Nation building

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Nation building is "the idea of invading and occupying a land afflicted by dictatorship or civil war and turning it into a democracy."[1]

Nation building is a controversial diplomatic and military initiative favored by neoconservatives, but generally opposed by conservatives. American government officials and others have expressed different opinions about its wisdom and practicality, particularly in regards to post-war Iraq.

Views of President Bush

According to the Boston Globe, George W. Bush (then governor of Texas) said the following on Oct. 11, 2000:

  • I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation-building.
  • I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have a kind of nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not.[2]

Views of General Caldwell

The 2008 Army Field Manual on Operations was released in March 2008 by Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

  • it makes the "stability of a nation" just as vital to success as offensive or defensive combat operations.[3]
  • the manual's third directive, titled "stability operations," focuses on nation-building.

Views of General Vallely

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely said in 2008 that efforts to rebuild in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed a serious financial strain on an Army whose job is to "win war" not "build nations."[3]

A conservative view

Political scientist James L. Payne wrote:

  • The nation-building idea has a critical, generally overlooked, gap: who knows how to do it? Pundits and presidents talk about nation building as if it were a settled technology, like building bridges or removing gall bladders.
  • Nation building by military force is not a coherent, defensible policy. It is based on no theory, it has no proven technique or methodology, and there are no experts who know how to do it.[4]


External links