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A taste of home

Bosnia: 10 Years Later

Bosnian Muslim girl
Originally uploaded by TwoCrabs.

Ten years ago this month, I deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Maryland Army National Guard, in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. More than 20,000 U.S. troops, along with thousands of foreign troops, were sent to Bosnia as peacekeepers to enforce the terms of the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the Bosnia war. The peacekeeping force was known as IFOR, or Implementation Force.

Bosnia seems a million light years away now. But looking at world events today, there's a lot of "lessons-learned" -- to use an Army term -- that we could take from Bosnia.

For the most part, Bosnia has been a success of how diplomacy, backed by military might, can bring peace, stability and democracy to a war-torn country. Most U.S. troops left in late 2004; a handful of about 150 remain to hunt for war criminals.

It's not perfect. Bosnia is still a country divided by ethnic strife between the three major ethnic groups: Muslims, Croats and Serbs. Until recently, the country had separate three presidents, governments and military forces -- one for each ethnic group. The controversial break up of Yugoslovia along ethnic lines was known as "Balkanization."

But things are looking up. Bosnia is now in the process of dissolving the Dayton Peace Accord and replacing it with a modern, European model of democracy -- a single government under one leader who represents all citizens. Bosnia has been at relative peace for a decade.

Could the same plan work for Iraq? Highly doubtful. Some have argued that Iraq is already on the bring of civil war and it would be better to just break up the country into three parts along the three ethnic groups: Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. But unlike Bosnia, Iraq is blessed with natural resources: oil. If Iraq were "Balkanized", the minority Sunnis would be the losers because their are of Iraq has no natural resources.a single country made up of three ethnic groups who don't get along, and probably never will. What's the answer? That's the $64,000 question. Only time will tell.

Click below to access The Bosnia Buddha, (
my first-ever blog which chronicled my experiences in Bosnia. Note that this site is no longer maintained.