Reconsidering Bosnia-Herzegovina

James J. Sadkovich


Ownership of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as Dušan Bilandžić noted in December 1991, had been on the agenda since 1878. Occupied by Austria until the formation of Yugoslavia in 1918, the Karađorđević dynasty then gerrymandered it, first to guarantee Serbian majorities, then to defuse tensions between Croats and Serbs by partitioning the region between them. Under Tito, Bosnia-Herzegovina again became a unified polity, but as a buffer between Croatia and Serbia it was controlled by the central government from its formal resurrection in 1943 through the mid 1960s.[1]

Yet the turbulence of its recent history has not deterred many observers from insisting that Bosnia-Herzegovina had been a species of multicultural paradise. Why they did so is not clear. One explanation, excluding rank partisanship and simple dishonesty, is that scholars, politicians, and diplomats, like journalists, also move in packs, and so they notice only what the pack notices and conveniently forget where the pack has been. Another is what a colleague calls “the American fallacy,” which insists that scholars credit only the new, embracing the latest study or theory as relevant, if not true, and rejecting all earlier studies and theories as obsolete. A third is that, just as Sovietologists failed to predict the demise of the USSR and jettisoned earlier theories in favor of those which seemed to fit the new era, so did Yugoslav specialists scramble to find new theories to replace their earlier work.

But there were few Yugoslav specialists, so most commentators during the early 1990s were recent arrivals to the region and, like “parachute journalists,” their knowledge of its history and politics was sketchy. Most observers had limited access to information and many of them tailored the available information to fit their models or conform to policy imperatives. Finally, there was what might be termed the “Sarajevo effect.” Demographically, Bosnia’s capital was Muslim and Yugoslav, in much the same way that Belgrade was Serbian. In the city’s center, Muslims and Yugoslavs accounted for two-thirds of the population. Yugoslavs were almost three times as likely to live in large urban areas as in towns and villages; one in twelve Bosnian Yugoslavs lived in Sarajevo.[2] Just as the Serbian population in Belgrade tended to expose diplomats and journalists to Serbian culture and opinions to the exclusion of those of other nationalities, the Muslim and Yugoslav populations in Sarajevo seem to have had a similar effect on foreign observers between 1991 and 1995. The resulting image of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and of the relationship which Croatia and Serbia had to it, tended to be simple, incomplete, and misleading.

* * *

Most observers agree that between 1992 and 1995 the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina involved three distinct but overlapping phases, one which pitted Croatian and Muslim forces against Serbian forces, another which saw Muslims and Croats fight each other as Serbian forces sought to consolidate and extend their earlier gains, and a third which found Croatian and Muslim armies again united against Serbian forces, this time with the support of members of the international community.[3] But why Bosnia-Herzegovina suffered such a violent disintegration remains a subject for debate. Some observers have discerned trends favoring the emergence of a cosmopolitan polity in the unfortunate republic.[4] Others believe Bosnia-Herzegovina rests on a civilizational fault line, its history characterized by religious separatism and political intolerance. It is also possible to see the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina as one of the countryside against the city.[5] Some, like Naza Tanović-Miller, argue that Bosnia’s problems were caused by outsiders like Radovan Karadžić, who was “not a real Bosnian,” but a Montenegrin “from a family of Chetniks” which had a “murderous past.”[6] Locating the causes of the conflict in Belgrade and Zagreb rather than Sarajevo, as she did, exempted the Bosnian government from responsibility for the chaos which befell the former Yugoslav republic and laid the blame for aggression on Bosnia’s Serbs and Croats. Those commentators and scholars who embrace this interpretation blame Yugoslavia’s collapse on Croatian and Serbian nationalists and usually subscribe to the theory that the meeting between Franjo Tuđman and Slobodan Milošević at Karađorđevo in March 1991 caused and determined the course of Yugoslavia’s wars.[7]

Burg and Shoup stake out a middle ground by asserting that the region was a “segmented society” which functioned despite its “violent history” and became unstable once its Yugoslav “civic culture” disappeared.[8] Their position echoes the argument made by a number of writers, including Bogdan Denitch, who asserted that Bosnia, like Yugoslavia, had been evolving toward a synthetic “Yugoslav” nationality.[9] Such positions were usually adopted to rationalize the actions of one of the actors or to argue that the real problem was nationalism per se, not a particular variant. Variations on this theme included polemical arguments that some small nations are not viable, that some nationalisms are inherently democratic (Serbian) and others basically fascist (Croatian), and that nations experiencing civil strife had “failed” and needed to be treated as colonial subjects.[10]

None of these interpretations is entirely convincing. There were indications that some individuals and groups were moving toward a Yugoslav identity and that past differences based on national identity had been eroded, but there was also evidence that national identity remained strong and continued to determine social status, political access, and economic well-being for both individuals and groups.[11] Those who considered nationalism an archaic remnant of a pre-postmodern world ignored such realities or distinguished “good” (“Bosnian”) from “bad” (Croatian or Serbian) nationalism. Tanović-Miller was typical in this respect, blaming Croatian and Serbian nationalists for all of Bosnia’s problems but viewing Alija Izetbegović and the SDA as guilty only of the venial sin of naiveté. She insists that, unlike the Croatian government, the Bosnian government had not “provoked” its Serbs; problems arose only as a result of “myths and brainwashing” by Serbian and Croatian nationalists.[12] Perhaps, but Tanović-Miller was a member of a small, cosmopolitan elite, not unlike intellectuals in every country; there is little evidence most Bosnians were so open-minded.

Those who believed that Bosnia’s nationalities were merging into a “Yugoslav” nationality present little but anecdotal evidence and a slight increase in the absolute number of “Yugoslavs” in the census. Historically, the effort to create “Yugoslavs” did not fare well. King Alexander, who dominated Yugoslav politics from its creation in 1918 until his assassination in 1934, failed to impose a Yugoslav identity on his subjects in the early 1930s, and at the VIII Party Congress in 1964, Tito chided those who “confuse the unity of nations with the liquidation of nations.” He compared efforts to create an “integral Yugoslav nation” to forced “assimilation and bureaucratic centralism, to unitarism and hegemony.” The SKJ (Savez Komunista Jugoslavije), he declared, should promote the “flowering of all our national cultures” rather than “bourgeois” or “bureaucratic” nationalism disguised as Yugoslavism.[13] Although the Yugoslav republics became nationalist weed-beds after Tito’s death, many observers continued to insist that Bosnia-Herzegovina was a viable multinational state.[14]

There was also a tendency after 1991 to accept the definition of Muslims as a separate nationality by those who had previously questioned the legitimacy of such a definition and discerned dangers associated with the creation of a Muslim nation. Yet so long as Muslims were not “a separate nationality,” they were under pressure to opt for a Croatian or a Serbian nationality, as Croatian and Serbian nationalists, both bourgeois and socialist, contested control of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1969, two years before they officially achieved national status, Wayne Vucinich saw Muslims as “something approximating a nation,” noting that to define them as such was one way out of the conundrum created when the SKJ rejected a “Yugoslav” nationality.[15] But defining Muslim as a “national” category just transferred the struggle for Bosnia from Serbia and Croatia to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the three nationalities vied for control after 1971, two with backing from the governments of other republics, the third with the support of coreligionists in Yugoslavia. To declare Muslims a nationality merely complicated the problem because national identity continued to define one’s place socially, economically, politically and territorially.

Given such conundrums and such conflicting evidence, it is probably prudent to conclude that the wars on the territory of the former Yugoslavia were not caused by “ancient hatreds” but also that the “ethnic” polarization evident in the early 1990s was not merely the result of recent events, but of long-term historical and cultural developments which contributed to the polarization and mutual distrust of Bosnia’s three constituent peoples. Certainly, World War II,[16] as Serbian spokesmen insisted, was one of these events, but so too were the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918,[17] the interwar period,[18] Alexander’s short-lived dictatorship,[19] the “Croatian Spring,”[20] and the failure to restructure the Yugoslav state in 1991.[21] Viewing Bosnia’s collapse as a complex event which was shaped by multiple forces might not satisfy those who prefer simple explanations derived from models of ideal philosophical positions, but it seems the most realistic approach to the events of the early 1990s.


For five centuries, Bosnia was the buffer zone between Croatia and Serbia, and for a century its peoples and territories were contested by Croatian and Serbian nationalists. By 1990, Branka Magaš believed its best hope lay in the resurrection of the “traditional coalition” of Muslims and Croats, hardly an encouraging prognosis, since it presupposed ethnic polarization as a given.[22]

There was a culture of tolerance and diversity in Bosnia-Herzegovina, rooted in the millet system and idealized in the concepts of jugoslavenstvo (Yugoslavism) and bratstvo i jedinstvo (brotherhood and unity). But this culture was severely circumscribed and appears to have existed primarily in large urban areas. Bosnians of different religions may have on occasion shared the same zadruga and lived in the same villages, but they lived their lives apart and nursed images of each other as essentially different.[23] If not as bleak as Ivo Andrić’s vision,[24] the dominant culture in provincial towns and villages tended to be segregated and parochial. Urban culture may have promoted ethnic integration, particularly among elites, but rural culture provided fertile ground for demagogues and ethnic conflict.[25]

Scholars have tended to list only Serbs and Croats among the demagogues, but Muslim leaders also appealed to ethnic and religious identity as preceding or identical with allegiance to Bosnia.[26] Neither position was conducive to cooperation with the republic’s Serbs and Croats. Ante Prkacin, a Bosnian Croat critical of Croatian policy, recalled that if Muslims and Croatians had not been hostile to one another before the war, neither were their relations “warm” [srdačni].[27] Ivan Lovrenović, born in Croatia and raised in Bosnia, left the Sarajevo suburb of Grbavica because he feared Serb nationalists; two years later, a refugee in Sarajevo, he fled to Zagreb.[28] By August 1993, Gojko Berić, a Muslim reporter for the Sarajevo newspaper Oslobođenje, was certain that “everyone hates everyone.”[29] Certainly, Mehmed Alagić, the commander of the Muslim Third Corps in Central Bosnia, distrusted and disliked Croats, even as allies.[30]

Warren Zimmermann, the last U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia, claimed that Bosnia’s Serbs “had an understandable grievance” and truly feared a “Muslim-dominated state,” and he suggested that Alija Izetbegović was a dangerous, if neurotic, Muslim fundamentalist.[31] Other authors, primarily Serbian, argued that the emergence of radical Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina posed a danger to the region’s non-Muslims.[32] Like Bosnia’s Serbs, its Croats were concerned that the disparity between Muslim and Christian fertility rates would give the former a majority within a generation. They were also upset that Alija Izetbegović negotiated with Serbian, not Croatian leaders,[33] and angered by the SDA leader’s apparently dismissive attitude toward the war in Croatia, even as Serbian forces used Bosnian territory as a staging and transit area for attacks on Croatia.[34] But commentators ignored or dismissed Croatian concerns as the product of nationalist bias, especially after Croatian proposals that a “humane” transfer of population might help avert war.[35] Serbian concerns, particularly after the occupation of a quarter of Croatia by the JNA and Serbian irregulars, were also dismissed. But if they reflected nationalist biases, their concerns were not baseless.[36]

Writing on the eve of the war, John Allcock, who later testified for the prosecution at the ICTY in The Hague, cautioned that the consequences would be serious should Yugoslavia’s Muslims “strive to reintegrate their broader cultural identity with Islam.”[37] David Rieff, whose sympathies lay with Bosnia’s Muslims, concluded that prior to 1992, SDA leaders, including Alija Izetbegović and Haris Silajdžić, were not committed to the ideals of multiculturalism.[38] Adil Zulfikarpašić broke with Izetbegović and formed his own party because the SDA had become too religiously oriented, as did Fikret Abdić, who received more votes for the Presidency than the SDA leader.[39] But if he espoused liberal principles, Zulfikarpašić also distrusted the West. While he considered Croats to be “natural allies” against the Serbs, as Westerners he saw them as potential enemies. Critical of Izetbegović’s passive and accommodating policy toward the JNA and the Bosnian SDS, Zulfikarpašić still considered the SDA leader a politician who kept his options open, including the inclusion of an autonomous Bosnia in a rump Yugoslavia.[40]

So Izetbegović appears not to have been a passive victim of shrewd and unscrupulous Croatian and Serbian politicians. As early as 1986, he had met with Dobriša Ćosić and other Serbs to discuss a Yugoslavia without Croats, and in March 1991, he rejected a proposal from Franjo Tuđman and Milan Kučan to reorganize Yugoslavia as a confederation.[41] In June, Muhamed Filipović alarmed Muslims when he told the Serbian magazine, Vreme, that Tuđman had agreed to divide Bosnia with Milošević, and as the JNA and Serbian forces attacked Croatia from bases in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the summer, Izetbegović negotiated with Karadžić and Milošević. Zulfikarpašić recalled the talks with the Serbs as “a sensation,” openly discussed in the media and condemned by Bosnia’s Croats, who saw themselves paying the cost of a Muslim-Serb alliance.[42] Izetbegović’s actions led Franjo Tuđman to insist that the SDA leader bore much of the blame for Yugoslavia’s dissolution, the Serbian attack on Croatia, and the war in Bosnia.[43]

By mid-1991, ethnic polarization in Bosnia-Herzegovina was complete. Izetbegovic had ensured a stalemate by refusing to support Croat and Slovene proposals for a confederation and instead talking to Serbs and Montenegrins. Bosnia’s Serbs had set up their SARs and threatened to secede should the government in Sarajevo declare independence; the Croats had contingency plans should Bosnia fall apart; and the Muslims, like the Croats and Serbs, were preparing maps of their ideal Bosnia.[44] There was little likelihood that the traditional Croat-Muslim alliance would be resurrected. Nor was this surprising, since the alliance had always been something of a myth.


Prior to 1878, Bosnia-Herzegovina was a military frontier with a feudal structure, its 39 hereditary fiefs a mirror image of the Military Frontier in Croatia-Slavonia. During the 1850s, as the old system of ziamets and timars degenerated, the economic obligations of Bosnia’s peasantry increased and their personal security and independence declined. Conservative and autocratic, Bosnia’s Muslim elite were anti-Western and hostile toward reforms coming from Istanbul. Following resistance to reform by Bosnia’s Muslim landlords, who imposed an increasingly onerous regime on the region’s serfs, Bosnia’s Christians first appealed to foreign governments for protection, then revolted in 1875, giving Austria a pretext to intervene and occupy the region.[45]

Austrian occupation relieved the worst abuses of the Ottoman system, but the Austrians preserved the existing order, which favored Muslim landlords, not Christian serfs. Like Belgrade in 1971, Vienna sought to parry claims by Croat and Serb nationalists by creating a new Bošnjak nationality based on the region’s Muslims. Austrian policies thus strengthened the link between national and agrarian questions, and they kept Bosnia’s ethnic groups apart. When political parties formed, they were organized along national and confessional lines, with Orthodox Serbs looking to Belgrade and Catholic Croats to Zagreb. When forced to choose between a Croatian or a Serbian identity, most educated Muslims, repulsed by the anti-Islamic character of Serbian nationalism, opted for a Croatian affiliation because at least Croatian nationalists embraced Bosnia’s Muslims as “the purest Croatians.” But most Muslims simply took refuge in their religion and their past.[46]

Such a history did not create warm feelings among Bosnia’s ethnic groups.[47] At best, Croats and Serbs competed to claim the region’s Muslims as members of their own ethnic group, rather than seeking an alliance of equals. At worst, the three groups resorted to violence to claim or hold territory. Following the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, Muslims and Croats attacked Serbian businesses and cultural institutions. During the war, Croats and Muslims enjoyed a privileged position, but after Serbian forces had occupied Bosnia in 1918, Serbs attacked Muslims, both landlords and small holders, many of whom fled to Turkey. Those who stayed behind organized the JMO to defend all Muslims, regardless of class.[48]

Islam had become a marker for nationality, to the disappointment of Stjepan Radić and other Croatian politicians. Like Franjo Tuđman a half century later,[49] Radić believed that Bosnia-Herzegovina would gravitate to Croatia and Slovenia. During the Paris Peace Conference he had requested the right to self-determination for Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia. He considered most Muslims to be ethnic Croatians and counted JMO deputies as if they were Croatian. In 1920, he hoped Bosnia would join Slovenia and Croatia in a “federated peasant republic of Yugoslavia.”[50]

But this did not happen. Instead, Bosnia-Herzegovina’s peasants were disenfranchised, impoverished, and manipulated by appeals to religious affiliation. Upper-class Muslims who had welcomed the Serbian army as a force which would protect them against the lower classes were quickly disabused of their illusions. Within months, Serbian attacks on Muslims of all classes and the removal of Muslims and Croats from government posts provoked numerous protests by both nationalities. The struggle between Muslim landowners and Orthodox peasants took on religious and national overtones as the former sought to win the Muslim peasantry to their side, arguing that all Muslims must band together to defend themselves.

Land reform eventually dispossessed 4,000 Muslim families and benefited 113,103, mostly Christian, families of former serfs and 54,728 tenant farmers, as well as 13,806 families headed by Serbian veterans settled as colonists.[51] Serbian paramilitary forces attacked both Muslims and Croats, who responded with their own armed formations. By 1919 the region appeared to be on the verge of civil war. An official inquiry documented fifty attacks on Muslims during a single three-month period, and in October the Croatian Union (Hrvatska Zajednica), a coalition of Croatian liberals, and the JMO (Yugoslav Muslim Organization/Jugoslavenska Muslimanska Organizacija) petitioned the central government to restore order.[52]

Most Muslim deputies and some Muslim intellectuals declared themselves to be “Croatian” or Muslims who spoke “Croatian,” but the JMO did not ally itself with Radić’s HSS, and many educated Muslims jettisoned their prewar Bošnjak identity in favor of Yugoslavism, which served as a protective ideological coloration and enabled them, in Höpken’s words, to “withdraw into a kind of isolated autarky formed around mosque, cultural center, and YMO [JMO].”[53] But if Muslims paid lip-service to the concept of a unified Yugoslav state, the JMO’s existed to defend the rights of Bosnia’s Muslims, and it used Islam, not jugoslovenstvo, to mobilize them.[54]

Serbian politicians attacked the JMO as a feudal anachronism espousing the Koran, but like most parties in the new state, it was linked to a particular group identified by confession, location, and ethnicity.[55] Its leaders asserted a national “individuality” based on religious, historical, social, and cultural traditions. They supported “full equality of rights for the three peoples” of Bosnia-Herzegovina and evoked jugoslovenstvo to demand “equality” (jedinstvenstvo) for Muslims and guarantees for the Islamic faith and its institutions. Like the SDA seventy years later, the JMO reached out to Muslims throughout Yugoslavia, urging Albanian and Turkish Muslims not to emigrate to Turkey and appealing to the Muslims in Sandžak and Montenegro as “blood of our blood” (krv naše krvi). In 1923, the party established the cultural organization Narodna Uzdanica to reinforce and ensure Muslim solidarity by educating Muslim youth in a “true national sense” and promoting pride in Muslim history and institutions. Like the HSS, the JMO controlled financial and commercial organizations, but unlike the Croatian party, whose anticlerical bias prevented it from cooperating with the Catholic Church, the Muslim organization was influential in Muslim religious societies. The JMO dominated political life in Bosnia-Herzegovina and helped to develop and promote a distinctly Muslim consciousness.[56]

In 1921, Mehmet Spaho and his party sided with the ruling Serbian parties, providing crucial support for the new constitution, but the following year, Belgrade jettisoned the JMO in favor of its own creation, the JMNO (Jugoslavenska muslimanska narodna organizacija). During the 1923 campaign, the party again appealed to Islamic solidarity, warning that the “existence” (opstanak) of Bosnia’s Muslims was at stake and those who did not vote for them committed an “unpardonable sin before God and before the nation, for which posterity would damn them.”[57] Few Muslims sinned, and the JMO again carried their vote in Bosnia, just as the SLS (Slovenska Ludska Stranka) and the HRSS did the Catholic vote in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia.[58] The three parties formed a short-lived prečani front, but after Radić recognized the regime in 1925, the JMO again found itself isolated and under attack from the Serbian press, Serbian and Yugoslav paramilitary formations, and the government-supported JMNO.[59]

In 1926, Belgrade enlisted Muslim youth in the paramilitary formation Osman Đikić, the nom de guerre of the Serbian King, Peter, and the following year, it joined Srnao (Srpska nacionalna omladina) in an attempt on Spaho’s life. Both groups clashed regularly with JMO members and Hanao (Hrvatska narodna omladina), the youth arm of the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP, Hrvatska stranka prava). The virulence of the attacks by Osman Đikić, Srnao, Orjuna (Organizacija jugoslavenskih omladina), and Serbian Chetnik organizations on Muslim, Croatian, and even moderate Serbian politicians and organizations made the ethnically mixed areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Vojvodina the sites of the worst political violence in interwar Yugoslavia.[60]

After a poor showing the elections of 1927, Spaho again joined a Serbian-led government, as Svetozar Pribićević took Croatia’s Serbs out of the Democratic Party and into a coalition with Stjepan Radić’s Peasant Party.[61] For the first time, the JMO declared itself a Bosnian, not a Muslim or a Yugoslav party. In 1928, although under attack from both Croatian and Serbian politicians, the party still polled 97 percent of Bosnia’s Muslim vote.[62] Following Serbian threats to “amputate” Croatia and partition Bosnia-Herzegovina, Radić hoped Bosnia’s Muslims would turn toward Croatia, but Spaho chose to collaborate with the government in Belgrade and evidently supported the amputation of Croatia in order to maintain Bosnia-Herzegovina intact, a choice reminiscent of Izetbegović’s decision to seek an accommodation with Serbia in the summer of 1991.[63]

Alexander subsequently banned all ethnic parties, organized a Yugoslav party, and split Bosnia-Herzegovina into three banovine, all with Serbian majorities, forcing Muslim leaders to use the cultural organization Narodna Uzdanica as a political vehicle. Spaho began to rebuild the JMO in 1931, briefly supported the opposition, but then joined Milan Stojadinović’s Serbian-dominated government in 1937. Stojadinović recruited Muslims for ministerial posts to give his government the appearance of a Yugoslav coalition, and Spaho accepted a vice-presidency in the government-supported JRZ (Jugoslavenska radikalna stranka). Stojadinović moved Belgrade closer to Rome, and he adopted a number of fascist trappings, including the use of the term “vođa” (Duce/ Führer) and a party shirt. In 1938, Spaho opened a JRZ rally in Bijeljina by thanking Stojadinović, “our Leader” (Vođa), for having brought Yugoslavia peace and stability, but he resigned in February 1939 over the creation of a Croatian banovina. [64]

If Spaho and the JMO appear to have been political opportunists, their “precarious situation” in interwar Yugoslavia left them few choices. Bosnia’s Muslims had been dispossessed, reduced to an impotent minority, demeaned and stereotyped as “lazy, fatalistic, and homosexual” Asians, a process of dehumanization similar to that suffered by Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo during the early 1990s at the hands of Serbian propagandists.[65] If threatened by the excesses of Serbian nationalists, Muslim leaders cooperated with Serbian politicians in order to ameliorate the repression exercised by Belgrade. They were clearly not the “natural” allies of the Croats, and while the creation of the Croatian Banovina in August 1939 helped to stabilize Croatian-Serbian relations, it triggered protests from the JMO, which did not want Bosnia-Herzegovina partitioned. But even foreign observers, while acknowledging the plight of the Muslims, saw them as either ethnic Serbs or ethnic Croats, and thus part of the “Croatian question,” which dominated interwar Yugoslav politics.[66] Like everyone else, in 1939 the Croatians assumed that “Croatian” and “Serbian” Muslims would simply make their peace with the partition of Bosnia into Croatian and Serbian areas.

The JMO was a byproduct of Serbian-Croatian competition and rejected the concept of “national unity” (narodno jedinstvo) in favor of a pragmatic approach to politics that stressed the need for Muslim unity in state dominated by a Serbian elite which had defined Muslims as the quintessential “other” from the formation of the Serbian state.[67] When Ante Pavelić created his Independent State of Croatia (NDH, Nezavisna Država Hrvatska), he kept the Muslims powerless but gave them a place of honor, while Serbian Chetniks tried to destroy them. Consequently, Muslims joined the Croatian Army (Domobranstvo) or the German-sponsored SS Handžar Division; few fought with the Partisans, and there were none in the Yugoslav government-in-exile.[68]

All authors agree that Bosnia-Herzegovina was a killing-field during World War II. But because the emphasis is on the Ustaša, not the Chetniks or the Partisans, it is not clear from most discussions of World War II that the killing was done not only by Croatians serving in Ustaša and Domobran units, but also by Serbs, Muslims, and Partisans of all nationalities, as well as by members of the Axis armed forces.[69] In June 1941, Stevan Moljević, a member of the Executive Council of the Chetnik Central National Committee, outlined a plan for an ethnically homogeneous Serbia and the expulsion of 2.7 million non-Serbs and the settlement of Serbians in areas with mixed populations, as well as in Croatian and Muslim areas, including the communities of Gospić, Pakrac, Banja Luka, Osijek, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, Dubrovnik, and Nova Gradiška—territories occupied by Serbian forces in 1991 and areas which would have stayed in Serbia had Belgrade carried through on its threat to “amputate” Croatia in 1928. Živko Topalović, President of the Yugoslav National Democratic Union, declared “Anti-Croatianism, anti-Moslemism, and anti-Yugoslavism” to be “the ideology of the Serbian Chetniks,” an ideology tacitly supported by the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Yugoslav government-in-exile, which suppressed news of atrocities committed by Serbian forces and played up Croatian and Muslim collaboration with the Axis.[70]

As part of his effort to attract Muslim support, on April 25, 1941, Ante Pavelić wrote the reis-ul-ulema that he wished “to see Muslims free, equal, content, and at home in the free and Independent State of Croatia.” On August 14, Džafer Kulenović and a delegation of JMO leaders met with Pavelić and declared their support for the new state. Ustaša ideologues declared Muslims to be the “purest Croatians” and praised Islam for preserving the purest of Croatian bloodlines. The regime also built a monumental mosque in Zagreb, disbanded the pro-Serbian cultural organization Gajret, and lent its support to Narodna uzdanica, the JMO’s cultural arm. A Muslim held the office of Vice-President of the NDH until the regime’s collapse in 1945, and Muslims occupied various positions in government. But not all Muslims rallied to the NDH, and violence against Serbs by both Croatian and Muslim units disillusioned members of the Muslim elite, who protested a policy which they saw inciting racial hatred and opening Muslims to Serbian retaliation.[71]

There are no precise figures regarding how many people died in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, but Bogoljub Kočović and Vladimir Žerjavić have reached a rough consensus. Žerjavić estimates that 316,000 people perished in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, including 174,000 civilians (of whom 89,000 died in camps), 70,000 collaborators, and 72,000 combatants. Bosnia-Herzegovina suffered the highest number and the highest percentage of war deaths in Yugoslavia because it hosted the most intense and prolonged fighting in a struggle which saw Serbian Chetniks kill Croats and Muslims, Muslim and Croat Ustaša and Domobran forces kill Serbs and Partisans, and Partisans kill those who collaborated with the Axis, regardless of nationality.[72]

The Partisans sought to defuse ethnic competition in Bosnia-Herzegovina by creating a multinational republic in 1945 and then conferring the status of nationality upon Yugoslavia’s Muslims in 1971. The new definition of Muslims as a nation elevated them to equal status with the region’s Serbs and Croats, encouraged scholarly research, and triggered a surge of Muslim nationalism, which included some myth-making that alarmed both the Yugoslav regime and some Western scholars.[73] But Bosnia’s history suggested that efforts to impose “brotherhood and unity” were unlikely to be more than superficially successful, and prior to 1966, rather than equitable treatment for all citizens, the regime sought to Serbianize ethnically mixed areas and systematically persecuted Croats. The Sarajevo daily Oslobođenje, whose editorial board was dominated by Muslims and Serbs prior to 1989 and by the SDA after 1990, was generally hostile to Croatian interests. Croatians were under-represented on editorial boards and in the media, on the judiciary, and among public prosecutors. Although Croats comprised 21.7 percent of the republic’s population, they accounted for only 12.7 percent of the membership of the Bosnian Party.[74]

By both Serbianizing Bosnia-Herzegovina and creating a Muslim nationality, Tito’s regime further divided the republic’s nationalities and transferred the struggle for Bosnia from Belgrade and Zagreb to Sarajevo. The transformation occurred during a period of history which saw the consolidation of Muslim states, the assertion of Palestinian nationalism, and the emergence of fundamentalist Islamic movements abroad. The result, according to the pro-Serbian writer Nora Beloff, was the penetration of Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1970s and early 1980s by an “Islamic fundamentalism” which attracted Muslim intellectuals and led to a new fascination with Islam. If not “fundamentalism,” certainly a Muslim “nationalism” was evident; even Adil Zulfikarpašić announced that Muslim intellectuals could “go back to their roots and identify with the Moslem masses.”[75]

Although Wayne Vucinich considered Muslims to have become a “problem” by 1969 owing to their anti-Serbian attitudes,[76] Beloff’s conclusion is overdrawn. Yet it is clear that many of the future leaders of the SDA, including Alija Izetbegović, were influenced by the affirmation of a Muslim alternative to the West and that the freedom to be Muslim led intellectuals to embrace a Muslim identity. This was certainly true for Muhamed Filipović, whose reassessment of Marxism cost him his job and invited attacks from both Sarajevo’s Oslobođenje and Belgrade’s NIN, which denounced him as anti-Serbian and pro-Croatian. Like Izetbegović, he was also accused of being a “fundamentalist,” but in the early 1990s, he found himself on the outside because he considered the SDA too Islamic. He subsequently joined Zulfikarpašić to create a liberal, secular, “Bosnian” party, which failed to attract even a tenth of the vote.[77]

The communist regime had sought to create a “Muslim national identity,” not an Islamic revival that would lead Yugoslavia’s Muslims to identify with Islam as the basis for a new political order. When Alija Izetbegović suggested that Muslims should work to reshape civil society according to Islamic principles because “there is no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and other non-Islamic social and political systems,” the regime put him in jail.[78] The dilemma for Muslims was suggested by Izetbegović in an interview in 1994. “By faith,” he said, “we are Eastern (istočnjaci), by education we are Europeans.” So the heart of a Muslim looked East, his mind West, which for those who were honest involved a basic question of identity. The ideal resolution to this dilemma, he concluded, was to unite the religious and the secular and build a strong party. But his declaration a year later that “Free people are in reality the slaves of freedom” suggested a less than democratic worldview, nor could his declaration that Bosnia was the “promised land” of Muslims have reassured Bosnia’s Croats and Serbs.[79]

Claims like those put forward by Izetbegović evoked images of an Islamic republic and conjured up the stereotype of the Muslim as fundamentalist, leading the Croatian economist, Branko Horvat, to suggested replacing the term “Muslim” with “Bosnian” to avoid adding to inter-ethnic tension in Bosnia. But neither Croats nor Serbs were comfortable redefining themselves only as Bosnians, and both groups rejected the use of the term for the republic’s Muslims because it would have effectively identified them with Bosnia-Herzegovina. The question of Muslim identity, as Sabrina Ramet has explained, was vexed. Some Muslims viewed themselves as “Muslim Croats” or “Muslim Serbs, others as “Bosnian Muslims” or simply “Muslims.” A small minority identified themselves as “atheist Muslims” or “Yugoslavs.”[80] But if Muslim identity was a vexed question, so was the fate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and there was no more consensus among Muslims about how to resolve it than there was among Croats and Serbs.[81]

But there was a consensus of sorts during the 1990 elections. The three “national” parties took 85.1 percent of the vote, confirming a high degree of ethnic polarization in the republic: the SDA won 35.8 percent and 86 seats in Parliament; the SDS 30.5 percent and 72 seats; and the HDZ 18.3 percent and 44 seats. Only the HDZ appears to have had some transnational appeal, given that the Muslim and Serbian parties fell short of their relative percentage of the population, but the Croatian party won roughly a percentage point more, representing about 40,000 Bosnians.[82] But with 44 seats, the HDZ could not control the government in Sarajevo, nor could the SDA with 86. They faced a similar dilemma to that which they had encountered when Yugoslavia was originally formed. Like the HSS, the HDZ could ally itself with one of the larger parties or remain isolated and impotent. So the pattern of interwar Bosnian elections and politics was repeated in 1990.

The relative percentages of population were also similar to those in the 1920s and 1930s, but this time it was the Muslims, not the Serbs, who held the plurality. When Izetbegovic and SDA leaders demanded a majoritarian political system, they were ignoring the outcome of the 1990 elections. Bosnians had voted as members of groups, not as individuals. A majoritarian system can only work in polities that do not practice ethnic politics, where people vote as individuals, not as groups. When Muslims began to identify Bosnia-Herzegovina as “their state,” Bosnia’s Croats became alarmed.[83] Because their experience in Yugoslavia had been so bitterly disappointing, Bosnia’s Croats opposed the creation of a unitary Bosnian state which seemed a miniature of the old Yugoslavia, complete with a hegemonic plurality. The Muslims, who were already 44% of the population and had the highest birth rate in the republic. Given Izetbegović’s earlier writings and the Muslim nature of the SDA, a certain amount of unease among the Croats was to be expected, especially since, as David Rieff noted, the SDA had not been “as committed as it should have been to a multicultural Bosnia” until the war forced it to be. Even then, the party had its “fundamentalists” and “young fanatics who insisted on saying ‘Es-salaam aleikum’ instead of ‘dobar dan’ (good day), and proclaiming themselves mujahedin…”[84]

It seems clear that Bosnia-Herzegovina was not a multicultural paradise prior to 1991, nor after. It was a battleground on which party leaders mobilized their co-nationalists, alliances constantly shifted, and each nationality pursued its own interests and illusions. Bosnia’s history made mistrust of other nationalities prudent, and it was not surprising that its peoples distrusted one another in 1991. What is surprising is that Western scholars who knew better jettisoned history in favor of an ideal vision of Yugoslavia and Bosnia, a vision which distorted current realities and precluded an informed policy.


[1] Dušan Bilandžić, Propast Jugoslavije i stvaranje moderne Hrvatske. Eseji, članci, interviewi, analize, izvješća, izjave (Zagreb: AGM, 2001), p. 153–4.

[2] Bosnia’s five largest municipalities (Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zenica, Tuzla, and Mostar) had a quarter of the republic’s population, but sixty percent of Bosnia’s Yugoslavs. The republic’s ten largest municipalities (adding Doboj, Prijedor, Bijeljina, Brčko, and Zvornik) had 36.8 percent of Bosnia’s population but 64.7 percent of its Yugoslavs. See Franjo Marić, Pregled pučanstva Bosne i Hercegovine izemeđu 1879. i 1995. godine (s detaljnim pregledom pučanstva žepačkog kraja iz srednje Bosne) (Zagreb: Katehetski Salezijanski Centar, 1996), pp. 224-35. The municipality (općina) of Sarajevo counted 259,000 Muslims (49.3 percent), 157,526 Serbs (30 percent), 56,048 Yugoslavs (10.7 percent), and just 34,867 Croats (6.6 percent). In the city’s center, Croats accounted for 5,411 (6.8 percent) of the population, Muslims for 39,686 (50.2 percent), Serbs (21.1 percent), and Yugoslavs 12,960 (16.4 percent). The disproportionate number of Yugoslavs in the center might be one of the reasons that so many foreign observers and scholars came away with the illusion that Bosnia was a multicultural, cosmopolitan society.

[3] The war was fought by the Muslim-controlled Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina (ARBiH), the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), supported by the Croatian Army (HV), and the Army of the Republic of Serbia (ARS), aided by Serbian forces from Croatia.

[4] The most influential were Robert J. Donia and John V. A. Fine, Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed (New York: Columbia UP, 1994), and Noel Malcolm, Bosnia. A Short History (New York: New York University Press, 1994).

[5] The tendency for Yugoslavs to be overrepresented in larger urban areas suggests a cultural difference between city and countryside. Of the ten largest Bosnian municipalities, only two had Muslim majorities (Zenica and Zvornik), but in five, Muslims and Yugoslavs accounted for more than half the population (50.8 percent in Brčko, 59.9 percent in Sarajevo, 60.9 percent in Zvornik, 64.2 percent in Tuzla, and 66.0 percent in Zenica) and for a plurality in three (Mostar, 44.9 percent, Doboj, 45.7 percent, and Prijedor, 48.7 percent). Serbs had majorities in Banja Luka (54.8 percent to Muslim and Yugoslav shares of 14.6 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively) and Bijeljina (59.4 percent to Muslim and Yugoslav shares of 31.3 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. See Marić, Pregled Pučanstva, pp. 225–8. Also see Sabrina P. Ramet, "Nationalism and the 'Idiocy' of the Countryside: The Case of Serbia," Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (January 1996), pp. 70-87.

[6] Naza Tanović-Miller, Testimony of a Bosnian (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001), pp. 14–15, 32–5, 53–4, also blames Milorad Ekmečić, Biljana Plavšić, and Nikola Koljević.

[7] Discussion of the theory and its flaws is beyond the scope of this essay. Attila Hoare, "The Croatian Project to Partition Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1990-1994," East European Quarterly (March 1997) 31(1): 121-38, argues that such an agreement was concluded; Ivo Lučić, “Karađorđevo: politički mit ili dogovor?” Časopis za suvremenu povijest (2003): 7–36 is skeptical.

[8] Steven C. Burg and Paul S. Shoup, The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Ethnic Conflict and International Intervention (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1999), pp. 12, 20, 29–30, 34, equate Serbian and Croatian nationalism and note that Muslims were opposed to both.

[9] Bogdan Denitch, Ethnic Nationalism The Tragic Death of Yugoslavia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), passim. This argument ignores the decline of Yugoslavs as a percentage of Yugoslavia’s population from 5.76 percent in 1981 to 2.96 percent in 1991. As a percentage of Bosnia’s population, Yugoslavs fluctuated, falling from 8.4 percent in 1961 to 1.1 percent in 1971, then rising to 7.7 in 1981 before declining to 5.4 percent in 1991.

[10] For example, Gerald B. Helman and Steven R. Ratner, “Saving Failed States,” Foreign Policy (Winter 1992-93), advocate a paternalistic policy; Charles William Maynes, "Containing Ethnic Conflict," Foreign Policy (Winter 1992-93), a hard-headed one.

[11] Wayne S. Vucinich, ed., Contemporary Yugoslavia. Twenty Years sof Socialist Experiment (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), p. 268, noted “a certain degree of friction among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims over economic and political benefits.” Sabrina Ramet’s Balkan Babel. Politics, Culture, and Religion in Yugoslavia (Boulder: Westview Press, 1992), pp. 3–72, and Nationalism and Federalism in Yugoslavia, 1962-1991 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992), pp. 177–86, suggest that such friction persisted.

[12] Tanović-Miller, Testimony, pp. 11–14.

[13] Josip Broz Tito, The National Question (Belgrade: Socialist Thought and Practice, 1983), pp. 110–22.

[14] Terminology needs a separate discussion, but it is worth noting that “ethnic” has replaced “national,” just as “civil society” and “open society” have “democratic society.” The new terms tacitly reject nationalism as a concept; the nation as ethnic group has no claim to a state. The new terms also tacitly reject the European experience of building states defined as the homelands of territorially based and historically persistent nationalities. Instead, they imply an American multicultural approach, which defines a people in ethnic terms and advocates blending all ethnic groups into a homogenous civil society.

[15] Vucinich, Contemporary Yugoslavia, p. 276, saw Bosnian Muslims as “Islamicized Slavs.” A “Yugoslav” was a “new man,” a modernist concept embraced by King Alexander, who sought to preserve his dynasty, privilege Yugoslavia’s Serbs, and create a “new” “Yugoslav” man and nation through an essentially fascist dictatorship. See James J. Sadkovich, "Il regime di Alessandro in Iugoslavia: 1929-1934. Un'interpretazione," Storia contemporanea (Feb. 1984).

[16] See Jozo Tomašević, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: The Chetniks (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1975), and War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945: Occupation and Collaboration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001).

[17] Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1984), and Milada Paulova, Jugoslavnski Odbor. Povijest juoglsavenske emigracije za svjetskog rata od 1914 do 1918 (Zagreb: Prosvjeta, 1925) are basic; also useful are Dragovan Šepić, Italija, saveznici i jugoslavensko pitanje, 1914-1918 (Zagreb: Školska Knjiga, 1970) and Ivo J. Lederer, Yugoslavia at the Paris Peace Conference: A Study in Frontier Making (New Haven: Yale UP, 1963).

[18] Ferdo Čulinović’s two-volume work, Jugoslavija izmedju dva rata (Zagreb: JAZU, 1961), is dated but remains useful; also see Sabrina Ramet, The Three Yugoslavias: State Building and Legitimation, 1918–2004 (Bloomington, Ind./Washington, D.C.: Indiana University Press/The Wilson Center Press, in press), and John Lampe, Yugoslavia as History. Twice There was a Country (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996). Alex Dragnich, The First Yugoslavia. Search for a Viable Political System (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institute Pr., 1983), has a Serbian bias.

[19] Still useful is Nedim Šarac, Uspostavljanje šestojanuarskog režima 1929. godine sa posebnim osvrtom na Bosnu i Hercegovinu (Sarajevo: Svetlost, 1975).

[20] Bilandžić, Propast, p. 154, notes that the Bosnian leadership supported the suppression of the “Croatian Spring,” a critical event often ignored or dismissed, owing to the view of Croatian nationalism as destructive, e.g., Joseph Rothschild, Return to Diversity. A Political History of East Central Europe since World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 186, claims the Croatian reform movement was led by “emphatically centrifugal, ethnonationalistic, explicity anti-Serb, and implicitly anti-Yugoslav crypto-separatist nonparty forces.” Ante Čuvalo, The Croatian National Movement, 1966–1972 (Boulder, Colo.: East European Monographs, 1990), assigns it a major role in shaping Croatian consciousness, and Reneo Lukić and Allen Lynch, Europe from the Balkans to the Urals. The Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 381–2, believe its suppression cut channels of communication.

[21] Franjo Tuđman and Milan Kučan proposed restructuring Yugoslav as a confederation; Tuđman blamed the war on lack of support by Alija Izetbegović and the SDA. Franjo Tuđman, Hrvatska riječ svijetu: Razgovori sa stranim predstavnicima (Zagreb: Hrvatska sveučilišna naklada/Hrvastki institut za povijest, 1999), p. 232.

[22] Branka Magaš, The Destruction of Yugoslavia. Tracking the Break-Up, 1990–1992 (New York: Verso, 1993), pp. 226–7. Bilandžić, Propast, p. 314, notes that neither Serbs nor Croats tried very hard to win over the Muslims, preferring to deal with each other.

[23] Halpern in Vucinich, Contemporary Yugoslavia, pp. 330–2, and pp. 341–2, for different illustrations in Croatian and Bosnian primers for the sound “dž” which suggest different perceptions of Islam and Muslims. For the persistence and separateness of Muslim culture from Catholic and Orthodox, see Munevera Hadžišehović, A Muslim Woman in Tito’s Yugoslavia (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2003), passim, and Tanović–Miller, Testimony, pp. 16, 168–80.

[24] Ivo Andrić, “Pismo iz 1920. godine,” in Sabrana djela Ivo Andrića (Sarajevo, 1988), pp. 180, 182, 185, 187.

[25] Wolfgang Höpken, “Yugoslavia’s Communists and the Bosnian Muslims,” in Andreas Kappeler, Gerhard Simon, Georg Brunner, and Edward Allworth, eds., Muslim Communities Reemerge. Historical Perspectives on Nationality Politics, and Opposition in the Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (Durham: Duke UP, 1994), p. 236–7, adduces mixed marriages and the effect of urban living on social values and religious identity to explain why urban areas had relatively high numbers of “Yugoslavs” and rural areas remained ethnically segregated. In Raju G.C. Thomas and H. Richard Friman, The South Slav Conflict. History, Religion, Ethnicity, and Nationalism (New York: Garland, 1996), p. 123, Janusz Bugajski writes that Bosnia was “far from being an inter-ethnic utopia or even a gently simmering melting pot. The three communities, particularly outside the major cities, continued to define themselves principally according to their ethno-religious heritage rather than as Bosnians or Yugoslavs.”

[26] W. Raymond Duncan and G. Paul Holman, Jr., eds., Ethnic Nationalism and Regional Conflict. The Former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), pp. 25–33, thought both Croatians and Bosnian Muslims insufficiently sensitive to Serbian fears of neo-Ustaša and Muslim fundamentalists. Mark Thompson, A Paper House. The Ending of Yugoslavia (London: Vintage, 1992), pp. 98–103, believed Muslims voted for Izetbegović’s SDA, not Adil Zulfikarpašić’s liberal party, because “it championed their national interest.”

[27] Ante Prkacin to Davor Butković, Globus, 7 May 1993.

[28] Ivan Lovrenović to Vukov Ćolić, Vijenac, 1 September 1994.

[29] Gojko Berić, “Carstvo mržnje,” Oslobođenje, 29 Aug. 1993, in Sarajevo. Na kraju svijeta (Sarajevo: Oslobođenje, 1994), pp. 98–101, saw hatred as the “sad consequence” of the war. “During the tempestuous centuries of Muslims, Serbs, Croats, and Jews living together,” he noted, “there had been, certainly, outpourings of hatred, but there had been much more love and tolerance.”

[30] Nežad Latić and Zehrudin Isaković, Ratna sjećanja Mehmeda Alagića. Rat u Srednoj Bosni (Zenica: Bemust, 1997), pp. 18, 23, 45, 69.

[31] Warren Zimmermann, Origins of a Catastrophe. Yugoslavia and its Destroyers. America’s Last Ambassador Tells What Happened and Why (New York: Time Books/Random House, 1996), pp. 39, 114–115, 196, characterized Izetbegović as perpetually anxious, overly deferential, and, like Tuđman and Šešelj, a nationalist “convicted of sowing ethnic hatred.”

[32] Alexandre Popovic, “Islamic Movements in Yugoslavia,” in Kappeler, et al., Muslim Communities Reemerge, esp. pp. 333–86, saw “secular Islamic radicalism” and “religious Islamic radicalism” on the rise during the 1980s, as did Darko Tanašković, “Religion and Human Rights,” Mediterranean Quarterly (1995). Gojko Vuckovic, Ethnic Cleavages and Conflict: The Sources of National Cohesion and Disintegration. The Case of Yugoslavia (Aldershot UK: Ashgate, 1997), pp. 54–5, saw persistent ethnic cleavages originating “in the different histories of Yugoslavia’s ethnic groups” and considered the border between Croats and Serbs bott religious and civilizational, echoing Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs (Summer 1993), and others.

[33] Ivan Lovrenović, Ex Tenebris (Zagreb: AGM, 1994), pp. 115–119, 127, sees Croats as sharing two states (Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) and three cultures (Mediterranean, Central European, and Balkan), and criticizes the “Bosanska (muslimanska) vlast” for its impotence, fatalism, and inability to distinguish “its” state of Bosnia-Herzegovina from “its particularist, Islamic, ethnic politic.” He also criticizes the Croatians, whose polices led to a clash with the Muslims and suffering for Bosnia’s Croats.

[34] For Izetbegović’s remark regarding the war in Croatia, see Adil Zulfikarpašić, Vlado Gotovac, Miko Tripalo, and Ivo Banac, Razgovor okovana bosnakovana (Zurich: Bošnjački Institut, n.d., but c. 1995), p. 99, and Sefer Halilović, The Shrewd Strategy (Sarajevo: Masal, 1997), p. 54, who recalls that in September 1991 the SDA had dismissed the war in Croatia.

[35] For a detailed proposal on population transfers, see Anto Valenta, The Partition of Bosnia and the Struggle for its Integrity (Vitez: August 1991).

[36] Thomas and Firman, The South Slav Conflict, pp. 12–29, 36–7, 331–4, 347, for Carl G. Jacobsen’s argument that Bosnia “was always Serb territory” but “the West’s historical myopia and partisan morality encouraged maximalist Muslim expectations that ultimately served only to fuel and perpetuate war.” Raju Thomas sees ethnic divisions in Bosnia as similar to those in Pakistan and India; he believes that “all sides” in such conflicts “usually have genuine grievances. Bilandžić, Propast, p. 316, insists that “every nation has the legitimate right to do what it can (manevrirati kako zna i umije) to defend its interests.”

[37] John G. Allcock “Rhetoric of Nationalism in Yugoslav Politics,” in John G. Allcock, John J. Horton, and Marko Milivojevic, eds., Yugoslavia in Transition. Choice and Constraints. Essays in Honor of Fred Singleton (New York: Berg, 1992), p. 283, for Allcock’s observation that Muslims may not be a nationality, because their language is “not distinguishable” Serbian and Croatian, “and they are quite explicitly not people of Turkish descent.”

[38] David Rieff, Slaughterhouse. Bosnia and the Failure of the West (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), p. 11. Peter Maass, Love Thy Neighbor. A Story of War (New York: Papermac, 1996), pp. 241, 261–2, 271–2, thought Izetbegović naive because he let the JNA disarm the Bosnian TO and redistribute the arms to Serbs, then asked the UN to help avoid war in Bosnia. Maass notes a radical change in Bosnia’s Muslims, which he attributes to the war, e.g, by 1993 in Zenica women were wearing veils and in Sarajevo the Muslim Minister of Culture was deriding mixed marriages. Donia and Fine, A Tradition Betrayed, pp. 262–7, note that by 1993 “Muslim nationalist interests” dominated the Bosnian government.

[39] Ivo Komšić, Slobodna Bosna, 8 September 1996, said that during a talk in Zagreb, Abdić told him that Izetbegović was the person “most to blame for the Bosnian catastrophe.”

[40] Zulfikarpšić, Razgovor, pp. 79, 81, 85, 89–90, 96, 102–103, saw “no agreement” between “the Islamic world and the West” because their “view of the world is different.”

[41] Halilović, Shrewd Strategy, pp. 66–8, for Halid Čengić Hadžija’s account of the meeting. Izetbegovic and Ćosić were friends. Izetbegovic and Kiro Gligorov proposed an “asymmetrical” confederation which would have created a Greater Serbia but kept Yugoslavia’s Muslims in a single state where they would have been half the population; see Bilandžić, Propast, pp. 315–316.

[42] Zulfikarpašić, Razgovor, pp. 98–9, 102–111. Izetbegovic told Stjepan Kljuić, the Bosnian HDZ President, of the talks only after Zulfikarpašić had returned from Belgrade.

[43] Tuđman made this remark during a meeting of HDZ representatives on December 27, 1991, and in interviews, e.g., Hrvatska riječ svijetu, p. 193. Also Bilandžić, Propast, pp. 315–316.

[44] Mladen Klemenčić, Territorial proposals for the settlement of the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina (Durham: International Boundaries Research Unit/University of Durham, 1994), esp. pp. 28–30.

[45] Jozo Tomasevich [Tomašević], Peasants, Politics and Economic Change in Yugoslavia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1955), pp. 98–100, 102–103, 107–111.

[46] Banac, The National Question, pp. 360–6. Malcolm, Bosnia, pp. 125–33, for the 1875 uprising, the abuses leading up to it, and Muslim irregulars (bashi-bazouks) who killed 5,000 peasants and forced between 100,000 and 250,000 to flee.

[47] Ljubo Boban, R. W. Seton-Watson i Jugoslaveni: korespondencija, 1896-1941 (Zagreb: IHP, 1976), Vol. I, Doc. 66, for Josip Smodlaka’s reference to the “Turks” in Sarajevo.

[48] Banac, National Question, pp. 367–7. R. W. Seton-Watson, Vol. II, Doc. 179, noted in 1930 that the status of Muslims had “altered very much for the worse” since 1918.

[49] Franjo Tuđman, Nationalism in Contemporary Europe (Boulder CO: East European Monographs, 1981), pp. 112–116, 166, 243-4, 276-7, 285, 291, and Hrvatska riječ svijetu, pp. 186–7. “The past of Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Tuđman observed, “is inseparable from the past of Croatians, who have lived on its lands since the Middle Ages.” He considered Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina “an indivisible geographic and economic entity,” linked historically and ethnically. Tuđman believed that the communist regime had kept Bosnia independent to avoid taking sides in the contentious debate over ownership between Serbs and Croats, but he insisted that an “objective examination” would show that Muslims were “of Croatian origin” in speech and “ethnic character.” They had viewed themselves as Croatian until 1945, he argued, noting that both Milovan Djilas, the communist dissident, and Svetozar Pribićević, the leader of Croatia’s Serbs in the interwar period, had acknowledged as much. If Serbia could claim both Kosovo, a largely Muslim province, and Vojvodina, where Serbs were a bare majority, then, Tuman suggested, Croatia should be reunited with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

[50] Bogdan Krizman, ed., Korespondencija Stjepana Radića (Zagreb; Institut za hrvatsku povijest, 1973), vol. II, pp. 226, 338, 342, 469, 561–3. Both Radić and Tuđman also proposed loose confederations as alternatives to the annexation of Bosnian areas to Croatia.

[51] Tomasevich, Peasants, pp. 247–9, 352–6, notes that the Yugoslav state used credit, appeals to ethnic and religious prejudices, and the manipulation of consensus to manipulate the peasantry. Land reform extended from 1919 through 1930, with 113,103 “serf” families awarded 775,233 hectares, and the families of 54,728 tenant farmers 400,072 hectares; Serbian colonists obtained 34,364 hectares. There was no land reform in Serbia or Montenegro.

[52] Atif Purivatra, Jugoslavenska muslimanska organizacija u političkom životu Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata I Slovenaca (Sarajevo: Svetlost, 1974), pp. 13–98, and Nacionalni i politički razvitak muslimana, pp. 142–5; and Hrvoje Matković, “Hrvatska Zajednica,” Istroija XX veka (1963), pp. 5–136.

[53] Höpken, in Kappeler, et al., Muslim Communities Reemerge, pp. 217, 219, 221, lists 28 of 36 Muslim deputies as “Croatian,” but doubts the “mass of the Muslim population” developed “a national consciousness which transcended the feeling of religious community.” Sabrina P. Ramet, Nihil Obstat. Religion, Politics, and Social Change in East-Central Europe and Russia (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 1998), p. 161, lists 22 of 24 Muslim “Croatian” deputies.

[54] Purivatra, JMO, pp.1110–112, and Nacionalni razvitak, pp. 160–3, 166–9; R. W. Seton-Watson, doc. 178, Spaho to Seton-Watson, 18 March 1930, for the Muslim struggle to obtain “Kultusautonomie” (religious freedom). Muslims were neither secular nor national, e.g., replacing the fez with a Panama hat provoked Turkey’s imams. Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975/1961), esp. pp. 410–411.

[55] Čulinović, Jugoslavija, Vol. I, pp. 254 ff., 281, and Banac, National Question, passim. Of the “Yugoslav” parties – the Demokratska Stranka (DS), Komunistička Partija Jugoslavije (KPJ), Jugoslavenska Socijalno-Demokratska Stranka (JSDS), and Narodna Radikalna Stranka (NRS) – only the left-wing parties were truly multi-ethnic; the NRS and DS were predominantly Serbian, and each had a party army used to intimidate its opponents. The “federalist” parties were Croatian, both the Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka (HSS) and the Hrvatska Zajednica. After it broke with the DS and joined the HSS in the SDK (Seljačko-Demokratska Koalicija), the Samostalna Demokratska Stranka (SDS) adopted a federal program. The Croatian Communist Party also tended to go its own way.

[56] Purivatra, JMO, pp. 440–3, 453–8, 483–91, 503–13, 546–72, 586–88.

[57] Purivatra, JMO, pp. 117–34, 139–40, 149–50, 184–91.

[58] Čulinović, Jugoslavija, Vol. I, pp. 401–405. The JMO, the Serbian NRS, the Croatian HSS, and the Serbian Farmer’s Party elected 18, 13, 9, and 7 deputies, respectively.

[59] Čulinović, Jugoslavija, Vol. I, pp. 442–82; and Purivatra, JMO, pp. 208–213, 230–31, 303–309.

[60] Svetozar Pribićević created Orjuna to intimidate opponents of unification. The NRS formed Srnao to defend its interests and intimidate its opponents. The HSS was pacifist, but the HSP created Hanao, and the JMO its own armed formations. The dictatorship disbanded these groups in 1929 and created the Udruženje četnika za slobodu i čast otadžbine, controlled by the Bela Ruka, a secret military society. In 1931, the Yugoslav government organized the patriotic Mlada Jugoslavija, whose members murdered Milan Šufflaj, a Croatian scholar. Chetniks served the regime and took on various colorations, including Yugoslav and Muslim. Purivatra, JMO, pp. 315–20, 335–39, 366–72; Nusret Šehić, Četništvo u Bosni i Hercegovini (1918–1941) (Sarajevo: ANU/BiH, 1971), pp. 94–128; Šarac, Uspostavljanje šestojanuarskog režima, pp. 88–9, 196–97; and Branislav Gligorijević, “Srpska nacionalna omladina (SRNAO),” Istorijski glasnik (1964), esp. p. 4–7, 18–19, 27–8; and “Organizacija jugoslovenskih nacionalista (ORJUNA),” Istorija XX veka (1963), pp. 330, 350.

[61]Čulinović, Jugoslavija, Vol. I., pp. 493–511. The JMO had managed only 9 seats, the Croats 8, and the Serbian 15 in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

[62] Purivatra, JMO, pp. 376–8, 396–400, 422–4.

[63] Šarac, Uspostavljanje, p. 132–3, for Radić, and R. W. Seton-Watson, Vol. II, Doc. 180. Ivo Lupis-Vukić reported that Korošec opposed amputation, but Spaho, Vukićević, and Davidović supported it.

[64] Milan Stojadinović, Ni pakt ni rat (Rijeka: Otokar Keršovani, 1963), pp. 259–66, 273, 296, 310, 317–318, 505, 522, 541, and Tri godine vlade dr. Milana M. Stojadinovića (Belgrade, 1939), passim. In 1928, Stojadinović considered the JMO part of the Serbian “opposition” (NRS, DS, and SZS); the King told him he “did not want to hear about the Muslims” (“nije hteo da čuje za muslimana”).

[65] R. W. Seton-Watson, Vol. II, Doc. 228, for August Košutić’s remark that the Muslims were in a “precarious situation” (unhaltbare Lage) in the early 1930s; and Banac, National Question, pp. 373–77. For the 1990s, see Norman Cigar, Genocide in Bosnia. The Policy of Ethnic Cleansing (College Station TX: Texas A&M UP, 1995), passim.

[66] R. W. Seton-Watson, Vol II, Docs. 179, 293, and passim. Seton-Watson discerned a “deliberate design” by Serbian leaders “to undermine Islam in Bosnia” and eventually force “its adherents back into the Serbian fold.” He considered Muslims to be Islamicized Slavs, not a separate nationality. Vucinich, Contemporary Yugoslavia, pp. 27–32, notes that in 1939 the JMO leaders Spaho and Džafter Kulenović supported a Serbian-Croatian, but the partition of Bosnia proved to be the greatest obstacle to the creation of the Croatian Banovina. For a full discussion of the Banovina’s creation, see Ljubo Boban, Maček i politika Hrvatske seljačke stranke, 1928-1941 (Zagreb: Liber, 1974), passim, esp. p. 49, for Spaho’s opposition to territorial concessions to Maček.

[67] Branimir Anzulovic, Heavenly Serbia. From Myth to Genocide (New York: NYU UP, 1999), passim.

[68] Höpken, “Yugoslavia’s Communists and the Bosnian Muslims,” pp. 223, 225–6; and generally, Fikreta Jelić-Butić, Ustaše i Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, 1941-1945 (Zagreb: Liber, 1977), and Jozo Tomašević, The Chetniks and Occupation and Collaboration.

[69] Since World War II, Serbian and Partisan “narratives” have had precedent over Croatian and Muslim accounts. Even during the war, Louis Adamić, Nikola Tesla, and Stojan Pribićević had difficulty refuting Serbian propaganda. For correctives, see Louis Adamic, My Native Land (New York: Harper Brothers, 1943), pp. 81–7, 399–406; Philip J. Cohen, Serbia's Secret War. Propaganda and the Deceit of History (College Station, TX: Texas A&M UP, 1996), passim; and James J. Sadkovich, The U.S. Media and Yugoslavia, 1991–1995 (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1998), pp. 148–52.

[70] Donia and Fine, A Tradition Betrayed, pp. 145–55, do not mention Serbian collaboration or Serbian atrocities, but between October 1942 and February 1943, Pavle Đurišić’s Chetniks massacred an estimated 10,000 Croats and Muslims in the communities of Prozor, Foča, Čajniče, and Pljevlja. See Tomašević, The Chetniks, pp. 166–71, 175, 256–51, and The Trial of Dragoljub-Draža Mihailović. Stenographic Record and Documents from the Trial of Dragoljub-Draža Mihailović (Belgrade, 1946/Salisbury, NC: Documentary Publications, 1977), passim.

[71] Jelić-Butić, Ustaše i NDH, pp. 196–202; Höpken, p. 224; Tomašević, The Chetniks, p. 257. Serbians saw Muslims as their “traditional enemy” but Chetnik actions were calculated, e.g., in 1943 they suspended their attacks when they realized that the Muslims had “political value.”

[72] Vladimir Žerjavić, Opsesije i megalomanije oko Jasenovca i Bleiburga (Zagreb: Globus, 1992), esp. pp. 202–205, and Bogoljub Kočović, Žrtve Drugog svetskog rata u Jugoslaviji (London: Naše delo, 1985), passim.

[73] In 1969, Wayne Vucinich, Yugoslavia, p. 276, defined Muslims as “something approaching a nation.” Höpken, “Yugoslavia’s Communists,” pp. 214–216, 228, 238, called for “some skepticism about the credibility of the concepts offered by Yugoslav [Muslim] historians; and Allcock, “Rhetoric of Nationalism,” p. 278, noted that three nationalities “might not exist” without the “ministrations” of the communist regime—the Macedonian, Montenegrin, and Muslim; also Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, pp. 178–81.

[74] Ramet, Nationalism and Federalism, pp. 123–5. Serbs dominated the Radio-Television Sarajevo, Sarajevo Television, Odjek, the Bosnian National Library, and the Bosnian Academy of Arts and Sciences. Muslims controlled Sarajevo Radio, Zadruga, and the newspapers Život, Izraž, and Pregled. Rieff, Slaughterhouse, pp. 123–6, notes that Oslobođenje suffered “intellectual corruption” because its editors supported Izetbegović and his government “uncritically,” depicting the Muslims as the good guys and Serbs as “fascist aggressors.” Mark Thompson, Forging War: The Media in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (London: Article 19/International Centre against Censorship, May 1994), pp 38–50, takes a more benign view of the Muslim media and tends to equate the Serbian and Croatian, as does Jasmina Kuzmanović, "Media: The Extension of Politics by other Means," in Sabrina Petra Ramet and Ljubiš S. Adamovich, Beyond Yugoslavia. Politics, Economics, and Culture in a Shattered Community (Boulder: Westview, 1995). In reality, all media misrepresented events during the war. James Gow, Richard Paterson, and Alison Preston, Bosnia by Television (London: British Film Institute, 1996), pp. 2, 65, thinks reporting on the war was distorted by “dominant historical memories” and “ideological emphases,” while Sandra Basic-Hrvatin concludes that a “nationalist environment” tends to a media which “function as a specific way of realising national fantasy, reshaping perception and understanding of everyday life.”

[75] Nora Beloff, Tito’s Flawed Legacy. Yugoslavia & the West since 1939 (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1985), pp. 215–217.

[76] Vucinich, Contemporary Yugoslavia, pp. 268, 275–6, for “friction among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims over economic and political benefits” in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the “problem” they presented in Kosovo.

[77] Muhamed Filipović, Pokušaj jedne duhovne biografije (Sarajevo: Avicena, 1999), pp. 131–46.

[78] Ramet, Nihil Obstat, pp. 169–71; Höpken, “Yugoslavia’s Communists,” p. 238, cites Rusinow, who asserted that for Muslims “historical consciousness, mores, and culture as ‘media of national identification’ are so closely linked to Islam, that it becomes next to impossible to legitimize a Muslim nation in purely secular terms.”

[79] Alija Izetbegović, Odabrani govori, pisma, izjave, intrvjui (Zagreb: Prvo muslimansko dioničko društvo, 1995), pp. 15–16, 30–1, and L’islam entre l’est et l’ouest (Paris: François-Gerbillon, 1999), p. 19, and passim, notes that his intention was to understand Islam’s place in a world dominated by competing ideologies.

[80] Sabrina Ramet, “Primordial Ethnicity or Modern Nationalism: The Case of Yugoslavia’s Muslims, Reconsidered,” in Andreas Kappeler, et al. Muslim Communities Reemerge, pp. 132–3.

[81] Bilandžić, Propast, pp. 314–16.

[82] The other parties managed 38 seats, with the two largest, the SKS and SKBiH, getting 14 seats each. The 1991 census for Bosnia-Herzegovina counted a total population of 4,364,574, of which 1,905,829 (43.7 percent) were Muslim, 1,369,258 (31.4 percent) Serb, 755,895 (17.3 percent) Croat, and 239,845 (5.5 percent) Yugoslav. See Marić, Pregled pučanstva, pp. 224-5.

[83] The Muslims faced a conundrum. To admit that Bosnia was an ethnically divided state risked partition or limited Muslim control; but to claim that it was “their” state meant denying the existence of the Bosnian Serbs and Croats and risked making an SDA-dominated Bosnia seem Islamic, which would have been to fly in the face of Western prejudices in favor a religious toleration. For the conundrum, see Rusmir Mahmutćehajić, Dobra Bosna (Zagreb: Duriex, 1997, esp. pp. 39-40.

[84] Rieff, Slaughterhouse, p. 142. Halilović, Shrewd Strategy, p. 18, notes he and Izetbegović, neither of whom spoke Arabic, greeted each other with Es-selamu-aleikum, rather as if Bosnia’s Christians had used Greek or Latin to say hello.