Absence of Children's Wisdom in the Bosnian Conflict
“There was never a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword”(1). In the films, Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, No Man’s Land, and The Fourth Part of the Brain, the Bosnians were not particularly nationalistic or savage, rather; they were normal people whose leaders led them into a violent struggle with their friends and neighbors, which was exacerbated by a lack of effective assistance from the international community and the UN. These films depict the majority of combatants as either people who did not entirely support the war or people who supported the war because they had been misinformed. Furthermore, the mindless atrocities, which became an unfortunate characteristic of the Bosnian War (1992-1995), were not the results of mass xenophobia or collective hatred amongst Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Moslems, who had lived together in relative harmony for generations. Rather, these acts of senseless violence resulted from a combination of socio-economic and political factors that created a climate of fear, which radical Bosnian political leaders and their imperialistic neighbors exploited to benefit their respective countries and ethnic groups.
The multi ethnic and religious composition of Bosnia would appear to indicate that underlying xenophobic and racist sentiments may have existed before the war and contributed to its outbreak. Although the Slavic population of Bosnia shared a common language and a very similar ancestry, there were minor ethnic differences between them. Bosnian Slavs were part of an early migration of Slavic tribes into the Balkans that occurred in the third century C.E., Croats and Serbs migrated from their lands in the vicinity of modern Poland and Czechoslovakia to the Balkans in a later Slavic migration which occurred in the seventh century C.E. (Malcom 6). In addition, Croats and Serbs contained an ethnic Iranian component, which other Slavs lacked (Bosnia 7). During World War II, this slight difference in ethnic composition may have lead to the Croatian Fascist movement, the Ustasha, which propagated racial propaganda similar to that of the Nazis and considered Croats superior to other Slavs. At the beginning of the 1990s, there may have been some lingering resentment caused by the Croat Ustasha movement existing in Yugoslavia; however, this mild undercurrent of resentment would not have been strong enough to cause the senseless violence that transpired during the Bosnian Conflict.
In addition to minor ethnic differences, there were substantial religious differences amongst the various Bosnian ethnic groups: the Croats were predominantly Catholic, the Serbs were predominantly Orthodox, and the largest ethnic group (an ethnic plurality) consisted of Bosnian Moslems. This may have lead to the resentment of Moslems by Christians because converts to Islam received special privileges during the period of...