Croats.rnAll the rest seems to be distant history now. In 1990, on therneve of Yugoslavia’s breakup, the majority of Catholic Slovenesrnand Croats favored the transformation of centralized SerbdominatedrnYugoslavia into a confederal state. Serbian communistrnleader Slobodan Milosevic flatly refused the idea of arnconfederal Yugoslavia for fear that Serbia would lose its historicrnYugoslav mandate, which it had received at Versailles in 1919rnand inherited at Potsdam in 1945. When in 1991 Slovenes andrnCroats voted in defiance for a complete divorce from Yugoslavia,rnthe Yugoslav Army launched a large-scale invasionrnagainst Slovenian and Croat “fascist separatists.” As the war beganrnto rage, so did the inflated word fascism become an expedientrnmetaphor for the Western media. It was huded by everybodyrnat everybody—and it therefore hit nobody. The Serbsrnsee themselves as fighting the just war against a resurgent fascistrnpapal Croatia and Islamic fundamentalism. The Westernrnmedia, by contrast, is portraying Serb President SlobodanrnMilosevic as the fascist butcher of the Balkans, bent on ethnicrncleansing. Yet, old dogs cannot learn new tricks. Milosevic isrnstill a communist apparatchik, and the party he presides over isrnstill euphemistically called the Socialist Party of Serbia.rnUnquestionably, the roots of the present conflict in what inrnthe past tense used to be Yugoslavia are grounded in recent history,rnwhich by now has turned into self-serving mythology.rnDuring World War II, Serbia suffered under fascism but, likernall European countries, also experimented with fascism. Serbiarnexperienced its own share of killing and suffering just likernCroatia, or, for that matter, any other country in Europe.rnWodd War II and postwar sufferings of Muslims, Albanians,rnethnic Germans, and Hungarians at the hands of the Yugoslavrncommunists still appear to evade the contemporary mediarncomparisons. Serbia’s less glorious World War II past was forrnyears swept under the red carpet of oblivion, first by Yugoslavrncommunist clerics and then by contemporary Serbian hagiographers.rnThe real warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina has now ceasedrnto be a war of Serb-Croat-Muslim memories; it has turned intorna surreal war for respective numbers of casualties and endlesslyrnincreasing national trigonometries. Since 1945, Yugoslavrnpoliticians, the Serb Christian Orthodox Church, and arnnumber of Serb intellectuals have steadily inflated SerbianrnWodd War II casualties, which portray Serbs as victims of inbornrnCroatian and German fascism. The president of Croatia,rnformer Partisan general and historian Franjo Tudjman, is intenselyrnhated in Serbia because his World War 11 body countsrnfly in the face of Serbian victimology. Before becoming presidentrnof Croatia, Tudjman tried to demolish Serbian and communistrnhistoriography by deflating the number of SerbianrnWodd War II dead from the official 700,000 to a very modestrn70,000. Predictably, his excursion into historicism regardingrnSerbian mythical martyrdom unleashed Serbia’s wrath. Facedrnwith a sudden Croatian attack on her mythology, Serbiarnlaunched, in 1991, a military counterattack against separatistrnCroatia. Political reality may change, but mythical surrealityrnmust remain untainted by any profanity.rnTudjman’s books and statements also led to an outcry amongrnWestern liberal opinion-makers, who were quick to dub him anrnanti-Semitic revisionist. The real problem with Tudjman is notrnso much his substance, but rather his awkward Central Europeanrnschwerfdllig style. Unlike the Serb Slobodan Milosevic,rnwho is a slick Byzantine con man with an excellent knowledgernof English and the ability to fool “prime-time” Westerners, thernCroat Tudjman, just like all Central European politicians, stuttersrnand mutters. Small wonder, therefore, that he could notrnquickly sell the Croatian cause to the videopolitieal wodd ofrnWashington and Paris.rnTo grasp Serbian anger at Croatia and the West one shouldrnread the 19th-century Serbian satirist Radoje Domanovic.rnDomanovic described the royal house in Serbia as the site ofrnendless Byzantine persecution complexes coupled with pan-rnSlavic zeal to convert Catholic and Muslim Slavs. Serbian royalrnhallucinations, stretching from the House of Karadjordjevicrnall the way down to the House of Milosevic, are still visible inrnBelgrade today. Every Serb is made to believe that a conspiratorialrnWest, along with an Islamic East, is plotting to enslavernthe Serb people. Croats, by contrast, see Bosnia’s Muslims asrnstupid, neolithic, stray-away Croats who now need to be reconvertedrnto Croatian national consciousness. In Croatianrnpopular jokes, Bosnia’s Muslims are endlessly portrayed asrnspecies with bizarre lovemaking conduct and strange toiletrnhabits.rnThe more secular European Community and United Nationsrnalso border on mythical melodrama. Their vicarious humanismrnmanifests itself in occasional drops of culinary diplomacy,rnas well as in the presence of “peace-keeping forces” in arncountry torn by violent war. U.N. Samaritans lecture againstrnSerbian ethnic cleansing, forgetting that ethnic cleansing is onlyrnthe postmodern spin-off of the ciijus regio ejus religio of allrncountries in the making. Ethnic cleansing did not start withrnMilosevic and his likes; it began with communist Tito, who eitherrnkilled or expelled a half-million ethnic Germans andrnHungarians from early Yugoslavia. Tito only practiced in chorusrnthe art of other East European communists, which resultedrnin the largest German Volkerwanderung in history: from thernBalkans to the Baltics, from Konigsberg to Karlovac. The Croatianrnexodus from Vukovar last year and the agony ofrnDubrovnik under Serbian bombs, followed today by death onrnthe installment plan in Sarajevo, are only the continuation ofrnthe funeral march that began at Bleiburg and Breslau in 1945rn. . . and that is flnishing in Bosnia in 1993. Forty years afterrnTito’s ethnic cleansing, Milosevic miscalculated: he grotesquelyrnfollowed his predecessor’s suit, and he grotesquely failed.rnDuring its brief communist interregnum, Tito’s Yugoslaviarnoffered the foreign visitor bizarre features, which only the morbidrnand satirical painter, the 17th-century Jacques Callot,rncould have captured. In one of Callot’s pictures, showing thernThirty Years War in Europe, one sees a scene of boundless popularrnrevelry near a tree decorated with dozens of hanged men.rnSimilarly, Titoist Yugoslavia could for years boast of the largestrnnumber of nudist beaches in Europe, but also of the largestrnprison population per capita in Eastern Europe. Just like in permissivernAmsterdam, one could freely light up a joint in the centerrnof Belgrade or Zagreb, but one could also easily end up, forrna minor “political incorrectness,” in a real communist joint.rnYugoslav conviviality allowed everybody everything—providedrnone did not touch the infallibility of the mythical Tito. For 40rnyears, Yugoslav communist vocabulary dubbed every Croat arn”fascist” if he ventured to evoke his national ancestry. In Yugoslavia,rnas everywhere else in Eastern Europe, one could displayrnnational sentiments and unfud his flag only behind closedrnfamily doors or in the open soccer field.rnA number of Serbians ended up in Tito’s prisons too. CutrnAUGUST 1993/23rnrnrn