Metta Spencer

The Breakup of Yugoslavia

Chapter 7 of Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998)

Metta Spencer

If separatism is usually a misguided project, Yugoslavia's breakup is worse: it is a disaster that is still ongoing. And as in many other cases of partition that have led to war, the negative consequences may continue to unfold for generations yet to come.

Yugoslavia had been the most successful of all the socialist countries. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the Western tourists who vacationed in its Renaissance stone cities on the Dalmatian coast or its ski resorts returned home full of admiration for that country's novel attempt to combine egalitarian socialism with grassroots worker-management, some features of a market economy, and a modicum of liberty. Compared to other communist societies, it seemed pleasant, civilized, and almost prosperous.

Why, then, did it fail? This question deserves to be addressed. By identifying the mistakes that led to Yugoslavia's tragedy and learning its hard lessons, we may anticipate and perhaps even avert similar disasters elsewhere.

The Cultural Diversity of the Former Yugoslavia

"Yug" means "south" in Serbo-Croatian, the main language of the "South Slavs," the diverse but closely related cultural groups for whom Yugoslavia was named.[1] Throughout history the frontier between Western and Eastern civilizations had run through the region, originally dividing Western Christendom from Byzantium. Later, the Danube and Sava rivers had divided the Ottoman Empire from the Habsburg Empire. About half the Yugoslav population (especially the Serbs in the Ottoman region) had practiced Orthodox Christianity and had used the Cyrillic script, while about one-quarter (especially the Croats and Slovenes) had been Catholic and had used the Latin script.

When the Ottoman Turkish conquerors had come in the fifteenth century, they had imported Islam, which was adopted in Bosnia by a heretical Christian sect, the Bogomils. In the last years of Yugoslavia, this Muslim community constituted about one-fifth of the population; however, I shall designate them not in the usual way as Muslim (for in many cases they no longer practiced Islam), but as Bosniacs.

When the former Yugoslavia began to dissolve at the beginning of the 1990s, its population numbered some 23 million. Nationality was an inordinately salient factor in the structuring of social and political life. Officially, the country comprised five "nations" and -- unlike the case in the West -- the essential reality of "nationhood" was hardly ever questioned. In fact, the state was supposedly formed voluntarily by its "constituent nations" -- Serbs, Croats, Macedonians, Slovenes, and Montenegrins -- though this last group was disputed by some who claimed that Montenegrins are actually Serbs.

Three other communities -- the Albanians of Kosovo, the Hungarians of Vojvodina, and the Bosniacs -- claimed that they should be recognized as "constituent nations." The Albanians belong ethnically to the people of the adjacent state, Albania, but since the days of the Ottoman Empire there have been Albanian populations in Montenegro, Macedonia, and southern Serbia. The largest Albanian presence is in the Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo, where they form 90 percent of the population. Some of their leaders demanded that Kosovo become a republic, while others even wanted to secede from Yugoslavia and join Albania instead. The Bosniacs were recognized as a "nation" by a constitutional change in 1963, which designated them as "Muslim."[2] There were also smaller religious or ethnic communities, such as Jews, that were considered as minority groups.[3]

About 5 percent of the population declined to identify themselves as members of any particular nation, but rather called themselves simply "Yugoslavs." Others described themselves in the census as "undecided." In some cases an identification with the federal state instead of with a nation reflected a political commitment, while in others it simply meant that the person was a partner in, or the offspring of, a mixed marriage.

Yugoslavia in the World

Yugoslavia had been created at the end of World War I from the fragments of two old, disintegrating, multicultural empires: the Ottoman and the Habsburg (which had become the Austro-Hungarian) Empires. Initially called the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes," the new country was created by a merger of victors and vanquished in 1918, when the Serbian Prince Alexander, having been on the winning side of the war, agreed to unite his territory with the former Habsburg lands. It was not to be an easy matter. Many Croatians had long promoted Yugoslavism, the unification of all South Slavs, on the assumption that their city Zagreb would be the capital of such a state, for it was especially advanced culturally and economically. They were disappointed when a highly centralized state was formed with Belgrade as its capital.[4] The Habsburg institutions were all replaced by the Serbian bureaucracy and army, and the former Habsburg subjects were forced to transfer huge funds to Serbia.[5]

Three frameworks for integration would be attempted successively -- all with poor results. The first was a "Greater Serbia" model, the second involved the creation of a synthetic "Yugoslav" identity, and the last was intended to be a compromise between the dominant Serbs and the Croats, though this model had no time to succeed because of the approach of World War II.

Since no nationality held a majority of the parliament, government had to be by coalition, though this proved impossible. A political stalemate between Serbs and the former Habsburg subjects lasted until 1928, when five Croatian deputies were shot in parliament and King Alexander took control of the country as a dictator and renamed the country Yugoslavia.[6]

A movement in favor of creating an independent Croatia was led by Ante Pavelić, who founded the Ustasha-Croat Revolutionary Organization. This group, which was trained and funded by Mussolini, assassinated King Alexander in 1934. The murder had been intended to destroy Yugoslavia, but paradoxically it united public opinion against the perpetrators. Alexander was succeeded by his young son's regent, Prince Paul, who tried to reconcile Croats to Yugoslavia by setting up an autonomous province of Croatia within the country. The arrangement was never fully implemented and in any case would not have offered much relief to other nationalities, such as Hungarians, Albanians, Macedonians, and Bosniacs, whose status was even lower than that of Croats and who were also disenchanted.[7] In the 1920s the Albanians of Kosovo had carried out an unsuccessful guerrilla war against the federal Yugoslav state.

During the 1930s Prince Paul was forced by French and British appeasement policies to enter into agreements with Hitler, but he negotiated to keep German troops out of his country. Some outraged Yugoslav officers seized power and tried unsuccessfully to wrest more concessions from Germany. Instead, this prompted Hitler to invade Yugoslavia and ensure an open route for his troops and equipment on their way to his campaign in Greece. He divided Yugoslavia up and gave portions of it to Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Albania. Then he set up the Croatian Pavelić and his prewar terrorist force, the Ustasha, as a quisling regime to rule the remainder of the country, which included some of Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. These fascists intended to kill a third of the Serbs, expel another third, and convert the others to Catholicism.[8] They killed an estimated 85,000 people of all nationalities in a single death camp, Jasenovac.[9] Approximately 6.4 percent of Yugoslavia's population died during or immediately after World War II, with the highest percentage losses taking place in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.[10]

In 1941 two military leaders, Josip Broz Tito and DraÏa Mihailović, began separate campaigns against the German rulers of Serbia. Tito, a communist who was born in Croatia, found supporters among all Yugoslav peoples; Mihailović, a royalist, had only Serbian followers but claimed to be the leader of guerrilla fighters called Chetniks. In fact, he had little control over the Chetniks, who engaged in atrocities comparable to those of their enemies, the Ustashas. Mihailović had counted on British support, but Winston Churchill decided in 1943 to support Tito instead. For Yugoslavia, World War II actually consisted of several civil wars that had little to do with the larger war being fought elsewhere.[11] By the end, Mihailović chose to fight against Tito's partisans instead of against the Germans, who were not numerous in Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, thanks to the strength of his forces and his willingness to include terrorism among his tactics against his enemies, Tito won.

Immediately after the war, his partisans, who had increased to 700,000,[12] imposed retribution on their former enemies, including Mihailović, who was executed after a show trial. By January 1946 a communist constitution was approved for the country, which had six republics, plus two autonomous entities within Serbia -- Vojvodina and Kosovo. Borders between republics could be changed only with the consent of all sides. Each republic (but not Vojvodina or Kosovo) was given a right to self-determination and to secession, though this outcome was not expected, nor were any conditions for it specified.[13]

There is no reason to regard Yugoslav Communists or Tito himself in those first years as different from communists of the day in other countries. A new international organization, Cominform, was created to replace the Comintern and was based in Belgrade. Tito accepted Stalin's leadership without question and until 1948 had no plan to leave the international communist movement. It was Stalin who precipitated the break, forcing Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Cominform, evidently as a purge arising from Stalin's own paranoia.

Tito rose to the occasion, purging his own Communist party of potential dissenters and mobilizing against an expected invasion of Soviet forces. When no invasion took place, Tito found ways of manipulating both sides of the Cold War to his advantage. Western countries were delighted to see a split within the socialist camp, and the United States in particular was glad to fund the spunky Yugoslavs, who could provide a defensive bulwark against Soviet military access to the West. Billions of dollars of nonrepayable aid arrived over the years, in addition to loans, allowing the Yugoslavs to live far above the level of their own economic productivity. Deciding that Stalin had misunderstood Marx and Lenin, Tito planned for the state to "wither away" and be replaced by "workers' councils," which did not prove to be a particularly competitive economic system.

In foreign relations, Tito had mixed results in his effort to play each bloc against the other. Yugoslavia was not given Marshall Plan money or membership in the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, but did hold observer or associate status in both alliances after 1955. Tito turned instead to creating and leading a neutral bloc. He helped found the Nonaligned Movement and the Group of 77, which stood apart from either superpower bloc.[14] In this way, Yugoslavia occupied a much more prominent place in the international arena than could be accounted for by its own size and power. When the Cold War came to an end, its leveraged influence would suddenly plummet, a fact that many Yugoslav politicians would refuse to acknowledge.

Nationhood and Governance

Scholars who specialize in studying Yugoslavia are united in arguing against a simple ethnic explanation of the 1990s wars in that former country. Nationalism played its part, to be sure, but it did not emerge and run rampart as the spontaneous revival of old hatreds. It may be more accurate to call nationalism a consequence than a cause of the disintegration of Yugoslavia. The tragedy of that country was the deterioration of a government that had been relatively successful for several decades.[15] To understand that breakdown, one must understand the national problem, which its constitution had been designed to manage. The chief difficulty was that of reconciling two alternative understandings of "nationhood" -- the first being the sovereignty of a state or republic occupying a particular territory, the second being the right of a group sharing a common culture to make its own collective decisions. What constitutes a "nation" that is supposedly entitled to self-determination -- the people or the territory?

This very problem had bedeviled the multicultural Habsburg Empire, though the leaders of the Austrian Social Democrats had proposed a solution to it. Karl Renner and Otto Bauer meant to preserve the territory of the empire intact by allowing each individual to choose and express his or her own nationality without regard to where he or she lived in the state. Having eliminated the dispute over sovereignty, the only problem remaining would have been to devise ways of granting cultural autonomy and political representation to these self-declared social groupings. Such an approach separated the cultural dimension from national sovereignty and statehood.[16] Although this system was adopted successfully in a few places elsewhere,[17] it was unacceptable to the Yugoslav national movements, which invariably considered their nationhood to entail their right to statehood and independence, not merely their expressions of distinctive cultures.

The irreconcilable nature of the problem arises from this: Sovereign ownership of land means exclusive ownership. By that definition, then, it cannot be shared by two or more claimant nations -- even if in practice those nations actually could cooperatively inhabit the same territory by controlling their own separate institutions. (Such a political system had, in fact, been practiced during the Ottoman period when the religious communities of a single territory had constituted semiautonomous millets, each one governed by its own authorities.)[18]

The pursuit of the mutually exclusive, territorially sovereign version of nationhood has culminated in "ethnic cleansing" in our day. Still, this outcome was averted for decades by a system of balances artfully designed by Tito. It involved a notion of ethnic equality that differs from the prevailing one in the West, where individuals' rights are protected, but not those of their groups. Each major Yugoslav ethnic community was a "constituent nation" entitled to its own republic, within which other minority nationalities might also live, enjoying certain collective protections such as linguistic rights. In this highly decentralized system, the federal government had to be scrupulously egalitarian. Cultural rights of national expression were encouraged -- even funded -- but any political expression of nationalism was prosecuted. There was an elaborate effort to maintain equality among the so-called constituent nations by making sure they were represented proportionally in all public events. Indeed, when one person was charged with an offense, the authorities would attempt to balance this by prosecuting an appropriate number of individuals from the other ethnic communities of the area![19]

The Constitution of 1974

The "second" Yugoslavia -- the post-World War II one -- changed its constitution rather frequently. The 1946 version imitated Stalin's constitution of 1936. It was amended in 1953, when self-management was introduced. A new constitution was created in 1963, then amended in 1968, 1970, and 1971.[20]

The 1974 constitution (amended in 1981 and 1988) was a long, poorly written document of 406 articles that profoundly decentralized governance. It defined republics as nation-states and gave them almost all the attributes of statehood, including the right to be regulated by their own constitutions, subject only to the condition that these not contradict the federal constitution.[21]

Further, the 1974 constitution prescribed a system in which parliamentary deputies were elected, not by the citizens, but by lower-level "delegations" that were themselves elected by ordinary voters. The deputies were obliged to follow the instructions of those delegations and could be dismissed and replaced for failing to do so.[22] Many of the legislative functions of parliaments were meant to be given instead to the newly emphasized self-managing bodies that would not create law but "compacts."

Probably the most important change in the 1974 constitution was its recognition of additional nations that had not previously been considered "titular" or "constituent nations." The Bosniacs had been recognized three years before as a constituent Yugoslav people; now the Albanians and Hungarians were elevated in their status as nationalities, though it was ambiguous whether they had the right to secede or create a separate republic, (e.g., in Kosovo). Since each of the two latter nations had homelands outside the boundaries of Yugoslavia, there was theoretically no call for one inside these boundaries.

The most serious aspect of the 1974 constitution, however, was that it enabled any decision to be blocked by the veto of a single federal entity -- even one of the autonomous provinces of Serbia. Federal parliamentarians could not make a decision until they had all been instructed by the assemblies of the republics and autonomous provinces. As a result of this rule, there was little deliberation in the federal legislative bodies. The delegates spent much of their time waiting in the corridors for instructions from the delegations to which they were accountable.[23] The constitution did provide a means of breaking an impasse caused by lack of consensus among the republics, but only for urgent measures, and only for the period of one year.[24]

Tito, who was given by the constitution a lifelong role as virtual dictator of the country (a degree of power that no successor was supposed to inherit), had his reasons for dividing power in this way. There was a real danger that one of the constituent nations -- most likely Serbia -- would get too much power and use it to dominate the others. Tito went to great lengths in order to guarantee the equality of these "titular nations" and their respective sovereign republics. For example, the presidency itself was to consist of a group, not an individual, in which all the republics and autonomous provinces (Kosovo and Vojvodina) would be represented, and the role of presiding over this group presidency would rotate in alphabetical order, for a one-year term, among the republics. This consensual model could be considered undemocratic, for the majority did not necessarily win, nor did the minority lose. The preferred method of reaching a decision was one of "harmonizing interests" -- negotiating a compromise that would keep any nationality from feeling excluded. Tito set this system up with the sensible intention of keeping any nationalist group from gaining too much power. In this he succeeded, but at a terrible price: He kept his successors from being able to function effectively at all.

Post-Tito Politics

Tito died in 1980 at the age of 88. He had been masterful in persuading ethnic leaders to be flexible, but none of his successors had his skill or personal power. In the late 1980s and 1990 the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) dissolved amid new demands for democracy. It was clear that the federal constitution would have to be amended, but it could be changed only with the consensus of all federal units. The widening disagreements among the republics, especially on the question of centralization versus decentralization, made it impossible for them to reach significant agreements on such amendments.

In Yugoslavia, as in the other socialist states, people associated liberal democracy with decentralization or even separatism. In the first phases of democratization the reformers typically suppose that to attain political self-expression, each republic needs to be liberated from the centralized state, either by acquiring more autonomy within a confederal system or by breaking away and becoming independent. Ordinarily it is the communists who want to preserve the centralized state. Only later (too late) do the aspiring democrats recognize the inherently harmful effects of breaking up a union.

But not all socialist states are alike. Yugoslavia especially differed from the Soviet Union, where most important decisions were indeed made in Moscow, not in the regions. Tito had already decentralized Yugoslavia by the 1974 constitution to the point that the center no longer had the power to make necessary decisions, and there seemed to be no way to reconstitute the broken federation. Politicians already put their own republics' interests ahead of Yugoslavia's interests. The tragedy of Yugoslavia resulted not from heavy-handed control by a totalitarian center, but rather from the weakness of the federal government -- its inability to devise and administer reforms, protect citizens' rights, and maintain stability. The party appointed commissions -- one in 1981 to amend the constitution, and one in 1983 to develop an economic reform program -- but in the end, nothing could be implemented unless adopted by parliament and the cabinet, which were paralyzed by rules requiring the consensus of republics, which represented "titular nations."

Nevertheless, the imagination of reformers in the more affluent, liberal republics ran in the direction of demanding not less but even more autonomy. Slovenia was particularly insistent on this point. Croatia and Serbia, of course, had long clashed on the same issue, with Croatians often wanting more autonomy and Serbians generally wanting more control by the center. Now Slovenia and Croatia jointly insisted on further decentralizing the Yugoslav government by a new constitution defining a loose confederation of sovereign states; Serbia and Montenegro, on the other hand, wanted instead to strengthen the existing federal state. It was all too easy to interpret this conflict as a simple reenactment of the old Serb-versus-Croat struggles, which had been ethnic in nature. The fight over constitutional reform was played out by Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia, and by the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska narodna armija; JNA), which had a voting role in the presidency along with the republics. In the alliance between Slovenia and Croatia, Slovenia probably acted as a brake to restrain the Croatians who wanted autonomy and who might otherwise have dealt more aggressively with the Serbian centralizers.[25]

The Economic Crisis

Economic factors also played a part in polarizing the positions of these three republics on the centralization-versus-decentralization issue. The whole country had slipped seriously into debt, partly because the Western countries had been especially lenient to Yugoslavia as an incentive in the cold war, and partly because Yugoslavia experienced a serious trade deficit during the OPEC-created oil crisis of the early 1970s.

However, the republics faced very dissimilar situations. Slovenia was the most prosperous -- the only region with nearly full employment. It and Croatia, with its scenic Dalmatian coast, attracted Western tourists who spent freely during their vacations. Serbia lacked this extra income, and indeed some of its poor regions, such as Kosovo (where unemployment levels were at 50 percent in the 1970s), depended on receiving substantial subsidies from the federal state.

The oil crisis of the 1970s caused a worldwide recession in the 1980s. It began at about the time of Tito's death. Numerous Yugoslav guest workers lost their jobs in Western Europe and their remittances declined. About 80 percent of all households soon found their savings vanishing.[26] Interest rates on loans soared, driving Yugoslavia's debt up. (It would reach $14.3 billion by 1988.)[27] Only in 1982 was the true scale of the debt discovered, for the republics and autonomous provinces had been spending money recklessly, without even informing the federal government, and their spree accounted for fully 65 percent of the country's debt. They could do this only because the 1974 constitution had removed their accountability to the federal authorities.[28]

The International Monetary Fund required the federal government to introduce an anti-inflationary stabilization program of austerity, with trade and price liberalization. The IMF also demanded that Yugoslavia's central government develop workable procedures for making and enforcing economic decisions, especially by means of majority voting. This violated Tito's system of consensual voting, which gave a veto to every republic, including their various governors of the central bank.

Not surprisingly, the international financial community's demand for responsible federal control over the budget was opposed by those who had benefited from the extraordinary decentralization. The strongest opponents were republican politicians from the richer northwestern areas, who favored democracy in principle but actually had privileges to protect. They proved to be the most nationalistic and resistant to reform, defending the "national interests" of their respective republics.[29] As Susan Woodward has pointed out,

The two loudest opponents of the institutional aspects of reform were Slovenia and Croatia. . . . As the main proponents of consensual decision-making and a republican veto (as a protection for smaller nations within Yugoslavia), they were particularly antagonistic toward pressure from foreign creditors to end the stalemate in federal decisionmaking by introducing majority rule.[30]

Most republics stopped paying their share of the federal budget, and by late 1986 they agreed that the center should subsist entirely on federal revenues, without any contributions from the republics. This gave the republics fiscal sovereignty. The Serbian government was still the locus of support for liberal economic policies and a stronger federal government, but its autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina, were able to block even its internal economic reforms. Kosovo was considerably poorer than Serbia as a whole and Vojvodina somewhat richer. Each province had its own special reason for opposing fiscal reform. Affluent Slovenia, at the other extreme, opposed economic reforms because it was faring well, even if Yugoslavia was not, and would survive nicely if the central government should collapse.

Tito's system of guaranteeing equality among the constituent nations had worked well in restraining conflict, but those guarantees were being eroded from two sides. On the one side, republican politicians (especially in Slovenia and Croatia) were undermining the effectiveness of the central government and its institutions. On the other side, the international financial institutions were promoting recentralization of governance, but with decision-making procedures based on majority rule instead of rotating leadership and consensus; this prospect raised the fears of some constituent nations that they would soon be under Serbian domination.[31]

For a time there was a real opportunity for the impasse to be resolved. Ante Marković, the country's last prime minister, took office in March 1989 in a period of crisis. Kosovo, which had lost its autonomy in 1988, was the scene of Serbian nationalist revival and organized violence against the province's majority Albanians; unemployment approached 20 percent, inflation soared, and workers were striking all across Yugoslavia. Even in such a situation, Marković was prepared to accept the IMF's demands by increasing painful austerity measures. Soon the LCY broke up, leaving him in a strengthened role as the leading federal politician with responsibility for holding the country together. After trying unsuccessfully to mediate between Serbia and Slovenia, he decided to promote his own strategy. He believed that the crisis was largely economic in nature and that if the economy could be turned around, the political struggle -- centralization versus decentralization -- would more or less take care of itself. Given the urgency of the IMF's pressure at his back, Marković had, for the moment, sufficient power to win a financial package from the IMF in exchange for implementing economic reforms.[32] He devalued the dinar, froze wages, and liberalized prices, immediately achieving great success: Inflation dropped and the country's currency reserves increased. He became the most popular politician in Yugoslavia since Tito.

Translating this popularity into political support, however, was quite another matter. Marković realized that it would be necessary to hold federal elections very soon -- before the communist-governed republics held their own elections. His doing so might confer legitimacy on the federal government. He asked the Slovenian government, therefore, to delay its elections, which were scheduled for April 1990. Had Slovenia's Prime Minister Kučan complied, Marković might have succeeded, but he was unwilling to do so. The Slovenian communists left the LCY, renamed themselves the "Party of Democratic Reform," and went to the voters on schedule. Croatia did likewise two weeks later. These developments reduced Marković's domestic authority and virtually eliminated the prospect of Yugoslavia's survival as a federal state. The elections were understood to be the equivalent of a plebiscite on separatism and, except in Serbia, the separatists won.[33]

Ideology after Marxism

Credit for ending the Cold War must go, above all, to Mikhail Gorbachev. After he had been in power for even one year, it was clear that the arms race would be reversed. It also became clear that there would be no more Soviet support for communist revolutions around the world and no more invasions by Soviet troops to suppress change in other socialist countries. In fact, Gorbachev said of his own country, "We need democracy, just as we need air to breathe."

The statement did not escape the attention of Marxists in other countries, where the positive aspects of democracy had not, in fact, gone wholly unnoticed. Yugoslavia was not one of the countries where communist regimes fell during that astonishing contagious movement of 1989; its break from the Soviet Union had already occurred forty-one years before. Nevertheless, the legitimacy of its government's ideology was shaken by the crisis of Marxism, and the LCY dissolved during that period.

Two changes should be mentioned in connection with the ending of the cold war: (1) the impact of Yugoslavia's stature on the global scene, and (2) the evident need of former ideologues for a new doctrine that resembles, yet differs from, communism.

Throughout most of their lives, the politicians of Yugoslavia had enjoyed the privileges inadvertently created by Tito's row with Stalin. The superpowers had maintained an ambiguous relationship with Tito thereafter -- neither of them fully accepting him, yet each valuing his separateness from the other bloc and offering financial and other concessions such as military aid and cheap Soviet oil to keep him in that position. And as long as the neutral and nonaligned countries occupied a comparable status, Tito was at the head of that list too, enjoying the limelight. By the end of his life, his international role interested him far more than domestic politics, which he was generally delegating to others.

No one inherited Tito's mantle, and within a few years all the benefits of being a buffer between the superpowers diminished. No longer did other countries regard Yugoslavia's affairs as vital to their own interests, and no longer would Yugoslavs win financial concessions by flirting with the "other side." Some politicians failed to comprehend this diminution of their bargaining power and delayed when Europeans and Americans warned that they must put their financial house in order.

Yugoslav politicians also manifested another tendency that is more typical of formerly socialist countries during the transition from communism: their turn toward nationalism. The regularity with which this switch has occurred throughout Europe must cause some puzzlement until one considers that every communist was indoctrinated with a collectivist outlook stressing solidarity with one's own side and "struggle" against a clearly defined enemy. Without having some "other" to oppose, such a person may feel simply bewildered and unable to act politically and socially. The elimination of class struggle from political discourse therefore left a void that required the development of a new enmity in which one could identify members of the group almost automatically. "Such group identification was most readily found in ethnicity, which can be demonstrated simply through language (or dialect) or even by name (or family name) in such a way that it cannot be easily stopped or controlled," notes Žarko Puhovski.[34]

The earliest manifestation of this shift in Yugoslavia occurred in Serbia, where a group of nationalist intellectuals of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences developed a memorandum in 1985 that criticized Tito's multinational policies for being anti-Serb. They claimed that not only did Serbs encounter discrimination throughout Yugoslavia but in Kosovo they were being subjected to genocide by the Albanians![35] (In fact, the Albanian resistance movement was committed to nonviolent methods learned from Mahatma Gandhi.)

Kosovo had been the seat of the medieval Serbian Empire until 1389, when the Turks arrived there and established Ottoman rule by winning a great battle that is remembered every year by every Serb. (The symbolic importance of Kosovo to Serbs is perhaps best compared to the importance of Jerusalem to Jews.)

Yet for a long time the majority of people living in Kosovo have been some of the most disadvantaged people in Europe: Albanians. Owing to their high birthrate, their proportion in the population of Kosovo grew to 77 percent in 1981, while Serbs have emigrated in such numbers that their percentage of the total population fell to 13 percent by then.[36] With that trend came more inter-group conflict too. Tito's decision to confer greater autonomy on Kosovo was seen as an insult by the Serbs, who never accepted his decision.[37] From a practical political point of view, probably he did grant an excessive degree of autonomy to both of the provinces within Serbia.[38] With the intention of reversing this autonomy, a Serbian politician devised a plan in 1988 to topple the leaders of Vojvodina, thereby isolating the Albanians in Kosovo, whose leaders could then be more easily removed or intimidated by a show of Serbian national unity.

That is exactly what happened. Under pressure of mass rallies, the leaders of Vojvodina resigned and were replaced by people who supported the Serbian cause. The Albanians in Kosovo were then indeed vulnerable.[39] The Serbian politician who carried out this cunning tactic was to become increasingly famous in the months ahead. He was Slobodan Milošević.

Milošević had appeared to be a colorless communist bureaucrat, but he had one asset that he was to use astutely: a long friendship with Ivan Stambolić. Whenever Stambolić moved up the career ladder, he always found an important role nearby for Milošević. In 1986 Stambolić became president of Serbia, and Milošević took over his previous job as the president of the republic's League of Communists. Since tensions were high between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo, Stambolić sent Milošević there to cool the citizens' tempers and resolve their disputes. But by then, Milošević had established his own position in the government, taken control of the media, and prepared to challenge his mentor. The Kosovo trip became the occasion for grabbing power.

Despite being only a small minority in Kosovo, many Serbs felt that their historical ties to the place entitled them to control it. The Albanians, for their part, had frequently demonstrated in public, attempting to publicize the deplorable extent of their own poverty. Since 1981, when some 1,600 Albanians (mostly youths) had been jailed for protesting, the federal authorities had taken the Serbian side in an ethnic dispute, breaking Tito's taboo only a year after his death by declaring martial law and closing Prishtina University. By labeling the unrest as "counterrevolution," the party had allowed Serb nationalists to intervene in the autonomous province. At the time of Milošević's visit, the Serbs were claiming to be oppressed by the Albanians.[40]

There, at a rally of thousands of Serbians and Montenegrins, the mainly Albanian police used force, giving Milošević an opening to make the nationalistic promise that henceforth "nobody is going to beat these people." Instantly he became the leader of the Serbian "patriots."

During 1988, Milošević organized large numbers of mass "rallies for truth" throughout Serbia to publicize the supposedly grave plight of the Serbs in Kosovo as a matter of top national priority. Every town tried to outdo the previous rallies in showing patriotism and decorating public spaces with photos of Milošević; hundreds of thousands of Serbs turned out to attend these skillfully stage-managed "meetings," turning the baby-faced leader into a beloved populist hero.

In Kosovo on the other hand, recognition of Milošević's growing popularity elsewhere prompted extremist Albanian separatists to stage demonstrations of their own, calling for Kosovo to become a republic. This enabled Milošević to intervene with the police and the army, claiming that he was defending the integrity of Yugoslavia from secession. In March 1989, ostensibly with the approval of the Kosovan provincial assembly, a new Serbian constitution was promulgated that limited the autonomy of the provinces, thereby giving Serbia control of three votes in the federal presidency and three delegations in parliament, all of which voted in unison. Counting Montenegro, a reliable ally due to the strong links between the two republics (Milošević himself is Montenegrin), the balance in federal institutions was now four against four. This gave Belgrade an edge in the first multiparty elections that would take place within that republic. And Milošević, riding high in popularity, decided to hold early presidential elections in Serbia in December 1989 -- and to run as a communist facing no opposition parties. He won a landslide victory.

Now Serbian nationalism could no longer be contained. Serbs living in other republics were stirred up by the patriotic fervor and the ideological contents of the highly publicized Academy of Arts and Sciences Memorandum. Far from trying to cool ethnic passions, Milošević spoke of the enemies that surrounded Serbia. If he believed that he could use nationalism in a controlled way, he was mistaken. He had opened Pandora's box.[41] Inflamed by his oratory, by the hate propaganda of the state-controlled press, and by Croatian President Tudjman's responsively hateful anti-Serb speeches, the Serbs would become militant, calling for the right of all Serbs to live in one state -- though of course they already did so, as citizens of Yugoslavia.

Stalemate, Secession, and War

The first multiparty free elections were held in Slovenia in April 1990 and Croatia a month later. There were dozens of new parties, but the big winners were nationalists promoting separatism. Ex-communist Milan Kučan became president of Slovenia and Franjo Tudjman became the first elected president of Croatia. Slovenia had few inhabitants who were not Slovenian, but there were some 600,000 Serbs in Croatia -- mostly in a high state of national consciousness -- but nevertheless, Tudjman immediately proceeded to make sure that Croatia would become constitutionally a state of Croats and openly promoted anti-Serbianism.

Throughout 1990, then, three nationalisms were raging. Both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia held free elections in the autumn of 1990, bringing moderate new leaders to the fore who tried unsuccessfully to restrain the mounting antipathies that were leading to a confrontation among Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.[42]

In May 1991 it was Croatia's turn to appoint the president of the federal presidency. Stjepan Mesić was supposed to take the helm, though as a Croatian he already openly favored the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milošević, now controlling the votes not only of Serbia but also of Kosovo, Vojvodina, and Montenegro, was able to block his appointment. No internal mechanism existed for resolving this stalemate. However, the "troika" of foreign ministers for the European Community (later to become the European Union) came to Belgrade the following month and insisted that Mesić be seated as president. On this occasion Milošević complied. Actually, Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia were simply buying time in preparing the breakup of their country, which was already inexorable.[43] Milošević had no objection to the secession of Slovenia (in fact, he may have been trying to drive them out so he could deal with a Croatia without allies),[44] and the Slovenes gave no thought to the effect of their departure on the rest of the country.

The leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia retained hope until the end that the country would hold together, for they did not believe their own republics could survive without Yugoslavia. In the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina this was because of its very disparate, and now volatile, ethnic mix. On June 6, 1991, Kiro Gligorov, president of Macedonia, and Alija Izetbegović, president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, addressed a meeting of all the presidents of the constituent republics of Yugoslavia. The two of them had developed a proposal for redefining Yugoslavia as a loose confederation and preventing its dissolution. Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tudjman, and Milan Kučan rejected the proposal, saying that it was contrary to the interests of their republics.[45] The die was cast.

International Intervention

Only then -- far too late -- did the international community seriously attempt to intervene. Prime Minister Marković had appealed for economic assistance to the European Community in the summer of 1990, but despite his outstanding success with economic reforms they had deferred his request until he had solved the nationalist conflicts then raging. Money was to be his reward for containing nationalism; actually, Marković had required the support of the EC in order to continue his reforms despite the divisiveness of separatist leaders. Without it, his economic program collapsed, and every opportunity became open for the dissolution of Yugoslavia.[46] Later, Europe realized its earlier mistake and offered the government of Yugoslavia $4 billion if it would stay together. By then the offer was not even seriously considered.[47] As prime minister of Yugoslavia, Marković no longer had any stature and was not included in further negotiations.

However, as Croatia and Slovenia prepared to declare their independence, both Europe and the United States began a flurry of diplomacy. On June 22 and 23, 1991, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe stated their support for the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and the EC foreign ministers (including Germany) voted unanimously not to recognize Slovenia and Croatia if they seceded unilaterally.

U.S. Secretary of State James Baker visited Belgrade on June 21, for one day, listened to all sides, then declared that the United States opposed the breakup of the country and also opposed the use of force to hold the country together. All the participants heard what they wanted to hear. Serbians heard only that the country should stay united; the Slovenians and Croatians heard only that force should not be used against them, should they decide to secede.[48] Baker warned Tudjman and Kučan that the United States would not recognize unilateral secession and would hold those who fail to negotiate responsible for the bloodshed. He was amazed to witness Tudjman assert with blithe confidence that the Yugoslav army would not attack him if he declared independence.[49] In the Croatian leader's mind, such a declaration would not mean his republic and Slovenia were seceding from all forms of union, but only from Milošević's version of Yugoslavia.[50]

And on June 25, 1991, four days after Baker's visit and over the objections of many of their own citizens, Slovenia and Croatia did declare independence. Two days later war started in Slovenia. It has been called an "operetta war," for the Slovenes lost only 9 men and the JNA only 37. In fact, according to the U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, the Slovenes succeeded only because Kučan made a deal with Milošević that the JNA would withdraw from Slovenia.[51] Croatia, on the other hand, would not win its independence so easily.

On June 30 the "troika" of European Community foreign ministers attended the session of the Yugoslav presidency in Belgrade and urged their hosts to exercise goodwill. A week later EC representatives attended another presidency meeting and extracted pledges of a three-month moratorium on implementation of Slovenian and Croatian declarations of independence. The Brioni Accord did end the war in Slovenia. The three-month moratorium agreement, however, did not prevent the war in Croatia, where Serb irregulars and the JNA launched heavy fighting by the end of June.[52]

The war in Croatia was largely a contest of public relations waged through the international media. The Croatians claimed to be exercising their right, as a nation, to self-determination. The Serbs said they had no objection to that, so long as the Serb regions of Croatia were not also dragged out of Yugoslavia; they plausibly justified their fears on the basis of the Ustasha's atrocities of 1941. Initially the press was openminded. However, unlike the Serbs, the Croat fighters allowed journalists to go wherever they wanted, even into battles, at their own risk. Those foreigners who did roam around witnessed a disproportionate number of atrocities perpetrated by Serbs. It is conceivable that, had the Serbians been equally open to visits, the journalists might have attributed a different ratio of atrocities to the two sides. In any case, the press soon came to blame the worst violence on Serbs, especially those trained in Chetnik organizations. As Slovenes and Croats deserted from the army and went over to join the Croatian National Guard or other alternative units, the JNA became predominantly Serb and was also accused of atrocities in a confidential report compiled by EC observers.[53] During that period JNA shelling destroyed two Croatian cities, Vukovar and Dubrovnik.

On September 7, 1991, the EC convened a Peace Conference on Yugoslavia in The Hague, with Lord Carrington as its chairman. Though the fighting was continuing in Croatia, Carrington continued to defend the territorial integrity of that country, without however finding any basis for compromise. Still the war continued. Germany's foreign minister Hans Dietrich Genscher now reversed his position, arguing in favor of recognizing Croatia and Slovenia.

Others, including the United States, regarded this as a grave error of judgment. The U.S. negotiator Cyrus Vance and Lord Carrington both insisted there should be no Western recognition of any Yugoslav republic until they had all agreed on their relationships. Vance told Warren Zimmerman, "My friend Genscher is out of control on this. What he's doing is madness."[54] Alija Izetbegović went to visit Genscher in Bonn, hoping to convince him that EC recognition would bring war to Bosnia. Oddly, when they met, Izetbegović failed to raise the issue, probably leading Genscher to conclude that he had no objections.[55] On December 16 and 17, Genscher succeeded in persuading the reluctant British to accept his position in exchange for some German concessions regarding the Maastricht Treaty. The EC decided to recognize the independence of any Yugoslav republic only after its claim had been investigated by its judicial commission, to be headed by a French lawyer, Robert Badinter.

Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo joined Slovenia and Croatia in applying. Badinter recommended recognition of all except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo (which was not a republic) but asked Croatia to institute better protection for minorities. Bosnia-Herzegovina was asked to hold a referendum before proceeding further with its plans.

But the Serbs held a referendum of their own referendum first, and 99 percent of them voted for this position: If the republic tried to break away from Yugoslavia, they would insist on forming a Serb republic within Bosnia-Herzegovina. Accordingly, their leaders proclaimed their own new republic, with its own government and currency. The EC ignored their referendum, as they had also ignored the referendum held by the autonomist Serbs in Croatia to remain within Yugoslavia. The Serbs, in turn, boycotted the referendum organized for the Badinter Commission, which took place at the end of February 1992. Of those who did vote in that Bosnian referendum, some 99 percent supported independence. The polarization within Bosnia could not be sharper. Bosnia received diplomatic recognition and a seat at the United Nations that same month. And as predicted, war was about to begin.

Oddly, the same logic underlay the Bosniac-led government and their Serbian opponents. Izetbegović had been willing to accept almost any compromise that would have held Yugoslavia together, but if, despite everything, Slovenia and Croatia seceded, he could not tolerate becoming a minority within a Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia. He would have to secede in turn. For their part, the Bosnian Serbs had also wanted to hold Yugoslavia together at all costs but if, despite everything, Bosnia seceded, they could not bear to become a minority within a Bosniac- and Croatian-dominated Bosnia. They would have to secede in turn.

This argument was identical to the one expressed a short time before by the Serbs of Croatia, who had also objected being dragged out of Yugoslavia against their will. According to Tito's system of governance in which every constituent nationality had veto power, nothing could have been imposed on them. Any referendum using Tito's consensual approach would have required a majority of voters of each nation and each significant national minority to accept the proposal before it could be adopted. This might have produced a stalemate, to be sure, but it certainly would have prevented two wars. Now, however, the usual European version of democracy was imposed; the majority would win and the minority would lose.

But every true democracy protects minorities (e.g., by a Bill of Rights and a legal system) from the "tyranny of the majority." Recalling the history of ethnic violence and the weakness of the rule of law in Yugoslavia, some groups had well-founded fears of a simple system of majority rule, yet their concerns were dismissed. Warren Zimmerman tried throughout that period to persuade Serbs to participate in, and accept the outcome of, the referendum Badinter required, which would have made them into a minority within an independent Bosnia.[56] As Susan Woodward notes,

It was a matter of unresolved constitutional interpretation whether republics had the right to secede and, if so, whether individuals who identified with another constituent nation within these republics had to give their consent. In choosing [to define sovereignty in terms of] the republican borders and the claims of the majority nation for an independent state, the EC politicians made no accommodation to this second, constitutionally equal category of rights to self-determination. . . .

[Yet the EC] had no leverage with which to persuade the Serbs in Croatia and Albanians in Serbia to be satisfied with minority rights when their rebellions were motivated, in part, by real discrimination by the governments that would be expected to guarantee them protections.[57]

Zimmerman and the EC advised the minority Serbs just to lose and to accept their defeat. Instead, they chose to fight.

The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina

The war in Bosnia came as no surprise. As soon as the cease-fire took hold in Croatia on January 2, 1992, the Serb troops began moving south in their tanks and armored personnel carriers. Later, the Bosnian soldiers in the JNA were removed from their former positions to become the 80,000-man Bosnian Serb Army and, still on the Belgrade payroll, to take up positions all around the country.

There were some efforts to prevent the war. For example, the French had proposed to the Bush administration that preventive peacekeepers be imported to support the elected government of Bosnia. This idea was rejected as containing no "exit strategy."[58] Despite its victory in the Gulf War, the U.S. officials still feared getting into another Vietnam, from which they could not extricate themselves. For this reason, they made a great point of not threatening to use force. As Wayne Bert notes,

Eagleburger seemingly had no misgivings about the value of American credibility unless some overt threat was made for which there was no follow-through. Complete inaction, in his view, did not compromise U.S. credibility.[59]

Only much later, in 1995, did this U.S. policy change, after the news of massacre in Srebrenica reached President Clinton -- a tale of horror in which hundreds or thousands of innocent victims were slaughtered while under the protection of Western peacekeepers.[60] Clinton blew up, claiming that the Bosnia policy was "doing enormous damage to the United States and to our standing in the world. We look weak."

But this was 1995. In 1992 there had been no willingness to intervene to prevent fighting in Bosnia. There had been an arms embargo against all belligerents, but while the Bosniacs had little access to weaponry, the Serbs had all the old JNA weapons they could use.

During the first year of the war, the Bosniac government was fighting against both the Serbs and the Croats, a fact that speaks volumes about the intentions of the Croatian leadership. Both Serbia and Croatia evidently hoped to divide Bosnia in two, sharing the two pieces, and eliminate the Bosniacs. The United Nations did send peacekeepers -- the United Nations Protection Force, or UNPROFOR -- but gave them no permission to protect anyone. Both sides resented or even hated them for their impotence.

The war in Bosnia was remarkably nasty, marked by atrocities, sieges, concentration camps, and organized rapes designed to complete the "ethnic cleansing" of whole regions. This is not the place to record those stories, many of which cannot even be verified. The lies and organized disinformation made truth the "first casualty" of this war, even more than some others. For one thing, the Sarajevo Bosniac government had no possibility of defeating the Serbs who surrounded their city and kept it isolated for three years. Their only hope depended on enlisting the sympathy of Western citizens to an extent that the U.S. troops would come to fight beside them. Sometimes sympathy did influence Western public opinion, as, for example, after photos reminiscent of the Holocaust were shown of a concentration camp at Omarska and later after the massacre at Srebrenica was publicized.

But how much manipulation was going on? It has been alleged that the Sarajevo leaders actually shelled their own citizens to win foreign pity.[61] Mark Danner claims that the Bosniacs tried to "make use of the misery of the enclaves to force action by the United Nations and Western countries. . . . [They] were simply trying to make use of the only weapon the peculiar and hypocritical international involvement in their country seemed to offer them."[62] I do not know that this is true, and it would be unwise to accept it uncritically, but it is possible to distort reality in a different direction by omitting all stories that have not been verified.

Whatever the truth may be, Western observers of the war came to believe, on the basis of considerable evidence,[63] that the Serbs' side was disproportionately responsible for war crimes. However justified their political cause may have been (and their initial arguments were as reasonable as those of their opponents), the Serbs lost respect internationally as a result of these reported atrocities. The great majority of Western analysts came to support the Bosniacs and to castigate UNPROFOR for doing too little on their behalf.[64]

Eventually, Bill Clinton decided to bomb the astonished Serbs, against the wishes of countries with peacekeeping troops vulnerable on the ground. Next he pressured all the belligerents to come together at an air force base in Dayton, Ohio, and negotiate a settlement to their dispute, the "Dayton Accords," a document that was signed a month later in Europe, where it is known as the "Paris Peace Plan." It called for the transfer of peacekeeping responsibility from the United Nations to NATO and for the division of Bosnia into two sectors: the Federation of Muslims and Croats and the Republika Srpska. The Muslims and Croats are the "constituent peoples" of the Federation, while the Serbs are the constituent peoples of the Republika Srpska, and each group is respectively entitled to elect politicians of its own nation in its own republic to positions in the bicameral federal legislature and the federal presidency.

The Dayton agreement stopped the war without bringing peace. At this writing, Bosnians stray only with peril into the territory of the former enemy. A war crimes tribunal is functioning in The Hague, but few of those charged have been arrested and brought to trial. Although the NATO troops (called SFOR -- "Sustaining Forces") remain in place throughout Bosnia, many people believe that war will return as soon as they leave -- which they must eventually do. The task, then, is to find a new system of governance that will enable each ethnic group in Bosnia to feel secure while dealing with members of other nations.


Of all the lessons to be learned from the tragedy of Yugoslavia, three should be emphasized here. First, the breakup of any state should be regarded as a dangerous policy that may result in warfare -- especially if there is a dispute over ownership and sovereignty in a particular territory.

Second, the international community should not recognize any unilateral secession until all the relevant groups have settled their claims and accept the terms of their new relationship.

And third, the transition to democracy is not necessarily accomplished easily. Some groups may legitimately feel threatened, especially if the mechanisms that formerly protected their interests and ensured their equality are to be replaced by simple decision making by majority rule. Every democracy requires more than majority-rule voting; it requires complicated legal and institutional protections for minorities. Majority rule should be imposed only with great caution and in conjunction with alternative methods of protecting minorities. There are numerous other democratic procedures that contrast with the majoritarian system of governance and that provide greater participation for all the diverse groups within a country. Taken together, these can go far toward holding together the groups that might otherwise be separatists.[65]

I end with this note: The situation in Kosovo, where nationalistic hatred was first exploited for the personal gain of politicians, remains unresolved. In 1998, when fighting broke out there, the international community began pressuring Belgrade to hold discussions with the separatists. This is not the end of the matter, and war actually seems imminent as we go to press this summer. If the lessons are learned that should be learned, democratic governments around the world will insist that the human rights of all citizens be protected, in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.


[1]. Since the country broke apart in the 1990s, Serbs and Croats have been trying to split their common language into two -- Serbian and Croatian.

[2]. Mihailo Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 2nd ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996), 21.

[3]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 16-20.

[4]. Chrisopher Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse: Causes, Course and Consequences (New York: New York University Press, 1995), 29.

[5]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 35.

[6]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 59.

[7]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 40.

[8]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 65.

[9]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 43-44. See also Michael Ignatieff, Blood and Belonging:Journeys into the New Nationalism (New York and Toronto: Viking, 1993), 22-24.

[10]. For an evaluation of the various estimates, see Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 45-56.

[11]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 47.

[12]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 67.

[13]. According to Susan Woodward, there was some dispute as to whether republican autonomy did include the right to secede from the federation. See Susan L.Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995), 31.

[14]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 25-26.

[15]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 15.

[16]. Dušan Nečak, "Historical Elements for Understanding the `Yugoslav Question'," in Yugoslavia: The Former and Future, ed. Payam Akhavan and Robert Howse (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995), 21-22. Also see Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 37.

[17]. See John Bacher, "The Breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire," in this volume.

[18]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 20.

[19]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 37.

[20]. Vojin Dimitrijević, "The 1974 Constitution and Constitutional Process as a Factor in the Collapse of Yugoslavia," in Yugoslavia: The Former and Future, 45.

[21]. Mitja Žagar, "Yugoslavia: What Went Wrong? Constitutional Aspects of the Yugoslav Crisis from the Perspective of Ethnic Conflict," a paper presented at the Science for Peace conference, "The Lessons of Yugoslavia," University of Toronto, March 1997. It will be published in volume 3 of the series Research on Russia and Eastern Europe, ed. Metta Spencer (Greenwood, Conn.: JAI Press, forthcoming).

[22]. Dimitrijević, "The 1974 Constitution," 55.

[23]. Dimitrijević, "The 1974 Constitution," 60-61. On the role of the republican politicians, see Ivo Banać, "Post-Communism as Post-Yugoslavism: The Yugoslav Non-Revolutions of 1989-1990," in Eastern Europe in Revolution, ed. Ivo Banać (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992), 168-80.

[24]. Žagar, "What Went Wrong?"; Dimitrijevic, "The 1974 Constitution," 61.

[25]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 63.

[26]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 49, 51.

[27]. Robert K. Schaeffer, Power to the People: Democratization Around the World (Boulder: Westview, 1997) 176.

[28]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 69-70.

[29]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 61.

[30]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 62

[31]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 74, 78-80.

[32]. Michel Chossudovsky, "Dismantling Former Yugoslavia, Recolonizing Bosnia," paper presented to the conference, "The Lessons of Yugoslavia," March 1997. Chossudovsky's opinion of Marković's reform is far less favorable than that expressed by other Yugoslavia specialists, especially Christopher Bennett.

[33]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 117-19.

[34]. Žarko Puhovski, "The Bleak Prospects for Civil Society," in Yugoslavia: The Former and Future, 122. See also Duško Doder, "Yugoslavia: New War, Old Hatreds," Foreign Policy 91 (1993), 14.

[35]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 81.

[36]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 90.

[37]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 86-87.

[38]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 95.

[39]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 103.

[40]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 86-91.

[41]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 101-6.

[42]. Crnobrnja, The Yugoslav Drama, 143-46.

[43]. Darko Šilović, "The International Response to the Crisis in Yugoslavia," a paper presented to the conference, "The Lessons of Yugoslavia," March 1997.

[44]. This was the opinion of U.S. Ambassador Warren Zimmerman as expressed in his book Origins of a Catastrophe (New York: Times Books, 1996), 125.

[45]. Dušan Janjić, "Resurgence of Ethnic Conflict in Yugoslavia: The Demise of Communism and the Rise of the `New Elites' of Nationalism," in Yugoslavia: The Former and Future, 31-32.

[46]. Mihailo Crnobrnja, "European Union and the Breakup of Yugoslavia," a paper presented to the conference, "The Lessons of Yugoslavia," March 1997.

[47]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 138.

[48]. Silović, "The International Response."

[49]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 132-37, describes Baker's visit, portraying it as an admirable performance.

[50]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 158, blames the war on the military, reminding us that in 1991 the three Baltic republics had also declared unilateral independence from the Soviet Union without Western approval, yet without leading to war, since the Soviet military had not attacked.

[51]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 145. This may be a minority view, however. An alternative interpretation holds that at that point Milošević did not have control over the JNA and that, furthermore, the generals were surprised to encounter armed resistance on the part of the Slovenes.

[52]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 148-49; Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 159.

[53]. Bennett, Yugoslavia's Bloody Collapse, 160-66.

[54].Vance told me in 1998 (personal communication) that he had indeed been angry with Genscher but that considerably later Genscher had admitted that he had been wrong and had apologized.

[55]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 176-77.

[56]. Zimmerman, Origins of a Catastrophe, 187.

[57]. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 210.

[58]. Mark Danner, "America and the Bosnia Genocide," New York Review of Books, December 4, 1997, 60-61.

[59]. Wayne Bert, as quoted by Danner, "America and the Bosnia Genocide," 63.

[60]. Danner, "America and the Bosnia Genocide," 57.

[61]. James R. Davis, The Sharp End: A Canadian Soldier's Story (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1997), 173.

[62]. Mark Danner, "Clinton, the U.N. and the Bosnian Disaster," New York Review of Books, Dec. 18. 1997, 74.

[63]. Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime (New York: Penguin, 1996).

[64]. James Gow, Triumph of the Lack of Will: International Diplomacy and the Yugoslav War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996).

[65]. The contrast between majoritarian democracy and consensus (or "consociational") democracy has best been elaborated by Arend Lijphart. See his book Democracies: Patterns of Majoritarian and Consensus Government in Twenty-One Countries (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984).