It is called an “indicator”
Saying Bosnia still reaps “a bitter harvest of hatred,” President Clinton announced Friday that the United States was prepared to keep thousands of troops in the shattered Balkan nation for an additional 18 months.
Nearly one year  after telling the American people that United States troops would serve in Bosnia for about one year, Clinton said he was informing the NATO alliance that “in principle, the United States will take part in a follow-on force in Bosnia” to protect the fragile peace.
And now . . .
The fortresslike compound rising beside the Tigris River here will be the world’s largest of its kind, the size of Vatican City, with the population of a small town, its own defense force, self-contained power and water, and a precarious perch at the heart of Iraq’s turbulent future.
I was in the former location a decade ago and at the time was amused to learn that far from winding down our involvement in the Balkans, contractors were pouring the foundation for a new HQ facility to replace the resort SFOR had appropriated. Last time I checked we were still looking for people to pull tours in Sarajevo and related hinterlands.
Smart? Well, what used to be Yugoslavia is no picnic area, but neither is it the killing fields of the mid-90s. Life might be better as a mobster than a shopkeeper, but by and large you don’t have to worry about your neighbor deciding to wake up one morning, cut your head off and rape the women in your family. In part this is because should that kind of mayhem erupt again, there is a force nearby that – unlike the blue helmets – won’t stand by and let the bad guys of the day slaughter your men and boys.
People make a lot of hay over “civil war” and “sectarian strife” taking place in Iraq. Were we truly concerned that civil war was an actuality we wouldn’t be preparing for the long haul. You can paint the political changes in Lebanon and Egypt as a whitewash if you like, but we’re not the only people who learn lessons related to our wars. Being anti-American (or anti-close-the-gap) gets a lot harder when an armored division is just a few hours down the road.