Richard Holbrooke is most known for his brokering of the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia. Friday, he addressed a group at the Bush Library, lending his vast knowledge of ethnic conflict in the world.
"The more easily people can buy guns, the more easily people can stir each other up with bad history and propaganda, the worse it gets," Holbrooke said, "so we have to attack this problem directly."
Holbrooke spoke as part of the Student Conference on National Affairs, the Humphrys International Speakers Program, and the on-going Counterintelligence conference. Former President Bush was in attendance for the majority of the speech, which followed his tsunami presentation.
Holbrooke called ethnic conflict the world's most complicated issue, and one of the three most pressing, along with the war on terror and AIDS. The former UN ambassador noted the move by many ethnic groups to try to form their own countries. He specifically cited cases in Eastern Europe post-Soviet rule. Yugoslavia, he noted, has now splintered into five countries, and that number could potentially grow to seven in the next two years. Holbrooke also noted the Kurdish conflict in Iraq, as well as numerous conflicts past and present in Africa.
In an interview with News 3, Holbrooke answered the question of what roles schools like A&M can play in ending ethnic conflict. "If you teach children -- young people -- bad history, they can become advocates of ethnic conflict," he said. "This isn't just 10 year olds. History matters, and so universities have an obligation to the truth. Texas A&M is doing something very important."