March 17, 2003 Debate and confusion have emerged over the possible duration and costs in terms of manpower, military expenditure and development of the impending war in Iraq and the subsequent nation-building exercise envisaged by the administration. A look at the U.S. and allied experience in the ongoing nation-building efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo would help to put the costs and challenges of Iraq into realistic and sobering perspective.
Jorge Santayana would be pleased. Nearly every policy proposal on Iraq these days mentions lessons learned from past interventions, such as postwar Germany and Japan, East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo. In the spirit of Santayana's famous dictum—"those who forget the past are destined to relive it"—analysts have been doggedly culling US state-building experience for lessons learned.
Exploring the wider relevance of US policy in Bosnia was hard enough when I first addressed it in the early 1990s. Then, the fate of all Southeastern Europe was in the balance—whether these countries would be connected to a Europe whole and free or detached as the dangerous, dysfunctional Balkans. Today, our continuing commitments in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) and Kosovo are inviting comparison and contrast to the much larger and more daunting American commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Although not an immediately obvious pairing, much can be learned from the fall of Serbia's autocracy that may be applied to Iraq. Both countries were isolated and run for a long time by forcefully imposed autocratic regimes that developed a breed of patriotism which did not allow for dissent. Opportunities for these two countries to cooperate were enhanced by the similar position of the two regimes under international sanctions and fighting for survival against a ‘common enemy.' Thus, not only do autocracies act similarly under similar conditions, but they also band together as they attempt to offset the ill effects of international pariah status. The reaction of the public in Serbia to the 1999 NATO campaign and the mind set that allowed for the continuation and at least temporary strengthening of Slobodan Milosevic's rule could have provided many clues, if not a template, for how Iraqis would behave under occupation. Moreover, the difficulties and slow pace of transformation in Serbia offer tips for state-building in Iraq.
284. Military Capabilities of the Central Europeans: What Can They Contribute to the Stabilization of Iraq?Jul 07, 2011
Among the three new NATO allies, only Poland has both the potential and the political will to meaningfully contribute to the stabilization mission in Iraq. In comparison, the Hungarian and Czech contributions have been and will likely remain small, limited to the symbolic troop deployment to the Polish and British zones, the continued access to Hungarian air space and the deployment of the Czech hospital assigned to the operation. Unlike the Hungarian and Czech governments, where support for US policy in Iraq has been quite tenuous, Poland has consistently backed the US position on Iraq despite increased friction with Germany—its core European partner. The Polish government has also been willing to back its political support with a substantial military contribution. Arguably, Poland has promised to deploy and command forces abroad that exceed the country's actual military capacity.
September 2007 - Over the past few months, the Biden-Gelb plan has been widely discussed as a solution for the faltering policy in Iraq. A major component of the plan is to decentralize power in Iraq—Bosnian style—to the three main ethnic and religious groups in an effort to end the civil war. While the applicability of the Bosnian model has been challenged in the press based on the differences in the circumstances under which the Dayton Agreement was signed in Bosnia and the current environment in Iraq, the desirability of the Bosnian model has largely gone unchallenged. This meeting aimed at bringing up some of the rather uncomfortable realities that the Dayton model created in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The debate on what to do in Iraq should not ignore the fact that-although the fighting in Bosnia has ended-inter-ethnic cooperation and dialogue have languished. Twelve years after Dayton, Bosnia is still far from the effective, sovereign and democratic state that the agreement had envisioned. In the end the Bosnian model may serve up more questions than answers for Iraq.