UNDER MARSHAL TITO, the former communist republic of Yugoslavia was a multiethnic state of six component republics or regions —Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. When Tito died in 1980, however, he left a Yugoslavia too decentralized for any ethnic group to dominate. Into this vacuum stepped Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and his ultranationalistic campaign to make “Greater Serbia” the new postcommunist Yugoslavia. This led to the secession of Slovenia and Croatia in 1991, triggering ethnic fighting between Croats, Muslims, and Serbs in those countries. The residents of Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro faced the choice of whether to stay in what remained of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. The Montenegrins, closely related to the Serbs and less economically developed, decided to stay. The Macedonians left and, while presently struggling with an increase in ethnic intolerance, have managed independence relatively peacefully.
In 1992, the Bosnian government, supported by Muslims and Croats, also voted for secession. The United States and European Union recognized the newly independent state of Bosnia-Herzegovina in April 1992. But the Bosnian Serbs (about one-third of the population) refused to accept the mostly Muslim Bosnian government. Milosevic immediately armed local Bosnian Serbs and began a wider war—a land grab masquerading as an age-old ethnic conflict.
Unfortunately for Milosevic, too many members of rival ethnic communities remained in the seized territories. As a result, the more territories the Bosnian Serbs seized, the more difficult the territories became to occupy and administer. To achieve his ideal of an ethnically homogeneous state, Milosevic turned to ethnic cleansing—that is, the use of violence and deportations to remove any trace of the other ethnic communities who had previously cohabited with Serbs in the coveted territories.
In Bosnia, the internal Serbian minority, allied with the Serbian/Yu-