Slobodan Milosevic and the Fire of Nationalism

  • Ronald Wintrobe


One of the central policy dilemmas for the world community appears to be the persistence of dictatorships, or at least of highly imperfect or ‘ugly’ democracies1 and the problems caused by the interaction and conflict between these regimes and the democracies. The most obvious examples are the never-ending standoff between Fidel Castro of Cuba and the United States, the conflict in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the continuing conflicts between Western democracies and Saddam Hussein, the dilemma of how to deal with China, and of course, the post 9/11 dilemma of how to deal with terrorism, itself often linked to ‘rogue’ states, all of which are dictatorships, and some are totalitarian, like Afghanistan under the Taliban. These frictions and antagonisms continue to cause problems for a world community otherwise increasingly devoted to peace and human rights. Why do dictatorships cause so many problems? The reason, I suggest, is not just that they are essentially aggressive or warlike, though this characterization is not an unfair description of the behavior of many undemocratic regimes. Insofar as the conflicts result in overt war, I will contend, the basic problem is the misunderstanding of how these regimes work by the theorists, politicians and citizens of democratic countries. For example, while most dictators repress their populations, few survive by repression alone. Typically they also seek to obtain the support of their peoples. To illustrate, consider Milosevic. He was often described as a dictator but he

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{WintrobeSlobodanMA, title={Slobodan Milosevic and the Fire of Nationalism}, author={Ronald Wintrobe} }