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Guidelines for Nation Builders

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Nation building, as commonly understood in the United States, involves the use of armed force as part of a broader effort to promote political and economic reforms with the objective of transforming a society emerging from conflict into one at peace with itself and its neighbors. In recent years the frequency of such operations has greatly increased. During the Cold War, the United States embarked upon a new military intervention on the average of about once a decade, while the United Nations launched a new peacekeeping mission on the average of once every four years. Few of these U.S. or United Nations-led operations developed into full-blown nation-building missions. Since the end of the Cold War, the pace of American military interventions has risen to about one every 2 years, while the frequency of new United Nations peacekeeping missions is up to nearly one every 6 months. The duration of these missions has also risen, most now lasting 5-10 years. The effect is thus cumulative. The United States finds itself manning three or four such interventions simultaneously, while the United Nations must manage up to two dozen different missions at the same time. The character of these undertakings has also evolved. During the Cold War, United Nations troops were usually deployed to separate combatants, police demilitarized zones, or monitor cease fires. In recent years, the objectives for these missions have expanded to include reuniting divided societies, disarming adversaries, demobilizing former combatants, organizing elections, installing representative governments, and promoting democratic reform and economic growth. But even with some notable setbacks, the overall impact of this heightened international activism has been beneficial. International military interventions have proved to be the best and, indeed, the only reliable means of preventing societies emerging from civil war from slipping back into conflict.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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