More Nation-Building On the Way?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate