Parallels between Iraq and Balkan situation decades after the wars

Soldier and mother with baby during Iraq War (Photo: Flickr)

Soldier and mother with baby during Iraq War (Photo: Flickr)

These days United States and Iraq are commemorating tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Lessons, messages, experiences and personal stories are in the focus of our attention. Magazines and newspapers went back to the archives and brought back some of the most significant stories regarding pre-invasion times and actual day when whole operation started. Saturday’s The Washington Post published very interesting editorial under the title “Iraq, 10 years later – U.S. inattention to the country’s turmoil risks many of the war’s gains”. To me as someone who survived an war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1990’s, and clearly remembers another war in Kosovo in late 1990’s The Washington Post words are strikingly resemblant and understandable. The United States intervened in both Balkan wars, then went to two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“For the first time in decades, contemporary Iraq poses no threat to its neighbours, and parts of the country are flourishing. But violence continues, the central government appears to be crumbling, and The United States, by failing to live up to its promises of partnership, is tipping the country toward deeper trouble. Iraq remains plagued by the sectarianism that now pervades the Middle East”, says in the editorial.

We can almost certainly draw the parallel line and just change the country name to replicated these words to Bosnia and Kosovo, with bit less violence. Nonetheless governments are not functioning, both countries are not even close to the EU-NATO integrations and troubles are piling up every single day. Of course in case of Bosnia and Kosovo major responsibility lays on the Clinton administrations, but also on Bush’s because he also failed to do more and take decisive action in finishing what was started. Even bigger problem is that wars in Balkans happened two decades ago and still progress is barely measurable or if it happens it is hidden behind enormous piles of trouble.

Destroyed Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia (Photo:Flickr)

Destroyed Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia (Photo:Flickr)

In the case of Iraq major outside player is Iran which has the great influence on Maliki’s government and it’s presumed that uses Iraq’s airports as weapon transport points on the way to Syria as part of support chain to dictator Assad. In the case of Bosnia or Kosovo we can say that Serbia plays significant role in political world of Bosnian and Kosovo Serbs, on the other side Kosovo majority Albanians are under the pretty significant influence of Albania. Bosnia’s federal and entity government are in pat position for major part of the last four years, budgets are not presented to the parliaments and by that not implemented what leaves enormous pressure and stress on every single element of the society. Kosovo’s government is functional but unable to produce enough industrial activity to boost its economy and provide for its citizens. Of course today’s U.S. administration under the President Obama is not more active in any of these areas, what as The Washington Post rightly concludes could damage Iraqi chances to succeed and will have impact on those who sacrificed there.

“President Obama has often given the impression that he has turned his back on Iraq, and many Americans understandably sympathize with him. But a failure to emerge with the fragile state U.S. troops left behind would endanger U.S. interests and break faith with the many Americans who made sacrifices there”, concludes The Washington Post editorial.

Kosovo Refugees in Macedonia (Photo: Flickr)

Kosovo Refugees in Macedonia (Photo: Flickr)

As U.S. is not military present in Balkans as that was in 1990’s but still injects large sums of money into the budget or relief systems of Bosnia and Kosovo they should take more decisive action to finish what they started back in 20th century. President Obama should and could do more to prevent future stagnation and to show that United States are still strong and important player on the world’s political scene. I’m afraid if U.S. doesn’t take any actions that all mentioned countries and regions could face itself again, at least Iraq, with civil war and in Balkans with political inner fighting causing even more problems to the EU. I think its time for Obama to start playing real and efficient diplomatic game.


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