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TheCaseof Serbia ~ ~ D o e s ethnicity affect the international system? What are the causes of violent conflict along ethnic lines? Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the outbreak of war in the Balkans, these questions have seized the attention of international relations scholars and policy makers.’ In the former Yugoslavia, war conducted in the name of ethnic solidarity has destroyed the Yugoslav state, leveled entire cities, and resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of refugees.’ It has also brought NATO’s first out-of-area actions, the largest United Nations peacekeepingoperation in history, and the very real possibility of war spreading to other parts of the Balkans. Is the Yugoslav case a look into the future of international relations? Are ethnically-mixedregionsin the post-Cold War era inevitablythe sitesof violent conflict that will spill over into the international arena? If so, the only apparent solution would be the creation of ethnically pure states;yet the greatest threats to peace in this century have tended to come from those regions in which partitions along ethnic or religious lines have taken place.3This paradox is a VP. Gagnon, Jr., is an SSRC-MacArthur Foundation post-doctoral fellow in Peace and Security in a Changing World in the Peace Studies Program, Cornell University. In the current academic year, he is a visiting scholar at Zagreb University in Croatia and Belgrade University in Serbia. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the September 1992 APSA meeting in Chicago. For helpful suggestions and criticisms, thanks to Dominique Caouette, Roger Petersen, Liz Wishnick , and Peter Katzenstein.Funding for revisionsof this paper were provided by the SocialScience Research Council-MacArthur Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship in Peace and Security in a Changing World, and the Department of State Title VIII program in Russian and East European Studies, administered by the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. 1. See, for example, John Mearsheimer, “Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War,” International Security, Vol. 15,No. 1 (Summer 1990),pp. 5-56; Stephen Van Evera, ”Hypotheses on Nationalism and War,” International Security, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Spring 1994), pp. 5-39; Jack Snyder, ”The New Nationalism,” in Richard Rosecrance and Arthur A. Stein, eds., The Domestic Bases of Grand Strategy (Ithaca,N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993),pp. 179-200; Michael E. Brown, ed., Ethnic Conflict and International Security (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993). 2. The best English-language sources on the Yugoslav wars include Lenard Cohen, Broken Bonds: The DisiMtegration of Yugoslavia (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1993);James Gow, Legitimacy and the Military: The Yugoslav Crisis (New York:St. Martin’s Press, 1992);Rabia Ali and LawerenceLifshutz, eds., Why Bosnia? Writings on the Balkan War (Stony Creek, Conn.: Pamphleteers Press, 1993). 3. Examples include Greece-Turkey (1922), Ireland (1921),the Sudetenland (1938),India-Pakistan (1947),South African apartheid (1948),Palestine (1948),and Cyprus (1974).John Mearsheimer and Robert Pape, “TheAnswer: A Partition Plan for Bosnia,” The New Republic, June 14,1993,pp. 22-28, argue for partition of Bosnia-Hercegovina as the best solution to the current conflict. fnternutionul Security, Winter 1994/95 (Vol. 19, No. 3), pp. 130-166 0 1995by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 130 Ethnic Nationalism and International Conflict 1 131 major challenge to international peace and stability,especially given the growing number of violent conflicts described and justified in terms of ethnicity, culture, and religion. Despite the urgency of this issue, theories of international relationshave until quite recently not addressed the question of ethnic nationalist conflict. The main challenge is conceptual: how to establish the causal link between ethnic nationalist sentiment and interstate ~iolence.~ Existing approaches tend to assume either that ethnic sentiment itself is the main cause of violent conflict, or that externalsecurityconcerns lead national decision-makersto inflame such sentiment.’ In this paper I argue that such violent conflict is caused not by ethnic sentiments, nor by external security concerns,but rather by the dynamics of within-group conflict.6The external conflict, although justified and described in terms of relations with other ethnic groups and taking place within that context, has its main goal...


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