The ongoing problem in Bosnia is one that will have to be addressed by the international community, and American officials responsible for developing our policy toward Bosnia need to understand the dynamics of the issue, its history, and the consequences of their actions or their inaction. Nationalism is apparent once more in the open fighting taking place in the various sectors of what was formerly Yugoslavia. The ethnic tensions and hatreds have emerged full-blown once more and have produced bitter and vicious fighting among the different ethnic factions. The Communist era never solved the ethnic problem. It only submerged it for a time under the weight of centralized control and central planning. The tensions always existed and continued to grow as each segment saw some other segment receiving what was perceived as favorable treatment or greater power. The social integration favored by Tito was no more than an illusion in Yugoslavia.
The first step toward the beginning of the war in Bosnia could be foreseen before fighting actually began:
The level of ethnic violence, which has been escalating relentlessly for several years, has now pushed Yugoslavia to the brink of civil war (Burg, 1991, 5).
Burg found that all East European countries faced certain common problems, but the multinational states have faced all these problems at the same time. Yugoslavia is thus not an isolated case but is only the worst case at present. The irony is that nationalism was one of the reasons why these nations were able to muster the wherewithal to oust the Communists when the opportunity presented itself, while now that same nationalism is tearing the countries apart and destroying millions of lives:
The emotional appeal and political power of nationalism helped to produce the extraordinary mass participation that led to the overthrow of Communist governments in the region. It contributes to the ongoing mobilization of popular p...