The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building

The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building

The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building

The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building

Synopsis

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States, NATO, the United Nations, and a range of other states and nongovernmental organizations have become increasingly involved in nation-building operations. This volume presents a comprehensive history of best practices in nation-building and serves as an indispensable reference for planning future interventions.

Excerpt

The U.S. occupation of Iraq was marked by a series of unanticipated challenges and hastily improvised responses. U.S. officials did not foresee the looting that accompanied the fall of Baghdad, were not prepared for the disintegration of the Iraqi army or the collapse of most other Iraqi institutions, failed to appreciate the impact of years of sanctions and misgovernment on the Iraqi economy, and were surprised by the emergence of organized resistance. U.S. troops stood by while Iraq’s public property was ransacked. U.S. occupation authorities moved to disband the Iraqi military and dismiss thousands of senior Iraqi officials. Washington first assumed that Iraq’s reconstruction would be largely self-financing, and then initiated the largest bilateral U.S. aid program in history. Responsibility for managing this rebuilding effort was assigned to the U.S. Department of Defense, an agency without modern experience in postwar reconstruction.

A casual observer might conclude that the United States lacked experience in the field of nation-building. Appearances to the contrary, however, Iraq was not the first but the seventh society in a little more than a decade that the United States had entered to liberate and rebuild. In 1991, the United States liberated Kuwait. In 1992, U.S. troops went into Somalia, in 1994 into Haiti, in 1995 into Bosnia, in 1999 into Kosovo, and in 2001 into Afghanistan. Six of these seven societies were Muslim. Thus, by the time U.S. troops entered Iraq, no country in the world had more modern experience in nation-building than the United States. No Western military had more extensive recent practice operating within Muslim societies.

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