"Summary: The current debate over the United States’ failures in Iraq needs to go beyond bumper-sticker conclusions – no more preemption, no more democracy promotion, no more nation building – and acrimonious finger-pointing. Only by carefully considering where U.S. leaders, institutions, and policies have been at fault can valuable lessons be learned and future debacles avoided.
James Dobbins directs the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation and served as Assistant Secretary of State under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He was the Clinton administration’s special envoy to Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Somalia and the Bush administration’s first envoy to Afghanistan."[/i]
Well yes…there’s that. Dobbins is a rather well known professional academic who makes his business surveying and assessing the results of ‘interventions’ and ‘nation building’ post armed conflict. He came to flower during the Clinton* years Bosnia-Kosovo fighting and was appointed “Special Envoy” to that area and Afghanistan during the early G.W. Bush years. Knowledgeable area people were hard to find and, I suppose, his name was already on the list.
What he was saying approx. 2 years ago. Gives a bit of perspective and depth on his comments in the posted article.
[quote]"Described as a veteran diplomatic troubleshooter, Dobbins has had much firsthand experience in nation building, a notion that was highly controversial in the 1990s and in to the current decade, he said. In 2001, following the attack on the World Trade Center, Dobbins was designated as the Bush administration’s representative to the Afghan opposition. He helped organize and then represented the United States at the Bonn Conference where a new Afghan government was formed. And, on Dec. 16, 2001, he presided over the raising of the U.S. flag over the reopened U.S. Embassy.
"Of the U.S. operations in Kosovo during the Clinton administration he said, “…in may ways it was the best organized, the most robust, the best resourced,” said Dobbins. He emphasized that in the case of Kosovo that the need was recognized to apply civil assets and resources that the military does not, and was not going to, provide. But, of the post 9-11 intervention, “There clearly was a discontinuity in the American approach,” said Dobbins.
“If we had anticipated – as we should have – based on our experience of the previous 10 years, that when Saddam fell his government would disintegrate, his security forces would evaporate, that a vacuum of power would open overnight, that that vacuum would be filled instantly by a combination of criminal and politically extreme elements, that if those elements were not successfully challenged they would have time to consolidate, to gain confidence, to intimidate the population…” That is exactly what happened, said Dobbins.
Dobbins also pointed out in each one of the cases examined, that following U.S. military intervention, which may have involved relatively few troops, “it took tens of thousands more to actually stabilize the country.” “So why wouldn’t you think it was going to take more troops to stabilize Iraq than it was going to topple Saddam. It is what happened every time in the last six occasions. And yet there was an unwillingness to look at those as relevant examples.” But, he pointed out that the focus on Iraq and setbacks encountered there “give a false impression of the utility of this form of international action more generally.” Dobbins, who recently published the related title, The UN’s Role in Nation Building: From the Congo to Iraq, (Rand, 2005) said, “The majority of these interventions have been successful and yielded very beneficial results.”
Dobbins concluded by saying that while the administration hasn’t been quick to acknowledge its mistakes, “it has been pretty good about correcting them.” He added that nation building is now a core function of the U.S. military. And, while saying that these kinds of operations are going to continue, “ideally we are going to be doing them more multinationally, more selectively, but if we are going to do them, we might as well get better.”
Another academic making the assumption that the role of the military should be “nation building” and then being quick to show the blatant problems this incurs upon a group whose mission is destroying an enemy.
While I do not disagree with everything Mr. Dobbins writes, I do think it is from a particular position and rather narrowly focused to support that position.
But isn’t just about everything?