The former Yugoslavia is a mess. It has been so since before the Ottomans ruled that part of the world, and judging from recent events, it will continue to be so long into the future. CW is fond on quoting from Dame West’s “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon”, because the pre-war Balkan region she describes is remarkably similar to the situation today.
In “What Went Wrong”, Bernard Lewis noted the stark cultural difference between Turkey and the rest of the Muslim world in the period from roughly 1880 to 1922. When confronted with the reality of European dominance and success, the Turks asked themselves “What did we do wrong?”. The Arabs asked themselves “What did they just do to us?”. Turkey flourished, relatively speaking, and the Middle East today would be right where it was in 1922 if it were not for oil. In fact, it is pretty much where it was in 1922, just with more automobiles and guns.
The culture of the Balkans blames everyone else for their troubles: their neighbors, the UN, the EU, and most of all the US. After nearly 3 decades of murdering each other, here’s what the Serbs have to say:
"The whole nation is angry," said Sinisa Tasic, one of the organizers. "We are furious with the Americans. Wherever they go they create problems."
As intellectual rationalizations for bad behavior go, blaming the US is a pretty convenient one, but the leaders of the Balkans have always been pretty good at rationalizing their actions in the absence of foreign interference. P.J. O’Rourke noted that same thing when writing about the Bosnian situation in All the Trouble in the World: