Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders [NOOK Book]


In May 2003, President George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq. But
while we won the war, we catastrophically lost the peace. Our failure
prompted a fundamental change in our foreign policy. Confronted with the
shortcomings of "shock ...
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Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders

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In May 2003, President George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq. But
while we won the war, we catastrophically lost the peace. Our failure
prompted a fundamental change in our foreign policy. Confronted with the
shortcomings of "shock and awe," the U.S. military shifted its focus to
"stability operations": counterinsurgency and the rebuilding of failed
states. In less than a decade, foreign assistance has become
militarized; humanitarianism has been armed.

Combining recent history and firsthand reporting, Armed Humanitarians
traces how the concepts of nation-building came into vogue, and how,
evangelized through think tanks, government seminars, and the press,
this new doctrine took root inside the Pentagon and the State
Department. Following this extraordinary experiment in armed social work
as it plays out from Afghanistan and Iraq to Africa and Haiti, Nathan
Hodge exposes the difficulties of translating these ambitious new
theories into action.

Ultimately seeing this new era in foreign
relations as a noble but flawed experiment, he shows how armed
humanitarianism strains our resources, deepens our reliance on
outsourcing and private contractors, and leads to perceptions of a new
imperialism, arguably a major factor in any number of new conflicts
around the world. As we attempt to build nations, we may in fact be
weakening our own.

Nathan Hodge is a Washington, D.C.-based writer
who specializes in defense and national security. He has reported from
Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and a number of other countries in the
Middle East and former Soviet Union. He is the author, with Sharon
Weinberger, of A Nuclear Family Vacation, and his work has appeared in Slate, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, and many other newspapers and magazines.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Hodge (coauthor of A Nuclear Family Vacation), a journalist specializing in defense and national security issues, takes a critical look at the post-9/11 shift in U.S. foreign policy toward nation building in a timely and balanced account. Drawing upon firsthand reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan and extensive interviews with key figures behind the shift, the author traces how the initial failure to secure Afghanistan and Iraq led to the "military's embrace of counterinsurgency"--a shift to "armed social work" that blended force and humanitarianism and became the new face of American foreign policy. Hodge locates the origins of the new paradigm in the work of defense intellectuals like Thomas Barnett (The Pentagon's New Map) and the support of a cadre of military officers, led by Gen. David Petraeus, who embedded the doctrine in the military's counterinsurgency manual and oversaw its adoption during the 2007 surge. While acknowledging some tentative successes, the author argues that nation building detracts from the military's primary mission and is best left to development and diplomatic agencies. Hodge calls for a national conversation on the issue of nation building, and his carefully reported and sprightly written critique is a good place to begin. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews

A journalist specializing in military matters reports on the war on terror's transformation into "a campaign of armed social work."

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, no agency responded more quickly, effectively and comprehensively than the U.S. military. Hodge (co-author:A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry, 2008) attributes this sterling performance to practice and to lessons gleaned from a decade of fighting in and administering Afghanistan and Iraq, where the military has incorporated "soft power" principles to counterinsurgencies. The combined military, political, diplomatic, developmental and humanitarian push to win the good will of the local populations constitutes the heart of the surge strategy most closely identified with Gen. David Petraeus and has, for now, staved off disaster. But the new focus on "stability operations," the euphemism for what had, before 9/11, been discredited as the wholly unsuitable mission of nation building, brings its own set of problems. Hodge discusses many of them: the opportunities for fraud and waste when cash is used as a weapon, the command and control issues arising when so many tasks are outsourced to private enterprise, the private aid groups' fears of co-option, the skittish and unprepared Foreign Service and the dangers of a host government's dependency on projects and programs intended only as bridges to self-rule. The author examines the historical antecedents for today's new generation of nation builders—the goal of winning hearts and minds is hardly new—and charts their rise to power within the government bureaucracies. In his fast-moving, well-argued assessment, he warns about a military stretched too thin, distracted from its primary mission of fighting and winning wars; about a U.S. treasury strained to the breaking point; and about the huge and clumsy footprint often left by the new class of soldier/diplomats.

For a civilian readership increasingly alienated from the culture of its military, Hodge provides an important guide to what the reformers have wrought.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608194452
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,170,990
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Nathan Hodge is a Washington DC-based writer for Jane's Defence Weekly. A frequent contributor to Slate, he has reported extensively from Afghanistan, Iraq and the former Soviet Union. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, Foreign Policy and Details, as well as many other newspapers and magazines.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: Port-au-Prince, February 2010 1

Part I Winning the War, Losing the Peace

1 Absolute Beginners 25

2 The PowerPoint Warrior 44

3 "Beat 'em Up and Go Home" 60

4 The Other War 81

5 Cash as a Weapon 104

Part II History Lessons

6 The Phoenix Rises 123

7 The Accidental Counterinsurgents 141

Part III Theory into Practice

8 Wingtips on the Ground 165

9 Kalashnikovs for Hire 186

10 Peace Corps on Steroids 208

11 Windshield Ethnographers 231

12 Obama's War 257

Conclusion: Foreign Policy Out of Balance 285

Acknowledgments 301

Notes 305

Select Bibliography 323

Index 329

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