Last year, on June 23, the President of the Bosnian Serb Republic Milorad Dodik stated that the Bosnian language does not exist. He claimed that only the Bosniak, Croat, and Serbian languages exist. In response, Bosniak parents moved their children from school into temporary classes to learn Bosnian instead of Bosniak.
The U.S. was born in war. Sometimes military action is necessary. But not often. Indeed, virtually never these days. Almost all of the conflicts so often initiated or joined by Washington implicate no important, let alone vital, interests. Most are far more likely to undermine than advance liberty and peace.
The lessons from Bosnia shaped responses to Rwanda, Kosovo, Macedonia, Cyprus, East Timor and the conflicts in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. In effect, the international community -- the Western one at least -- learned that stopping a war is hard enough; rebuilding a functional country is nearly impossible.
President Bush is most responsible for the ISIS deluge. The Obama administration has played a malign, but secondary, role. Like its predecessor, it also intervened too much rather than too little. For instance, President Obama continued to back Iraq's Maliki government despite the latter's sectarian excesses.
As nationalism may seduce the masses, so may vanity have the same effect upon individual diplomats engaged in conflict resolution. While some may debate what strategic interests, conspiracies or prejudices are at play in motivating policy, too frequently it may be the egos of the personalities involved.