Keegan's conceptual map of Europe unwittingly recalls Carl Pletsch's famous analysis of "the. Three Worlds." Pletsch argued that during the Cold War, the social sciences had divided up the world in accordance with certain prevailing assumptions in the West about the path from tradition to modernity.
Invoking the tensions of a supposedly irrational, traditional (and ultimately primitive) society becomes not simply a way of separating the Balkans from the rest of Europe, but of dispensing with further analysis of the war.
That mutual suspicion exists between town and country is not in doubt. Yet that is hardly what prompts wars to break out. The massive armaments superiority which enabled the Bosnian Serb nationalists to begin hostilities in 1992 was not manufactured in barns and stables. It is in the struggle for power following Tito's death that ethnicity assumes a central role. In the background lies Milosevic's espousal of Serbian nationalism as a strategy for guaranteeing Serbian power after the collapse of communism, as well as its consequences, the emergence of opposing nationalist factions in Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia. What, then, were the causes of the Bosnian war and what is their relation to the issue of ethnicity? The key seems to me to lie in the relationship of ethnicity not to history or society, but to politics and power. To what extent were ethnic tensions evident in Communist society? Again, the evidence is far from clear. On the one hand, the national leadership in Belgrade drew upon the language of ethnicity to facilitate its handling of local politics in the various provinces; on the other hand, marriage across ethnic lines was extremely common, particularly in Bosnia. Yet religion can hardly have been said to have been the main cause of the fighting, even if it has provided useful symbols for mass mobilization. The second problem is historical: far from ethnicity having been a perennial source of bloodshed in the Balkans, most of the conflicts in the region have not been ethnic in origin or character. As studies of village life in post-Civil War Greece have shown, it was often a new generation which took the lead in this process by the simple expedient of falling in love across the ethnic divide, or leaving for the towns.