The end to the Cold War led too many people to assume that threats to the peace are over. Iraq's aggression disabused them. Yet many still take for granted that the possibility of war in Europe has ended. That, also, is unhappily untrue. The impending breakup of Yugoslavia may bring war between the Serbian Republic and its neighbors unless the emerging political leaders show greater statesmanship than they have.
Last Sunday's election in the Serbian Republic retained the Communist (now Socialist) government of Slobodan Milosevic, which has grafted Serbian nationalism onto the most orthodox relic of Titoist communism. A similar outcome obtained in Montenegro. The anti-Marxist opposition in Serbia denounced the result as fraudulent. In the autonomous province of Kosovo, where Serbian authority had suppressed local institutions, the Albanian majority boycotted the vote.
So Mr. Milosevic has a strengthened mandate to pursue those policies which provoke passionate opposition among the non-Serbian nationalities in Yugoslavia's six republics and two autonomous provinces. Slovenia, the wealthiest and Westernmost republic, holds a plebiscite Dec. 23 on independence. Serbia could let the two million Slovenes go. But that would encourage the other Western and prosperous republic, Croatia, to follow suit when it adopts a constitution.