Both the historical context and the physical environment in which military conflicts take place combine to shape them. The historical context—a product of the past interaction of such elements as ethnicity, religious belief, political ideology, economic conditions, and social relationships—influences both the causes and the objectives of military campaigns as well as their intensity. The physical realities of terrain, climate, prevailing weather patterns, and the nature of the man-made infrastructure, particularly the lines of communications (roads, rail lines, inland waterways, ports, and airfields), determine the nature of plans and influence their execution. Like many other conflicts, the MuslimCroat civil war in central Bosnia in 1992–94 was shaped by both historical and physical factors, some patent and immediate, some obscure and remote.1
Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia
The Muslim-Croat civil war in central Bosnia from 1992–94 arose in the immediate context of the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia following the death of Marshal Tito in 1980. The roots of ethnic, religious, economic, and ideological division were, of course, much deeper, and nowhere were such divisions so pronounced as in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the historic borderland between East and West. In an era in which the entire region was dissolving into its component parts, it should not have come as a surprise that the long-standing enmities existing between Muslims and Croats in Central Bosnia should have bubbled to the surface once again to fuel the fires of civil war.
The political and cultural division of the South Slav tribal groups destined to become the modern Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs began in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., soon after the completion of their migration into the former Illyrian provinces of what had been the Roman Empire. All fell under the domination of more powerful cultures—Germanic, Magyar, and Byzantine Greek—which they resisted to greater or lesser degrees, but which ultimately determined their basic orientation. The Slovenes and Croats adopted the Western, Roman Catholic ways of their Germanic and Magyar overlords. The Serbs, on the other hand, adopted the Eastern, Orthodox Christian mores of the Byzantine Empire.