Nationalism, Responsibility, and the People-as-One: Reflections on the Possibilities for Peace in the Former Yugoslavia
The success West Europeans have enjoyed since World War II in creating supranational structures that produced both political stability and economic development gave them, until recently at least, a sense that they had entered a new stage of history, one that left bestiality behind. The depression, the violence of war, the holocaust -- these were the unclean emanations of the past, the result of national, racial, and ideological claims that had since been tamed. Postwar Europeans were well pleased that they had found a prosperous way to put these passions behind them and to live together, if not without tension, then at least without killing. The inhumanity of the wars of Yugoslav succession therefore came as a shock to everyone who believed that such grotesque cruelties were a thing of the past. The disasters in southeastern Europe have rekindled respect for the institutions of Western Europe that have maintained the civility of public life and lent a renewed urgency to the issues posed by nationalism.
The most pressing problem of nationalist excess is how (and if Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians, not to mention Kosovars and Macedonians, can find a way to live peacefully with one another after the bitter passions engendered by the inhumanity of their conflicts. The East Central European countries, along with Romania and Bulgaria, seem to be proceeding on their varied pathways toward eventual integration in the postwar structures of international cooperation, but the former Yugoslav lands have