Alternative Insight

From Conflagration to Disputation
Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq - Three Moments of Truth challenge U.S. foreign policies

Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq have reached their "moments of truth," the time for critical decisions that will form democratic and viable entities that bridge ethnic divides. The decisions will either vindicate U.S. foreign policies that steered the direction of the conflicts or indicate that U.S. policies have served as forces of destruction rather than construction.

The three embattled lands proceed to finalize their "nation building," and each one carries a legacy that is difficult to change.

  • Bosnia, years after the Dayton accords, remains a divided nation, with its ethnic groups separated from one another
  • Although Serbia still claims Kosovo as a province, Kosovars have declared their independence.
  • Iraq continues with insurgences that contest U.S. presence and resemble Civil Wars.

In Slavic and Arab lands, the worth of U.S. aggressive policies, that included military actions against Yugoslavia and Iraq, are being challenged.

This report is divided into three parts. A specific part can be addressed by using the link.

Part I - Bosnia
Part II - Kosovo
Part III - Iraq

History rightly condemns the Serbs for excessive force and brutal tactics during the hostilities. Nevertheless, history shows that Bosnian nationalists committed actions that initiated the war.

On February 29 and March 1, 1992, the Bosnian government held referendums on independence in which the Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks mostly voted in favour. The Bosnian Serbs boycotted the referendums and claimed they were unconstitutional: the Serb delegates in parliament had not approved them. With a 99% vote for independence on a turnout of 66% of eligible voters, the Bosniak and Croat representatives in Bosnia's parliament declared the republic's independence on April 5, 1992. The Serb delegates, having previously seceded over the violation of the Constitution, declared their own state of Republika Srpska at midnight on April 7.

Under pressure from Germany, the European Union countries recognized the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina by April 7. The United States quickly recognized the fledgling state, and the country was admitted to the United Nations on May 22, 1992.
Wikipedia/History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Intense warfare between the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Bosnian Serbs occurred immediately after the declaration of independence. The Bosniaks slightly outnumbered the Serbs, but the Serbs controlled more than 50% of the territory. From 1948 to 1991 the more rapid Muslim birth rate enabled the Bosniak population to become a plurality, but did not increase their territorial occupancy. After hostilities terminated, Serb refugees from the war and from neighboring wars moved to Srpska in greater numbers and modified the population distributions. The growth in populations of Bosnia Herzegovina from 1948 to 2003 is shown in Table I.

 Year  Muslim  Serb  Croat  Other
 1948  30.7%  44.3%  23.9%  1.1%
 1991  43.7%  31.4%  17.3%  8.6%
 *2003  40.0%  38.0%  22.0%  ---

The Ethnic Structure of the Population in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Milena Spasovski, Dragica Živkovic and Milomir Stepic, The Serbian Questions in The Balkans
*Source: CIA Handbook - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Late in the war, after an embargo on shipping weapons to Bosnia, the U.S., together with its NATO allies, assisted the Bosniak cause with intermittent air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions. NATO actions also served to punish the Serbs for excessive attacks against Bosniak areas. The August 30, 1995 attack by Serb artillery, that killed 37 persons in a Sarajevo market, brought a more decisive NATO reaction, and finally led to the November 1999 Dayton Conference. The Dayton peace agreements, that halted the war, arranged the map of Bosnia in almost the same manner as it had become divided at the initial start of the war (during the war, Serbs controlled 70% of the Bosnian Republic). The present Croat/Bosniak Federation covers 51% of the territory and Srpska (Serb Republic) is contained in 49% of the Bosnian nation.

Events indicate the Clinton administration welcomed an independent Bosnia state. They don't prove the Clinton administration conspired to detach Bosnia from Yugoslavia. The U.S. administration interfered in the conflict to halt the violence and permit the antagonists to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.
By convening the Dayton conference and finalizing accords that stopped the war, the Clinton administration succeeded (narrowly) in its endeavors, and deserves commendation for the efforts. By accommodating a Serb Republic, which controls 49% of the area of the Bosnia nation (pre-war maps indicate Serb populations occupied more than 50% of the Bosnian Republic area), the U.S. administration recognized the Serbs also had a legitimate right to self-government.

In the last decade, the three ethnic groups, Serb, Bosniak and Croat, have reinforced their detachment from one another. Serb and Croat reluctance to form an effective central government indicate that Bosnian independence was mostly a product of Bosniak initiatives and the Bosnian nationalists share culpability for the horrific events that occurred in 1992.

The Bosniak/Croat leaders realized that any separation from the Yugoslavia Federation would not be approved by the leaders of the Serb population. Although former Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic presented the idealistic view that:

Bosnian unity can be maintained only if Bosnia is organized as a
democratic and secular state which stresses the human and political rights of
all individuals rather than the rights of national or confessional groups,
and only a united Bosnia can be economically viable,

the declaration of independence, in effect, informed the Bosnian Serbs that they would be separated from their fellow Serbs in Yugoslavia and be subservient to a new and unknown Bosnian authority. Did the Bosniaks and Croats expect the Bosnian Serbs, who had major physical, economic and social control of Bosnia, to accept that proposition? The Bosniaks claimed sovereignty, although it was obvious that the Serbs had superior military power and had already shown they would ferociously use that power. Allowing foreign Muslim fighters to assist the Bosnian military (why didn't the western nations protest this action?) demeaned the image of the Bosniak government, added a religious dimension to the conflict and encouraged the rebellion of the Bosnian Serbs.

The Slovenia and Croatia declarations of independence from the Yugoslavia Federation in 1991 motivated Bosnia to follow its neighbors and seize the opportunity to form its own state. Opportunity did not knock on all doors. Independence was the not most rewarding path for all Bosnians. Bosnia might not have had an ideal position in what had become a Serbian Federation, but this was not a unique situation in the world of nations. Many nations that have complaints from contending minorities are still able to maintain cohesion. Canada (French minority), Spain (Basque minority), and many other countries have major ethnic groups and large minority groups that are well accommodated. The Bosniaks were not oppressed. They are Slavs and indistinguishable from the Slavic Serbs. If the Bosniaks had valid complaints, shouldn't they have presented their grievances to the constituted government, which was then a Republic in the Yugoslavia federation? Instead they went directly to a referendum for separation and never considered the choice of remaining as a Yugoslavian Republic.

The western European powers and the United States should have realized that an independent Bosnia could not readily succeed, and the Bosniaks might not benefit from separation from the Yugoslavia Federation. Western governments' recognitions of Bosnia and their delayed military support for the Bosniaks motvated the Serb leadership to quickly capture land and force the Bosniaks to leave. Serbian violence prompted NATO to retaliate and devise a rescue plan for Bosnia.

Optimism and spin reconcile Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats living in a single centralized state. The optimism is not realistic.

  • The political trend in December 2007 had the Serb Republic (Srpska) developing its own characteristics and the Croat population maintaining a quasi separation from the Bosniak population.
  • Bosnian leaders met for a three day meeting in Brussels on November 14, 2005. They adjourned after failing to reach agreement on a new draft constitution. They met again in Washington D.C. to observe the tenth anniversary of the Dayton peace accords and, at that meeting, they gave only a pledge to embark on a process of constitutional reform.
  • On 11 February 2008, in Banja Luka, the six main Bosnian Serb parties adopted a joint platform on planned changes to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s constitution. The platform envisages keeping the key elements of the Dayton peace accord that ended the 1992-95 war, but still leaves the country divided into two entities, arranged along ethnic divisions.

The lures of being integrated into the European Community (EU) and joining NATO have motivated Bosnia to review its actions. Either follow EU and NATO dictates and be able to join them or whither alone. The EU and NATO actions clearly demonstrate they have powers that can control the destinies of other nations, which is a dangerous condition. The international community constantly pressures Bosnia to amend its constitution. and recommends the changes. The proposals are still opposed by Sprska's Serbs, who remain concerned that the changes reduce their extensive self-government, and by Bosniak lawmakers, who argue the reforms are not sufficiently far-reaching in reintegrating the two entities.

The less disclosed observations:

  • Optimists cite the figure of one million refugees having returned to homes in Bosnia. (Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees). The one million figure is misleading: (1) Most of returnees are elderly who have no other place to locate. (2) Many refugees have returned temporarily to reclaim property and sell homes before moving to a more acceptable location. (3) Jobs are not available. Minorities realize they will be discriminated against in employment and education. Most will eventually prefer to leave.
  • What advantage is it to the Serb population to unite with ethnic groups with whom they have fought a vicious war? Enemies can live close without renewing violence, but would they want to unite and relive the experiences? Isn't it more likely Srpska will either remain separate or unite one day with Serbia that has a compatible population. The Dayton Accords contemplated the latter possibility by constructing Srpska so that it is contiguous, except for the shared Brcko District (see map above).
  • Serbian President Boris Tadic has threatened to argue that Srpska has a right to join with Serbia if Kosovo becomes an independent state. A November 2007 public opinion poll in Republika Srpska had 77 percent of Bosnian Serbs believing they should break away from Bosnia if Kosovo Albanians secede from Serbia.

All of Bosnia's peoples lost much from the conflict. Nevertheless, the Bosnian Muslims, the principal protagonist of the drama lost the most and might lose more in the future. It is possible that their Bosnia will be reduced to a small, powerless and economically deprived enclave in the center of the former Bosnia.

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The U.S. claimed that protection of the Albanian community guided its aggressive policy in the Kosovo conflict. Examination of the validity of that claim requires brief examinations of:

  • Serbian legal claims to Kosovo and its treatment of the Albanians,
  • Western diplomatic initiatives in attempts to prevent war,
  • The refugee crisis and who created it,
  • Legality of NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia, and
  • The future of Kosovo.

Serbian involvement in Kosovo
Serbian nationalism has Kosovo as the medieval center of a Serbian empire. As a result, Kosovo contains sites of Serbia's most sacred churches and monasteries. In 1389, the Serbs lost the land to the Ottoman Turks in a decisive battle fought in Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds. Serbia was unable to reincorporate Kosovo into its territory until 1912, immediately after the Balkan wars. Kosovo's status as a part of Serbia wavered between the two world wars. After World War II, the mostly Albanian populated land, became officially attached to Yugoslavia. The 1974 Yugoslavian Constitution designated Kosovo as an autonomous province within Serbia. After this consideration, the trouble started.

The greatly outnumbered Serbs constantly accused the Kosovo Albanians of mistreatment and unprovoked attacks. The anguish of his fellow Serbs moved newly elected Serbian Republic President Milosevic and, in 1990, he reacted, but too strongly. Milosevic revoked Kosovo's autonomy, and eventually dissolved the Kosovo Provincial Assembly. Kosovo Albanians( Kosovars) resisted their declining status and soon, as in all rebellions, a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), emerged. Attacks against Serbian security forces were countered, as they usually are in rebellions, by military actions against the rebels, which also affected the general population.

Although Kosovo was only a twentieth century addition to Serbia (~100 years), and 1.8 million ethnic Albanians greatly outnumbered 200,000 Serbs, the attachment of Kosovo to Serbia and the skewed demographics are not unique. Kurds occupy regions in Turkey, Iran and Iraq. Tamils occupy a region in Sri Lanka, a country created after World War II. Palestinians are 20% of the relatively new state of Israel. Basques and Catalans clamor for more autonomy within Spain. Northern Ireland's Catholic population argues they are being repressed by the British. What have nations done when their minorities became rebellious - except for Spain, they have reacted harshly; and in some cases more harsh then Milosevic acted against the Kosovo Albanians. What would the United States of America do if their Mexican minorities in California and Texas formed a liberation army and attacked American civilians and federal army posts?

Milosevic welcomed a solution to the conflict if it didn't compromise Yugoslavia's sovereignty. Western power diplomatic approaches to assist in the problem failed to consider Miliosevic's legitimate fears.

Western diplomatic initiatives
Milosevic could easily argue: "What right did other nations have to interfere in the internal problems of Yugoslavia, and why weren't they applying the same measures to nations with more serious internal conflicts?" Nevertheless, the Serb leader tacitly accepted initiatives to resolve the conflict, including some form of United Nations military buffers in Kosovo and many of the principal provisions of the complicated Rambouillet peace agreement. This agreement, presented at a conference in Paris in March1999, became a take-it-or- leave agreement for Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Albanians. The latter reluctantly signed the agreement before its expiration date. Milosevic refused the agreement, and for one principal reason - it indicated that NATO troops would be stationed in Kosovo and, by the agreement's wording, NATO "peacekeeping" forces could possibly be stationed in all of Yugoslavia, including Serbia.

The diplomatic initiative failed to relieve Milosevic's legitimate fear of having a strong foreign troop presence from nations that had already shown hostility to Serbia stationed at Serbia's borders . What national leader, representing the best interests of a nation, would have done otherwise?

Serbian disagreement to Rambouillet meant NATO was prepared to go to war, and even bomb the Yugoslavian republic. NATO's procession to a next stage in the conflict precipitated a mass refugee crisis.

The refugee crisis
A preponderance of media blame the Serbian government for the severe refugee crisis, in which almost one million Albanian Kosovars temporarily left their homes and moved into adjacent countries. For most refugees, the refuges were only 10-50 kilometers away. Massive NATO bombing of targets in Kosovo started on March 24. Massive refugee movements started on March 27. These two incidents are obviously related. Directly, or indirectly, the aerial war in Kosovo, that included bombings of Albanian villages, precipitated the refugee exodus.

In every war, civilians try to escape the ravages of the war. In the Kosovo war, geographic and social conditions facilitated the movement of refugees. Both Albanian and Serb refugees could quickly move to safer havens in the neighboring countries of Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and even Serbia, that had populations similar to their own, and where they were assured temporary relief by UN agencies and compatriots.

Some refugee movements occurred before the war and during a period of aggravated hostilities between Serb police and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). It is also possible, as some refugees alleged, that Serbian police threatened Albanian populations and urged them to leave. These threats, which were prompted by KLA attacks and killings of Serbian police and civilians, might have played a minor role in the refugee crisis. Nevertheless, logic contradicts the assumption that the Serb authorities caused the mass exodus:

  • Serbia had a decade to promote an Albanian exodus but during that time did not facilitate any mass exodus of Albanians.
  • Many Albanians entered Serbia in order to escape the bombings.
  • Serbia did not have the logistics and mechanisms to permanently remove the Albanians from all of Kosovo
  • Why would the Serbian government create a barren land? Serbs had not shown an eagerness to move to Kosovo.
  • After hostilities ceased, the refugees returned quickly to their homes , which indicated they had traveled light, not far and were prepared to return.

Two other significant facts:

Intelligence report from the (German) Foreign Office, January 12, 1999 to the Administrative Court of Trier (Az: 514-516.80/32 426):

Even in Kosovo an explicit political persecution linked to Albanian ethnicity is not verifiable. The East of Kosovo is still not involved in armed conflict. Public life in cities like Pristina, Urosevac, Gnjilan, etc. has, in the entire conflict period, continued on a relatively normal basis." The "actions of the security forces (were) not directed against the Kosovo-Albanians as an ethnically defined group, but against the military opponent and its actual or alleged supporters.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer contradicted the intelligence report. On April 6, 1999, two weeks after the start of the bombing campaign, Fischer spoke of an uncovered operational plan, termed Operation Horseshoe, which described a Serbian plan for a massive ethnic cleansing operation. The German Foreign Minister claimed the plan had been initiated in early March, one month before NATO attacks. Rudolf Scharping, the German Defense Minister, presented maps containing the names of towns and villages which showed arrows representing Serbian army and police militia units progressively encircling Kosovo in a horseshoe-shaped pincer movement.

Undoubtedly, if finally faced with no satisfactory alternative for directing Kosovo Albanians to follow its dictates, the Serbian government was prepared to elevate its force to pacify and contain the Albanian population in Kosovo. NATO attacks in Kosovo only impelled Serbian military to increase its desperation. What military would allow a subversive force in its midst, that could willingly and easily assist an aggression against its sovereignty, to remain undisturbed? Indirectly or directly, and mostly due to the latter, the NATO aerial war in Kosovo precipitated the mass exodus of refugees.

NATO enhanced its awkward and poorly conceived diplomatic strategy for resolving the Kosovo conflict by extending the bombing missions to the Yugoslavian capital and other Serbian regions.

Legality of NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia
How can it be legal for a foreign military organization, which was formed to take defensive actions against a military strike on western Europe, suddenly use its might in an offensive manner and attack a sovereign nation that has not harmed the organization's interests and has not declared war against it?

From March 24,1999 to June 10,1999 NATO aircraft flew over 38,000 combat sorties (
Source: Amnesty International Public document - AI Index EUR 70/025/2000) and dropped over 23,000 bombs and missiles on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).The civilian death tolls given in detailed FRY government accounts range from 400 to 600. (Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 7, 2000).

NATO's actions resolved the problems of the Kosovo Albanians. It didn't resolve the problems of the Kosovo Serbs or those of the western world. Kosovo is now faced with a new set of problems.

The Future of Kosovo
On February 17, 2008, the Kosovars declared their independence. Despite UN Security Council Resolution 1244 that recognized the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and ended the Kosovo war, the Kosovo war succeeded in detaching Kosovo from Serbia and the Kosovo Serbs from their Kosovo homeland.
The Albanians have Kosovo and the only ethnic cleansing has been the reduction of Serbs in Kosovo due to oppressive actions by the KLA. The Serbian minority population in Kosovo has been reduced, mainly by physical and psychological force, to ~100,000 from a pre-war total of ~200,000 to 250,000. The UN is now attempting to return many of these refugees to their former homes.

A November 10, 2005 Bulletin of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Serbia-Montenegro, described the most the Serbs could have hoped to achieve in negotiations:

BELGRADE, November 9, 2005-Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said Serbia's minimum in the negotiations on Kosovo consists of two stands: first to defend the present international status of its state borders with Albania and Macedonia, and second to obtain international guarantees for a European level of protection of the Serbs and other ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija.

Speaking for Serbia, a newsletter by the Serbian Atlantic Initiative Assn.Washington, D.C. December 2, 2005

Kosovo's Albanian majority can have the self rule they seek, but it should be as part of Serbia-Montenegro, not as an independent state. That is the essence of a proposal by Serbian President Boris Tadic that calls for partitioning the province along ethnic lines while retaining Serb sovereignty.

The Kosovo map gave a clue as to what would happen in any negotiations. Kosovo would obtain complete autonomy with a promise of a referendum for independence. Protection of the Serb minority would be assured and enforced. Already Prizren and Prisitina had been emptied of Serb populations. Eventually, the Serb areas that are contiguous with Serbia would be merged into Serbia, and Kosovo would become an independent state. The February 17, 2008 declaration leaped over all negotiations and established a fait accompli.

Was NATO's war against a sovereign state of Yugoslavia only an attempt to bring stability to an unstable area? That assumption is difficult to believe or defend. The world is replete with unstable situations, and several are in NATO's backyard - Northern Ireland, Basque Spain, and former Soviet Republics. The benefits that NATO gained in its war might have actually been its principal objectives. The war witnessed the almost complete collapse of the last Socialist state in Europe, and NATO had an opportunity to test offensive weapons, communications, command and control facilities and its air war logistics.

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The U.S. invasion of Iraq and its post-invasion operations have been characterized by doubtful suppositions, awkward planning and contradictions; a recipe for disaster.

U.S. policy towards Iraq vacillated during the decades. The history is well know, but still it must be emphasized that the U.S. assisted Saddam Hussein during the 1980's when his policies were considered most brutal and caused wars and instability throughout the Middle East. In the late 1990's, and up to the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam Hussein succeeded in pacifying the Iraq population and limiting dissent. His government constructed mosques and reached an accommodation with the Iraqi Shiites. As the sanctions eased, Iraq was becoming a more stable and unified nation, outside of the Kurdish province, where western nations assisted the Kurds in in their contempt for the central government.

Given that Iraq now has a preliminary constitution and government, and has had parliamentary elections, does that mean that U.S. policy in Iraq has succeeded? Where have U.S. policies placed Iraq today and where is it predicted to place Iraq in the future?

Iraq Today
There is little need to repeat the obvious: The Bush administration's initial claims for invading Iraq have proven false. President Bush's latest reason for being in Iraq is to face and defeat Al-Queda in Iraq in order to prevent fighting the terrorist group on American soil. Let's examine this premise:

(1) Al-Queda in Iraq only appeared in Iraq after the U.S. occupation, so how did the U.S. know it would be fighting terrorism in Iraq?
(2) Foreign terrorists are only a small part of the total insurgency.
(3) If Al-Queda is capable of entering the U.S. and contending Americans, why does it remain in Iraq ? Why doesn't it do that now?
(4) It's interesting that Bush specifies Iraq as America's chosen battlefield against Al-Queda (What happened to Afghanistan?). Tens of thousands of Iraqis are being killed and wounded. In effect, hasn't Bush said that Iraqis must be sacrificed so that Al-Queda does not make America its battlefield?
(5) If there were no Americans in Iraq, would there be Al-Queda operatives in Iraq?

The daily propaganda has Iraqis better off because the imprisonments and killings, alleged to the Saddam Hussein regime, no longer happen. As mentioned previously, the oppression happened more than a decade ago and what is alleged to have happened now seems difficult to prove.

Iraq: State of the Evidence
In the case of both documents and mass graves, U.S.-led coalition forces failed to secure the relevant sites at the time of the overthrow of the former government. They subsequently failed to put in place the professional expertise and assistance necessary to ensure proper classification and exhumation procedures, with the result that key evidentiary materials have been lost or tainted. In the case of mass graves, these failures also have frustrated the goal of enabling families to know the fate of missing relatives. The findings of the report are all the more disturbing against the backdrop of a tribunal established to bring justice for serious past crimes, the Iraqi Special Tribunal. Human Rights Watch has serious concerns that the tribunal is fundamentally flawed and may be incapable of delivering justice.
Human Rights Watch (

Number of Iraqi Mass Graves Cited in USAID Report Discredited
In an account that might be more aptly titled The Incredible Shrinking Mass Graves, the Observer revealed that a claim by Tony Blair that "400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves" was false and that only 5,000 bodies have been discovered so far. Tony Blair's claim was prominently featured in a report entitled Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves that was published by USAID and remains unchanged on its website.
Foreign Aid watch (

Allawi: Iraq Abuses As Bad As Under Saddam
Iraq's former interim prime minister complained Sunday that human rights abuses by some in the new government are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein.

Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite Muslim, told the London newspaper The Observer that fellow Shiites are responsible for death squads and secret torture centers and said brutality by elements of Iraqi security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police
ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer, Sun Nov 27, 4:39 PM ET, BAGHDAD, Iraq

Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force
BAGHDAD — Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews.
November 29, 2005 : World News

The government of Iraq today has advanced from the Hussein dictatorship and its partial democracy is one desirable development. Nevertheless, the political, economic and social conditions have not advanced.

  • Religious tolerance was credible during the Hussein regime (contrary to propaganda) and has deteriorated, especially for Christians.
  • The economy is stagnant compared to the 80's decade.
  • Women rights were prominent during the Hussein regime (contrary to propaganda) and have deteriorated.
  • The nation is much more unstable than before the invasion.
  • The separations of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis have intensified.
  • Brutality and oppression are comparable to Hussein's worst years.
  • Jailing and killing are comparable to Hussein's worst years.

The Iraq present has created a trajectory to Iraq's future.

The Future of Iraq
Iraq's future has a treacherous path.
The attacks on a Sunni population that has always been the more prosperous and better educated, and occupied the more prominent political and military positions in the Iraq nation, resemble the conditions in Rwanda of 1994. In the African state at that time, the Tutsi minority controlled the armed forces and much of the economy. After the Hutus sensed the Tutsi leadership was trying to maintain its advantages and was responsible for the death of the Rwanda president, the Hutus ferociously attacked the Tutsis. The Sunnis face a similar psychology of revenge. As the Shiites gain power they are turning their numerical superiority and newly acquired power into additional adjustments of power. Any attempts by Sunnis to maintain their power and limit Shiite power will stimulate provocations against the Sunnis. In effect, as in Rwanda, the Sunnis are in trouble - squeezed between the Kurds who contend them for oil rich Kirkuk and the Shiites who contend their leadership in Baghdad.

The Iraq map (courtesy of National Geographic News) shows the Sunni dilemma. Iraq's largest oil fields are in Rumaila, which is adjacent to Kuwait and under Shiite control, and in Kirkuk, which is south of Mosul and at the junction of Kurdish and Sunni territory. The Kurds claim that the city and its oil fields are a historical part of Kurdish lands and intend to control Kirkuk and its oil fields. Sunnis and Shiites might also struggle over the ownership of East Baghdad oil field and gas reserves, and control of the Syrian desert, which remains lightly populated and is predicted to have significant reserves. Control of petroleum, mentioned as the principal reason for U.S. extension into the Middle East, might also be another catalyst for civil war in Iraq.

The continuous revenge killings between Shiites and Sunnis, coupled with the anti-occupation insurgents being mostly Sunnis, indicates that a Civil War remains in motion. Previously, it seemed that the Sunnis and Shiites would not permit a breakup of Iraq, and would therefore join to neutralize Kurdish independence ambitions. Events, that have Iraq police, who are Shiites, attacking and torturing Sunnis, have changed the political perspective. The pronouncements of the most prominent Shiite leader reinforce the political changes:

Shiite Urges U.S. to Give Iraqis Leeway In Rebel Fight
Abdul Aziz Hakim, a Shiite cleric and leader of Iraq's most powerful political party, said the United States is tying Iraq's hands in the fight against rebels.He also renewed his call to merge half of Iraq's 18 provinces into a federal region in the oil-rich, heavily Shiite south.
Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post Foreign Service, November 27, 2005.

The "surge" has been credited with reducing casualties due to the insurgency to more acceptable numbers and behaving as a precursor for eventual pacification of Iraq. Close examination of the "surge" gives another interpretation. The "surge" is only a more deadly form of battle.

  • The "surge" contained a hidden element of quasi occupation of delicate areas by U.S. troops.
  • The "surge" featured attacks that take no prisoners and don't despair of collateral damage.
  • The "surge" occurred at a time after the insurgency had reached a peak and was due for exhaustion.
  • The "surge" has not resolved the economic and political problems created by the occupation.
  • The "surge" intensified the emigration of Iraqis.
  • The "surge" shifted the battleground from Baghdad to the Northern Kurdish areas.

Iraq seems destined to follow the general paths of Bosnia and Kosovo - decentralized government followed by autonomy and then by creation of independent states.

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In Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, U.S. policies have followed a similar pattern; diplomatic initiatives that contain unacceptable provisions, brutal military action that quickly ends the conflicts (not yet in Iraq), the breakup of the lands (not yet in Iraq) followed by possible additional decentralization or partitioning. Conflagration leading to disputation, separation leading to additional argumentation, destruction of sovereign nations rather than construction of national supports characterize U.S. policies in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. Yugoslavia and Iraq, not considered great friends of the United States, have been crippled, possibly forever. And now it is becoming apparent that wars to end violence have precipitated a new Cold war and a new realignment of nations.

Were the destructions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq the principal purposes of U.S. interference in the internal conflicts of the Balkan and Middle East nations or are they all just coincidences?

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alternative insight
dec 1, 2005
updated February 19. 2008