Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Nation-Building | Model Diplomacy

Nation-Building | Model Diplomacy


The term nation-building should be applied
to a very deep intervention in a country of the sort that we can do really when
we are in control. You go in, you defeat an army, you conquer a country; there is no
government except you. Now you have to engage in nation-building. The other
example would be a place that essentially had no government, like
Afghanistan, where in those ungoverned spaces, terrorists can grow and
ultimately threaten the United States so the president makes a decision: “this is
going to be costly, but it is more costly to leave it alone.” The goal of nation-building
when we do it is I think to change significantly another country’s
political structures and it requires the ability to make lots of changes. Every
piece of the infrastructure, every piece of the economic system, every piece of
the political and military system, comes under your control. It’s a very big task. The question of nation-building for the
United States is directly tied to the rise of the United States as a world
power. It worked pretty well in the cases of both Germany and Japan at the end of
World War II and they very quickly, within about five years, became real
democracies. In both of those cases we had a lot to build on: Germany for
example had been a democracy at the end of World War I. Both countries were very
advanced industrially. We weren’t creating, we were rebuilding – and that’s a
lot easier. The Korean War starts in 1950 and ultimately
we win South Korea; we have had troops in South Korea since 1950 and we kept
having to intervene, not militarily but politically. It’s a true democracy now, but
for many years it was a military dictatorship, so it really took a long
time. In Vietnam, of course, we ultimately failed in nation-building. The North Vietnamese
took over South Vietnam and established the communist government that is there
still. Once we were attacked on September 11th 2001, we kind of backed into
nation-building in Afghanistan and we went in there for one reason: al Qaeda
was headquartered in Afghanistan and we were gonna go after them. We then went into
Iraq in 2003. Most people would say those were two unsuccessful experiments with nation-building. Neither one is now really a democracy.
One of the problems we have here is we’re Americans: we say, “now we have to
build a democracy.” Why a democracy? Because we’re Americans, that’s what we believe in – and we
kind of edge into this nation-building almost without preparing for it. I don’t think nation building is a very
popular concept in the United States because people think it means very
expensive interventions elsewhere – expensive in money, expensive in blood. But there are
going to be cases where there is a widespread view that we should intervene.
There may be humanitarian cases where government is so vicious and genocidal
that there will be a widespread international view that “look, something
has to be done here!” One of the things we’ve learned about nation-building from
Afghanistan and Iraq is that we may not have the expertise to do it in a number
of cases. There are a lot of countries around the world that have the resources
to help us do this. One of the difficulties we run into is that it
usually follows a military intervention, but it’s not primarily a military
activity. We haven’t quite mastered the segue. There are a lot of negative
consequences when we intervene someplace and it doesn’t turn out well. The next
time we are contemplating doing something we may say “no” when the right
answer would have been “yes”. There has been a lot of discussion in the U.S. government
about: how we do this better? What kinds of expertise or what kinds of
capabilities do we need? So I think this is gonna be a perennial question.

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