Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition

Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition

Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition

Broken Bonds: Yugoslavia's Disintegration and Balkan Politics in Transition

Synopsis

Struggling against high odds, Yugoslavia managed to survive from its inception in 1918 until the early 1990s. But now, tragic ethnic and regional conflicts have irrevocably fragmented the country. In his timely book, Lenard Cohen explores the original conception and motives underlying the "Yugoslav idea," looking at the state's major problems, achievements, and failures during its short and troubled history.Cohen answers a broad range of questions concerning contemporary Yugoslavia: How did the state plunge from its position as a positive model to an essentially negative case of socialist reform? What measures for recovery were proposed by the country's ethnically and regionally segmented one-party elite? What were the reasons for the eventual abandonment of reform socialism, the elimination of the single party's monopoly, and the rapid delegitimation of the country's federal political institutions? What programs have been offered by the noncommunist and "born again" communist leaders elected to power during the revival of multiparty pluralism in 1990? How did their efforts to achieve regional and ethnic sovereignty place the country in such a precarious and ultimately fatal position?The concluding chapters of the book offer an analysis of the causes and horrifying consequences of the military conflict and civil war from 1991 to 1994, including a discussion of the impotent efforts at peacekeeping, the dynamics of the complex and savage struggle in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and an examination of the problems faced by Yugoslavia's successor states.

Excerpt

The twentieth century began, and seems destined to end, with the major South Slav ethnic groups divided among separate Balkan states. Whether such division is a tragedy or a blessing depends on one's vantage point. For many inhabitants and observers of Southeastern Europe, the creation and preservation of a unified "Yugoslav" (i.e., South Slav) state--such as the "First Yugoslavia" (1918-1941) and the "Second Yugoslavia" (1944-1991)--exemplified a natural and desirable arrangement. For others, however, such statehood constituted an artificial phenomenon, speciously conceived and doomed to disintegrate. Unfortunately, contending efforts to either radically engineer or aggressively demolish Yugoslav state cohesion have frequently resulted in grievous suffering for the inhabitants of the Balkan region--a pattern that continues unabated on the threshold of the twenty-first century.

Sharing Rebecca West's view that any excursion into Yugoslavia's complex affairs vividly illustrates how "the past has made the present," I begin this book by revisiting the genesis of the "Yugoslav idea" prior to the creation of the first united South Slav state and also by examining that state's troubled development under both the royalist and communist regimes. In subsequent chapters I discuss the factors that have fostered and impeded the more recent evolution of Yugoslav state and political development, devoting particular attention to the causes and consequences of the Second Yugoslavia's drift toward disintegration in the 1980s and its eventual violent breakup in the early 1990s. In the last three chapters (8, 9, 10) of the book I consider the serious difficulties connected with the internationalization of "the Yugoslav crisis" during 1992, 1993, and 1994, and the savage ethnic and political conflict on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

This second edition provides additional information which has recently become available (1993-1994) on the process of Yugoslavia's disintegration, includes an entirely new chapter (9) on the complex war in Bosnia, and offers an expanded concluding chapter concerning the political development of the successor states to the Yugoslav Communist federation.

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