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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Can New Kill Level Trigger New Strategy?

Norwegian UN troops on their way up Sniper Alley in Sarajevo, November 1995. PHOTO: Paalso

Many argued against more western involvement. Resistance was strong within both the US and the UN. But close to three hundred thousand people had been killed. Am I talking about the war in Syria? No, I am talking about another and not that distant war.

In the former Yugoslavia about three hundred thousand people were killed in the fighting between 1991 and 1995. The other day I heard that the total number of killed in Syria has now probably reached three hundred thousand. In other words, the Balkan kill level from 1995 has now been reached in Syria. I do not believe that the 1995 Bosnian intervention is a step-by-step instruction for what should be done now in Syria. But this I do believe: it would be an enormous waste to now not study what brought the war in Bosnia to an end. Some of the bloody Balkan lessons are still relevant. Sure, there are many important differences, not least IS(IS) and the New Cold War. But consider also how many different groups were a part of the Bosnian puzzle and how unstoppable the wars seemed.

One starting point is to pick up and read a copy of To End A War by chief negotiator Richard Holbrooke. This is my simple message to you: read it.

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