Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq
Stigler, Andrew, Naval War College Review
Fukuyama, Francis, ed. Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2006. 262pp. $21.95
Given that Francis Fukuyama publicly retracted his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it is not surprising that his edited volume Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq should be generally critical of America's reconstruction efforts in those two countries. Still, readers of every perspective will find this volume a collection of well informed and insightful critiques of the American-led efforts at nation building in both countries, one that offers numerous useful caveats for the future.
Minxin Pei, Samia Amin, and Seth Garz offer an overview of the profound challenges of nation building. The record is not encouraging. For the fifteen reconstruction efforts America has concluded since 1989, a full eleven have failed to establish and sustain democratic governments. Based on their analysis, the oftencited examples of Japan and Germany are not representative.
Also, institutional shortcomings abound in the U.S. government. Michèle Flournoy observes that, outside the military, the U.S. government lacks a systematized effort to identify lessons learned from past experiences. Learning from such failures, while politically awkward, may be of crucial importance in the long struggle against terrorism. Sadly, there are also many institutional failures. Fukuyama observes that, strikingly, the United States put more effort into preparing for oil fires and a refugee crisis for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, largely because these were the challenges that arose during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait.
One unfortunate aspect of the book's organization is the considerable overlap between the six chapters that focus on Iraq and Afghanistan. …