More Nation-Building On the Way?

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I don’t know who this James Dobbins fellow is, but he sure does make a good point in the Wall Street Journal today regarding the Pentagon’s new push to focus more on “nation building” in the wake of Iraq:

“There is wide recognition of the need to professionalize our response to postwar challenges,” says James Dobbins, who oversaw a host of U.S. rebuilding efforts during the 1990s, mainly at the State Department, and who is now at the Rand Corp. think tank. “But there is also a whole range of criticism that says, ‘If we get better at this, we might start doing it more often.’ “

It’s almost enough to make one wish that the military’s ‘China hawks’—those who want to buy expensive new nuclear submarines rather than create more peacekeeping units—get their way. Well, almost. John Robb pointed out awhile back that some foreign policy strategists, notably Thomas Barnett, are hoping that the military’s new nation-building forces will be used to “sweep the world of failed states and accelerate the end of history.” Robb, by contrast, says that doing so “will only result in buckets of grief, blood, and red ink.” In a related vein, David Chandler’s essay from last October, “How ‘State-Building’ Weakens States,” is a good counterpoint to the interventionist view.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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