The US Military’s Epic Fail

7 Jun

When America’s Army invades any country that results in the long term occupation of that country, they have a huge influence on the structure of the new government and economy of that nation. Recently the United State failed on a massive scale, trying to reestablish several nations that were recently occupied. The conflicts include: Iraq and Afghanistan. Both do not have strong capitalistic or high growth economies. Instead, these countries rely on American institutions like the military’s rebuilding efforts to sustain growth, which pushes them into a new model of dependency. This has led to weaker economies. Very little growth of businesses stifles the growth of jobs. Even safety becomes a question!

In many cases civilian resentment towards the occupying US has resulted in more regional terrorism. The US has not only lost out on the potential soft power gains, but is losing some hard power as well. Our army is physically strained having to fight on two fronts. But it’s safe to say they fight better than they rebuild. I am not saying nation-building is an easy task, but I believe that our government never learned from our past efforts.

One key is to allow the people in that nation need to help build the governmental structure, the economic controls, and even the physical planning and construction of their new society.

If we keep funding them and building them and pushing them towards a pro-American model why won’t this simply turn into another Iran or western Puppet Dictatorship?

Often times the US model for rebuilding has centered on the capital city mainly because they are the economic and political centers that are already well established. While a centralized government in Baghdad is easy for the US to protect and control, there are problems if we force the system on the Iraqis. In Iraq, if all the growth occurs in the capital and we ignore the periphery, it will likely increase the chances of a civil war. The religious divisions that have been there for hundreds of years between the Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish populations will only result in more political tensions that can result in further sectarian violence. And with so much economic dependency on US aid, giving more to one group than another could quickly spark the same kind of post colonial civil conflicts seen throughout the 20th century.

In Afghanistan it is geographically difficult to connect the many differing tribes and regions into one cohesive state. By trying to create a strong Kabul, we only alienate ourselves and waste more aid. Our troops have time and again been seen as an extension of Kabul, trying to impose a governmental authority on people who don’t want anything and would barely receive any funds from the government. Furthermore, we have allowed massive corruption to ensue. There is even evidence that president Karzai’s brother is one of the biggest corrupt criminals in the nation, quietly weakening the civil society of this new nation. We need a model that allows for more organic growth and organization from a political and economic standard. Both Iraq and Afghanistan’s economies are almost entirely supplied by American foreign aid and a single resource: Oil production from Iraq and in Afghanistan, opium.

The United States has a fairly unflexible view of illict drugs, thus the poppy fields are a target of our mission to fight evil abroad. We forget one fundamental thing, that opium is the life blood of much of this treacherous mountainous nation. So when we invade Afghanistan and impose a strict policy to destroy opium fields, it directly assaults the entire economy. Subsequently, this causes local terrorism to grow and general hatred towards US to froth. In Afghanistan alone, the opium trade if tallied up creates about $64 billion dollars in export value which is about 3 times the size of the official formal economy. When we fund the destruction of fields, we are forcing families to lose the money they need to subsist. Instead of siding with the US, farmers and warlords work hand and hand with some terrorist organizations because these groups are able to portray the US as an invader.

We are also creating immense and expensive dependency and it’s not like that of economic reliance, it is direct funding for governments and foreign armies. How long can we continue the trend of invade, stay and rebuild, when we could barely help with Katrina? This precedence shall hopefully be lessened under Obama, who seems to be a realist in his foreign policy. Sadly like Bush he still speaks with the rhetoric praising the absolute power of spreading democracy as an international tool of peace and freedom. Really we need to reject direct nation building efforts, we need to have fewer American companies receiving all the rebuilding contracts so domestic companies can grow and rebuild their own nation. I am not saying creating a model for rebuilding a nation is a bad thing, but the standard operating procedures of giving contracts to companies like Halliburton is detrimental to our final goal. Instead of letting domestic firms innovate and create jobs that hire local Iraqis, these companies will hire Americans first.

My main point is we need to have a more organic and open relationship when rebuilding a nation. We cannot simply impose a standard model that discounts the religious, geographical and cultural differences within a region and the United States army needs to see the longer term implications of displacing and rebuilding an entire economy. Lastly, when we occupy nations like Iraq and then have the Pentagon give the rebuilding contracts to American firms we not only alienate ourselves further, but decrease domestic growth in that nation and in the end create few jobs.

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