US Should Embrace Nation-Building In Effort To Address Failed States

US Needs A Broad Strategy To Address Failed States
A recent working paper completed by Pauline Baker and Eric Ham outlines core principles around which the United States should design a comprehensive strategy to help states address the weaknesses that prevent them from becoming successful states.

Baker, who works for the Fund for Peace, and Ham, who works for the private firm Global Political Solutions, wrote the paper for the Society for Internal Development in conjunction with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Administrations Often Fail Due To Crisis Mentality
The paper is partly a response to the failure by Republican and Democratic administrations to formulate a long-term strategy that is more than reactionary policy catered to crisis response.

The time has come, Baker and Ham argue, for a “strategy for addressing the underlying causes of state fragility that is both preventative and responsive. Such a strategy would enable the U.S. to focus on helping states move from fragility to stability, not merely on reacting to the symptoms of fragility from one crisis to the next.”

US Needs To Engage, Partner With International Community
Their proposal suggests that policymakers in Washington identify potential host governments willing to form partnerships in state-building. They also recommend Washington reach out to enhance cooperation and coordination with the business community and multinational organizations with the aim of fostering economic opportunity.

To reflect the importance of tending to failed states, they recommend making any initiatives part of the National Defense Strategy.

Nation-Building Is Not International Charity
A 2012 report by Paul D. Miller of the National Defense University’s Center for Complex Operations echoes Baker and Ham’s commitment to utilizing existing international and regional groups to address failed states. For any policy to reap success, he contends, nation-building must be understood and viewed in its proper perspective.

Miller stresses that it is not “international charity” or “a superfluous, dispensable exercise in appeasing Western guilt, an expensive tribute to humanitarianism, or an act of unvarnished selflessness and goodwill.”

Rather, he writes, it is “a necessary response to the danger of failed states that threaten regional stability. It is a strategic investment in weak states to increase their capacities.”

In fact, nation-building was a core component of US foreign policy during the Cold War, but the international community “abruptly grew gun-shy after poor implementation  in a few early missions caused policymakers to doubt its feasibility and relevance.”



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