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The Politics of Causation

There are two popular theories of how the war in Yugoslavia started. Dr. Susan L. Woodward in Balkan Tragedy shows how both are wrong, and gives us a well-documented and convincing history of the causes that led to the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

One opinion, widely held in this country, is that the fighting in Bosnia is part of a pattern of aggression by the Serbs against the legitimate governments of sovereign members of the United Nations. Internationally recognized borders have been violated by Serbs seeking the creation of a greater Serbia, meaning the incorporation into Serbia of portions of both Croatia and Bosnia, and the forced expulsion of non-Serbian populations (ethnic cleansing) from these areas. Such acts of aggression are clear violations of international law, and the aggressor should be punished. To this end the United Nations, often led by the United States, has imposed sanctions on Serbia, maintained an arms embargo, a no-fly zone, and brought other forms of psychological pressure to bear. In some ways the situation is analogous to that of Iraq or Libya.

The second popular view is that the conflict in Yugoslavia is really a civil war, based on hatreds that have been kept in a deep freeze by a totalitarian state. With the fall of communism, these ethnic conflicts have sprung up like repressed coil springs. This view is held in Europe and Canada, precisely those countries that have committed troops...

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