Accession Number:



Time Lag and Sequencing Dilemmas of Postconflict Reconstruction

Descriptive Note:

Journal Article

Corporate Author:

Georgetown University Washington United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The United States appears to be moving to a whole-of-government approach to address the challenges of failed states and postconflict reconstruction without a full understanding of its implications. The most often observed weakness in U.S. foreign policy architecture is the imbalance among the three elements of national power defense, diplomacy, and development the three Ds. Some critics argue that the Pentagon dominates field operations and the interagency process not only because of its massive staff, enormous budget, and highly developed planning and operations culture but also because of the relative weakness of diplomacy and development. Linking development and diplomacy, however, is a mistake. While they do share the common problem of being weak compared to the defense establishment, beyond this they are unalike in every important way. Both defense and diplomacy share a common short-term time horizon inconsistent with that of development, which requires a longer timeframe for planning and success. The demands made by the U.S. defense and diplomatic establishments of development agencies usually the U.S. Agency for International Development USAID in the case of the U.S. Government during and following conflicts contradict good development practice and the dynamics of collapsed states. Defense and diplomacy demand more immediate results than what are achievable given the nature of social change and institution-building in the postconflict setting. When the results produced by aid programs are not what the other agencies of the U.S. Government expect, aid or development is said to have failed when in fact the demands were inconsistent with historical and developmental reality. The discontinuities among the three Ds most often involve time.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement: