotiatedby Vance and EC envoy Owen to divideBosniainto 10 semi-autonomous regions, in fact, also proposesa vague form of U.N. of supervision Bosniaonce peaceis established. The vaguenesscreatesthe Vance-Owenplan's short-termstrength,as well as its long-term weakness.It offers the prospectof an uneasy peace and a breathingspace for considering politicalsolutions.It does not offer a workable politicalsolutionof its own. The vagueness, however, was inherent in

to required squarethe vicious compromises

Bosnian circle. The plan correctlyrecognizes in that a multiethniccoexistence Bosniais not at least in the coming decades,and possible, wouldonly be able that the three communities But to interactwhile living separately. it does of not satisfythe vital interests Serbsin general or the Bosnian Serbs in particular:Its prescribedgeographicdivision excludeslinks between large Serb communitiesin western



Bosnia and Croatia and the Serb lands in northeasternBosnia and adjacentSerbia.Regardlessof the meritsof the Bosnianconstituthat is tionalarrangements, landcorridor essenSerbs tial as long as the status of Krajina's U.N. corridor The narrow remainsunresolved. proposed in late April by Owen was to unacceptable the Serbsbecausethey would a not controlit. Evenif the Serbsweregranted corridorof their own under the Vance-Owen plan, the past recordin creatingsuch links is not a promising one. A punitive military venture,as demanded some in the West, is by Without hardlya way to peacein the Balkans. a clear politicalblueprint,the deploymentof Americansoldierswould be simply foolish, a for preludeto U.S. involvement, justifications which would haveto be manufactured later. is Althoughthe formerYugoslavia primarily the United Statesshouldfill Europe'sproblem, the leadershipvacuum with new diplomatic, political, and economic ideas. The situation calls for a determinedand imaginativeapBosniacould be created proach.In particular, as a new buffer state on the basis of Tito's 1943 proclamation that it is "neitherSerbian nor Croatiannor Muslim but ratherSerbian and CroatianandMuslim." The Vance-Owenplan shouldstill form the basis for a more comprehensivepolitical settlement.Those who claim that it is a dead letteroffer no alternative exceptquickfixeslike air strikes to soften up Bosnian Serbs and punishthem for theirrecentterritorial gainsin easternBosnia.A massiveshow of forcemight reduceSerbmilitary but superiority wouldalso the Bosnian agony and make the prolong search for a lasting political settlementeven more difficult. However imperfect, VanceOwen's basic concepts point the way to an eventualsettlement.

But it would be a grand folly to believe Vance-Owen's implementation would bring lasting peace and end the vicious cycle of retribution. Stringent U.N. sanctions against Serbia and the threat of U.S. military intervention prompted Miloievid to change his policy almost overnight and to order his Bosnian Serb proxies to sign the Vance-Owen plan in early May 1993. His dramatic betrayal 21.


of the Bosnian Serbs must have prompteda the and good deal of soul-searching weakened bonds between the BosnianSerbs and Serbia; to that could lead BosnianSerbmoderates seek a new futurein a unified Bosnianstate based on a confederalprinciple.If the Serbs and Muslims develop a vested interest in such a state, the Croats, who make up only 17 per wouldfollow.As a first cent of the population, Srbska and the Serbs'self-styled Republic step, the Croats' Herzeg-Bosna both must be dismantled. Bosnia's new provinces should be placed with underdirectU.N. administration, perhaps someone such as Owen as governor. The of governorwould also be commander-in-chief the U.N. force. All Bosnian militaryforces, except for local police, would have to be disarmed.All currentBosnianpoliticalleadersKaradMuslimAlijaIzetbegovid, SerbRadovan zic, and Croat Mate Boban-and their entourages would have to be barredfrom public office for a substantial period. New leaders electionsto be could then emergein provincial held within 12 monthsof a generalcease-fire. All militaryor civilian officialsfrom Croatia and Serbiawho are operatingin Bosniawould be expelled, along with individuals acting as proxies for the two sides. Refugeesmust be allowed to return to their homes. The plan should also be modifiedto grant a territorial link in northern Bosnia to the Serb communities. Another corridor would run along the AdriaticCoast to Croatia.A truly independentBosniawithin its 1945 bordersis not acceptable to Croatia because Bosnia's access to the Adriaticcuts Croatia'sterritory into two. Given time and infusionof money,the effort to create a Swiss-typeconfederationshould have a greaterchanceof successthana military

protectorate. Countries now contemplating the expense of military invasion would do better by helping rebuild Bosnia. Europe's interest in removing a cancerous war from its neighborhood is obvious, but so are the interests of the Islamic countries and the United States. With foreign financial and technical assistance,Bosnia could eventually become an economically viable unit in which three separatecommunities share 22.


a common market in goods and labor and porous borders without restrictions on movementand residence. It is clear that the concept and the muscle must come from the outside. U.N. sanctions againstSerbiaareworkingandshouldcontinue; the internationalcommunity should impose similarsanctionson Croatiaif it continuesits subversionin Bosnia.Above all, the futureof must not be decided by Bosnia-Herzegovina sinceboth Serbiaand Croatia(or theirproxies) at the expenseof the harborterritorial designs Muslims.The decisionsmust be made by the BosnianSerbs,Muslims,and Croats.That, of course, will require patience and time. The international community should create conditionsin which all three nationsin Bosnia take part in the creationof a new and better mustbe on healingthe country.The emphasis The Serbs should be given what the wounds. Chinese call a chu lu, a way out with a between modicumof dignity.Recentatrocities Croats and Muslims show that the Serbs are in not the sole perpetrators this war. War crimes will have to be dealt with by international tribunals-once peace is To established. starta healingprocess,amnesty who were should be extendedto combatants or not involvedin atrocities relatedcrimes. At this stage, it is crucial that the international communityact firmlybut on the basisof settlementconceptsthat are perceived as equitableto the people of all three comof munitiesin Bosnia.The demonization the Serbs will have to end, and the international community will have to recognize that the interests anyoneelse. like Serbshavelegitimate The Bosniansolutionmust be soughtin the to contextof a broader approach the challenge of many newly emerging small nation-states. Once the fighting stops, all formerYugoslav republicswill quicklydiscoverthat economic considerations dictatethe restoration severed of links.Those smallstatesmustbecomebuilding blocks for a new regional order. Today's formerYugoslavia could help pave fragmented the way to a more peaceful solution to Europe's most pressing problem: the fierce pride and mutual hatred of the Continent's many ethnic minorities. 23.


Yugoslavia: New War, Old Hatreds

22 pages

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