From ............. THE NEW REPUBLIC

SEPTEMBER 2, 1991 ................. page 11

"..................... Though Slovenian nationhood is something we can all agree on, Croatia, in its current territorial shape, is a more difficult matter.

Former President Reagan, in a July 15 speech in Los Angeles, noted that "in excess of 90 percent [of Croats] have indicated their wish to withdraw" from Yugoslavia. But Reagan neglected to say that 90 percent of the Serbs living within Croatia don't want to.

Since the Serbs constitute only 15 percent of the overall Croatian population, this does not make them necessarily correct, but it does make the situation sufficiently complex to undermine Reagan's easy nostrum.

Whatever the good intentions of Croatia's new leadership, the atmosphere in the bars and on the streets can be decidedly 'Ustashe', with the flags, the eerie war chants, and - most tragically - the reticence of the population and especially the Catholic Church to face squarely the record of Croatia's involvement with the Nazis.

The border-area Serbs, obsessed with the ghosts of death camps past, aren't right now worried about free markets or new nations. Full of fear and vengeance, they seek arms and a ruthless command. And Milosevic, with a Communist Party machine and security apparatus already in place, helped by the federal army, is the man on horseback. ..................

Take the Western Europeans' attempt to deal with the Balkans. At each moment they are caught by their own past. The Germans, on account of World War II; the Austrians, because of the Hapsburg record of helping the Croats against the Serbs; even the Italians, thanks to the Vatican's longtime support for Croatia - all are distrusted by at least one of the warring parties in Yugoslavia. ......................."