To Leave or not to Leave ?
Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
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Washington, DC 20071
With debate in this country now raging about the scope and duration of the current US military mission in Iraq, it is prescient to examine our recent role in Bosnia ("Troops May Leave Bosnia In '04, Commander Says" World News,Oct 11). Thomas Ricks notes that the US military commander for Europe, Marine Gen. James Jones, recently stated that "we're seeing in Bosnia a real potential for ending the military mission there and transitioning to...(a solely civilian presence)".
But, with the Pentagon now declaring de-facto "success" in Bosnia, one must wonder what about future benchmarks for success in Iraq. After eight years in Bosnia post Dayton, while there is no longer war, there is also no permanent foundation for peace and stability. The major cause is that Bosnia is still a divided country today, ruled like a military "pro-consul" by the Office of the High Representative.
The Bosnian Serbs, via their "Republika Serpska - RS" mini-state, tightly control 49% of the entire country (even though they made up only 31% of the population before the war started). According to the UN, the RS continues to harbor the top two most-wanted war criminals, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and continues to discourage minority refugee returns. The RS still maintains it's own, independent army, beyond the control of the central government. Adding to this unstable environment is rife corruption and an approximately 40% unemployment rate. Given these factors, it is hard to imagine how the Pentagon can now declare success and pull out. If these benchmarks are any guide, this does not bode well for the future of Iraq.