Did the Muslims Have an Option?
Western observers have often placed a large part of the responsibility on the Muslims themselves for the concatenation of events in Bosnia-Herzegovina that led to their genocide. In essence, this attitude tacitly placed a portion of the blame on the victim.
According to this view, the proximate cause of what befell the Muslims was the latter's pursuit of Bosnia-Herzegovina's independence after a positive vote in the February 29, 1992 referendum.1 After this, the Serbs, allegedly not wishing to stop being part of Yugoslavia or to become a minority in another state, took up arms, with the help of their fellow-Serbs from the neighboring rump Yugoslavia. Implicitly, based on this premise, had the Muslims acted with greater self-restraint and remained within the rump Yugoslavia (already shorn of Slovenia and Croatia, and eventually also of Macedonia), they would not have become victims of ethnic cleansing. A related strand of conventional wisdom is the foreign-recognition-as-precipitant theory. According to this view, without the "premature" recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina's independence by the European Community (the EC, later renamed the European Union, or EU) and the United States in April, 1992, somehow there would have been no fighting and no ethnic cleansing.