- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

Most of the leading think tanks in America (and the world) are located in Washington, D.C. and its nearest suburbs. Most of these organizations produce carefully written, well vetted books of merit, but those books and other publications are rarely on shelves in book stores, and are seldom reviewed in major publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

But The Washington Times reviews books other newspapers infrequently analyze and the think tank volumes can be found on Amazon.com. They also can be easily located on Google. For the most part, only those who are already familiar with think tank output are likely to know about such publications. That needs to be changed.

Below is a review article that deals with stabilization and reconstruction issues and with what our coalition partners and we are doing in Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. Each of the works discussed comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies Press. CSIS is one of Washington’s highly-regarded think tanks.

Winning thePeace:AnAmericanStrategyforPost-Conflict Reconstruction, (CSIS, $24.95, 353 pages), edited by Robert Orr, is 17 chapters of useful wisdom and case studies indicating how the United States should posture itself and execute this most important phase of civil/military operations.

Mr. Orr, like most of the people at CSIS, is a credentialed practitioner. He is a recognized scholar who has been tested by doctorate-holding peers who also has relevant experience in the field he is examining.

What does CSIS advise regarding stabilization and reconstruction, often called nation-building? CSIS asserts: “failed states matter.” The burden “on the United States to rebuild countries — for their own good and our own — show no sign of abating. Indeed, we might expect post-conflict reconstruction to be a fixture of international life in the” 21st century. “With global terrorism a reality, the United States does not have the luxury of ignoring troubled countries no matter how small, how poor, or how distant.”

Mr. Orr and his co-authors argue there are “four pillars of reconstruction: security; governance and participation; economic and social well-being; and justice and reconciliation.” To reconstruct a broken society all of these props must be constructed, and while all can be worked simultaneously, the order is significant. None of the latter three can be accomplished without security.

The United States was able to provide it in Germany and Japan after World War II and the other essential reconstruction components followed suit. Where reconstruction has failed — in Somalia and Haiti, for two examples — and where it is failing — the Congo for a deteriorating United Nations effort and Kosovo — security is lacking.

One must assiduously plan for and execute security operations. Similarly, with “participation and governance.” There will be no peace in Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, or Afghanistan if difficult and seminal participation issues are not solved, and meaningful involvement is workable only if a valid governance apparatus is established where no sizeable minority is humiliated, powerless, or victimized. And these indispensable pillars depend entirely on security for all parties being first instituted.

As crucial is economic and social well-being. If the economy is not right, nothing will ever be right. What is needed to create a suitable and legitimate economy is security and good governance to promote foreign direct investment. Foreign aid is minuscule in world finance by comparison to foreign direct investment. Kosovo suffers from 50 percent unemployment and it is always boiling. Peace enforcers from NATO and elsewhere will never be able to leave until the economy is working properly.

Finally justice and reconciliation is basic if reconstruction is to last. If it can be done in South Africa and the Czech Republic after the severe racism of the former and totalitarianism in the latter, it can be done anywhere. But the people must believe themselves secure, they must be a part of their own governing, and they must be gainfully working.

“Winning the Peace” is a pragmatic guide (complete with a detailed 21-page checklist called a “framework”) indicating where reconstruction has succeeded and failed. It is essential reading for those in government and elsewhere in this business or those whose taxes pay for it.

• • •

In the same vein, Anthony Cordesman has written TheWarAftertheWar:StrategicLessonsofIraqandAfghanistan (CSIS Press, $15.95, 73 pages). He is one of Washington’s strongest strategic thinkers, and his short book is packed with useful thinking about nation-building in the two countries the United States is most focused on.

Some samples of his thought:

“Strategic engagement requires an objective — not an ideological-assessment of the problems that demand action and of the size and cost of the effort necessary to achieve decisive grand strategic results … .”

“There is no alternative to internationalism … .U.S. strategy must be based on seeking consensus wherever possible, on compromise when necessary, and on coalitions that underpin virtually every action the United States takes … .”

“In practice, the U.S. challenge is to subordinate U.S. arrogance to the end of achieving true partnership and to shape diplomacy to create lasting coalitions of the truly willing instead of collations of the pressured or intimidated … .”

“Neither the addition of troops nor their diminution through the use of technology will solve America’s skilled-manpower problems. The missions that are emerging require skilled and well-trained troops with area expertise, linguists in far greater numbers, and specialists in civic action and national building as well as guerilla warfare … .”

“Jointness cannot be limited to restructuring the U.S. military; the problem it addresses is larger than that. Jointness must occur within the entire executive branch, for civil minded jointess as well as military-military jointness. A national security affairs adviser whose job is simply advisory is a failed national security affairs adviser; effective leadership is required to force coordination on the U.S. national security process.” There is great insight herein.

• • •

Clark Murdock after writing the foundation chapters to ImprovingthePracticeofNationalSecurityStrategy:ANewApproachforthePost-ColdWarWorld (CSIS Press, $21.95, 190 pages) then edited 10 chapters, many of which in a book for strategy practitioners, deal with nation-building.

Mr. Murdock, wisely, separates “grand strategy” from “strategy:” “Grand strategy is concerned with doing the right job; strategy is doing the job right.” One of those “jobs” is nation-building, and Murdock’s chapters on Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Rwanda, and Mexico are exceptionally illuminating.

Alan Gropman is a Distinguished Professor at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University. He has been teaching a course called Think Tanks for 26 semesters. His views are his own.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide