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Global Master of Arts Program II, Third Term, 2005-2006 - page 14 / 15





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Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper, Lessons from the Past: The American Record of Nation Building (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2003).

Discussion Questions

  • 1.

    James Dobbins and his co-authors seek to analyze the best practices in "nation-building" from the post-World War II experiences of the United States. Is the term "nation building" even an accurate description of the American occupations of Germany and Japan after World War II and then in Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Iraq in the 1990s and 2000s? What are the implications of the distinction between "states" and "nations" for the success of U.S. and international intervention?

  • 2.

    The occupation of Iraq is the United States' sixth major state building effort since 1991. Dobbins and the other authors of the RAND study identify several factors the influence the ease or difficulty of such missions: the target state's prior democratic experience, its level of economic development, and its national homogeneity. However, among the factors that the occupying state controls, the most important determinants of success are amounts of time, troops, and money invested in the task. Short departure deadlines, therefore, are incompatible with nation building. Did the Bush administration, in effect, cripple its nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq from the start by not deploying sufficient numbers of troops (in both cases) and imposing artificial deadlines (in the case of the latter)?

  • 3.

    Writing shortly after the January 2005 Iraqi parliamentary elections, Daniel Byman argues that the United States has five "bad" options in dealing with the Sunni insurgency: first, stay the course; second, dramatically expand the U.S. and allied troop presence; third, moderately expand the troop presence and put more emphasis on counter- insurgency operations; fourth, draw down to a smaller force with a more limited mission; and fifth, complete withdrawal. He argues that fourth option—a draw down of U.S. and coalition forces—remains the best (or least bad) option that is also political realistic. Do you agree with Byman's assessment of these options?

  • 4.

    Ivan Arreguín-Toft offers a theory of asymmetric conflict to explain "how a weak actor's strategies can make a strong actor's power irrelevant." How well do Arreguín-Toft's hypotheses help us explain the dynamics the U.S. occupation of Iraq (post-May 2003)? Are the lessons that Arreguín-Toft draws from U.S. forces' experience in the Vietnam War relevant to low intensity conflict in Iraq and elsewhere?

Session 2: State Failure, Epidemic Diseases, Demography, and International Security Required Readings

Stephen D. Krasner, "Sharing Sovereignty: New Institutions for Collapsed and Failing States," International Security, vol. 29, no. 2 (fall 2004), pp. 85-120.

Stefan Elbe," HIV/AIDS and the Changing Landscape of War in Africa," International Security, vol. 27, no. 2 (fall 2002), pp. 159-177.

Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea Den Boer, "A Surplus of Men: Security and Sex Ratios in Asia's Largest States," International Security, vol. 26, no. 4 (spring 2002), pp. 5-38.

Recommended Reading

James D. Fearon and David D. Laitin, "Neotrusteeship and the Problem of Weak States," International Security, vol. 28, no. 4 (spring 2004), pp. 5-43.

Robert I. Rotberg, ed., Why States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).


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