Sir Winston Churchill once wrote that the Balkans produce more history
than they can consume. It is tempting to add that much of that history is
related to BiH; war and peace in BiH has implications well beyond its
borders. Over the last decade, attention in the Balkans has shifted towards
Serbia and Kosovo, but nevertheless the task of implementing a sustainable
peace in BiH has not been completed, and will not be completed for some
time to come. Lord Ashdown offers an insightful perspective:1
What follows is an overview of lessons identified during the defence-
reform process, which is itself only one aspect of the healing process.
Reconciliation in its proper sense, built on mutual trust and respect, will take
more than another generation. The scars of disintegration and conflict are
deep and wide, and the healing process has not truly been allowed to begin. While acknowledging that the process has not yet been completed,2
defence reform has been more successful than any other reform in BiH.
Particularly in recent years, it has helped stabilise the peace in a period of severe political flux (marked by tensions between the various party leaders, constituent peoples, and an extended period of time without a central government); significant economic challenges (a very high unemployment rate, structural weaknesses and rampant corruption); and rumblings along a series of other societal fault lines. Despite this difficult and unforgiving environment, the defence establishment continues to move closer to the standards set for NATO membership. Other institutions in BiH are beginning to play their part as well.