Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of "Ethnic Cleansing"

By Norman Cigar | Go to book overview
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6. Motivating the Perpetrator
The Serbian Establishment's Calculations

As the sheer magnitude and horror of events became apparent, central questions arose: What would motivate a Serb to take part in or even condone genocide? Why would a Serb act in a way that was out of character with conduct up to that time? For the Serbian political, social, and intellectual leaders in Belgrade and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the motivation to engage in genocide, understandably, was self-generated. In a sense, they themselves were the motivating force for precipitating, implementing, and justifying this process, as the leadership pursued a concrete political agenda outlined in the Serbian Memorandum.

It is improbable that the Serbian political elite really believed, or cared, whether the Muslims were "fundamentalist." Few of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslims, in any case, seem to have been motivated by political Islam or by movements from other countries. Neither have Muslim clerics played a significant role in politics. On the contrary, it is probable that whatever the level of the Muslims' religiosity or consciousness, Muslims would still have been targeted simply because they stood in the way of Serbian national interests. The propaganda campaign against fundamentalism did provide a convenient basis to the Serbian political elite for a threat portrayal and emotive symbology. Both of these tactics could be used as mobilizing tools and as a hoped-for cover to convince domestic and international audiences of the righteousness of Serbian policy. Serb leaders continued to use the theme of a fundamentalist threat with domestic audiences long after they

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