War In Yugoslavia

1281 Words6 Pages
Often described as Europe’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War, the Yugoslavian war, which lasted from 1991 to 2001, was cradled by the shift in the international balance of power from the cold war’s bipolarity to contemporary unipolarity. The conflict often connotes the euphemism “ethnic cleansing”, which was coined in order to describe the rampant genocidal trends that plagued the civil war. But, what caused this nation state to be torn by such a vicious conflict? This question is often answered with a Manichean interpretation: The antagonists, the Serbs led by Slobodan Milosevic's genocidal aspirations martyrized the innocent Bosnian Muslims for more than a decade. Although, there certainly is some truth to this simplistic statement,…show more content…
In the first place, the turbulent post-first world war multipolar system at the time of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 was responsible for a major source of ethnic tension. However, even more relevant to the conflict was the shift from bipolarity to unipolarity in the early 1990s. The fall of the Soviet Union sparked a lengthy chain reaction within Yugoslavia, which eventually led to its dissolution. With the collapse of the iron curtain, the ex-communist sphere of influence was available for the first time in decades; this, in turn led to the European policy of integration, the newly hegemonic US encouraged the westernization of eastern countries. Thus, Slovenia seized an opportunity to assimilate, leading to its concession in 1991. A domino effect ensued, causing the subsequent declarations of independence by Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. By 1992, all that remained in Yugoslavia was Serbia and Montenegro. European integration was very attractive to the minority groups in Yugoslavia who saw an opportunity for independence and prosperity; thus, the collapse of the Soviet Union made it irresistible. Communism, which had previously tied the people through interdependence, was no longer an adhesive…show more content…
The loss of power experienced by Serbia endowed Serbian nationalism with an increasingly aggressive character. Essentially, ethnic nationalism is very much the protagonist of this war. When analyzed from a state level, the war in Yugoslavia is the by-product of the effect of negative integration caused by ethnic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism is defined as “: A form of nationalism that emphasizes the organic and usually ethnic unity of the nation and aims to protect or strengthen its national ‘spirit’ and cultural sameness.” This variant of nationalism is deeply engraved in the ethnic unity of a people; its homogenizing and supremacist character ultimately breeds a xenophobic attitude. Nonetheless, Serbia was not the only country to experience a surge in this type of nationalism. As argued by James Bisett who was the Canadian Ambassador to Yugoslavia in the 1990’s “Alia Izetbegovic, the Muslim Bosnian leader, was an Islamist Extremist who made no attempt to hide his plans for destroying the Christian entity in Bosnia, writing ‘there can be no peace or co-existence between the islamist faith and the non-islamist institutions.” Furthermore, due to the collapse of communism, the economic state of the nation worsened. The diseased economy had severely negative socio-political impacts and caused ‘intense frustration and the rise in proclivity to
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