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Nation-Building and the U.S. Military

Reexamining America’s Role

America’s Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq is the title of a 240-page strategic and historical study released in July 2003, four months after we invaded Iraq, by the RAND Corporation, an influential national-security institute that originally conducted special research for the U.S. Air Force.  The early intellectual leadership of the RAND Corporation is still influential among neoconservatives.  For example, the late Albert Wohlstetter and his friend Andrew Marshall (the long-serving and founding head of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment—a very influential in-house think tank of the Department of Defense) have been mentors and strategic collaborators of Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among others.

An implicit premise of the RAND study is that the U.S. military’s newly proposed “core mission” of foreign “nation-building” can and should be conducted simultaneously with its dissipating “Global War on Terror.”  This combination, even at first glance, appears irrational.

Nonetheless, this study explicitly supports a new “core mission” of concurrent “nation-building” for our military, even though the GWOT (as it is affectionately known) itself increasingly eludes definition.  Our military forces (including our reserves) are now exhaustingly overextended in their oft-reactive, yet pervasively inconclusive,...

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