Monday, October 25, 2004

Unilteral Nation Building: Lessons from Histroy

While much is being publicised about how Iraq, with the help of International Community will be the next example of Nation-Building (and will emerge as a vibrant democracy in the middle-east), the history sees to indicate otherise.

This policy brief from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace throws up some dissonant facts about American Record on Nation Building:

  • During the last century, US has made around 200 military interventions around the world.

  • Based on 3 criteria, viz.,
    1. declared goal of "regime change" or "saving a regime",
    2. deployment and long-term commitment of large number of ground troops, and
    3. deep involvement in the political process through use of American military and civilian processes),

    only 16/200 would qualify as efforts towards "Nation Building"

  • Of these 16, in only 4 democracy could survive 10 years after the departure of US forces.

  • Of the 4 successful transitions to democracy, 2 nations (Panama and Granada were really small, with a population of >3mn and 0.1mn, respectively)

  • The other 2 much quoted examples of successful Nation Building - Germany and Japan - had many similar characteristics (which contrast with the situation in Iraq):
    1. both of these countries were homogenous societies with no dominant conflicting interest groups,
    2. had previous experience of constitutionalism, and
    3. the popular (and soemtime elite) interests were aligned to those of the US.

  • Not a single US-supported Surrogate Regime could make a transition to democracy in the post-conflict period.

    ... the full report/ Policy brief is available at:

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