Friday, January 30, 2009
Do We Need a Nation-Building Service?
Is it not more efficient to preserv nations than to bust them first, followed by dubious attemots at "Nation Building"?
If we rely on military officers to perform an increasing number of civilian tasks outside the country, we also place them in conflict with the separation of civil and military authority here at home. What we need is to limit the role of armed forces to well-defined military missions and leave everything else we do abroad to civilians. If there is a shortage of civilian capabilities, then that is a matter to be addressed as a civilian need and not patched by recruiting from the military.
On the question of nation-building, there is also the practical question of how much longer the United States can entertain this idea. A more explicitly militarized foreign policy can at best delay and may in fact accelerate the relative decline of American power.
It should be noted that the British colonial service (and its counterpart services in India) for the most part practiced a policy known as "indirect rule," in which local societies were left alone and not rebuilt as Western-style nations.