Posted by: cousindampier | 12 October 2009

COIN and nation-building: The (lack of) debate

It would do this country well to have an open debate about nation-building: what it is, why it is important, where it will take place, how long it will take, who will be in charge of the mission, and how the different steps will work.

This is getting lost in the entire “more troops to Afghanistan” news cycle. Nine years ago, Bush was elected on a foreign policy platform of “our military doesn’t do nation-building.” When Gates took over for Rumsfeld, did the United States just admit the idea was wrong and we will have to be involved in it?

Nation-building is a long term commitment. The use of COIN strategies sets the basis for nation-building: secure the population to buy time for the government to build itself into a stronger institution. That doesn’t mean US troops will be in a state long enough for it to build itself, but it does mean the US military is helping build the foundation.

So where is the debate on that? Shouldn’t we be discussing a nation-building strategy instead of a COIN strategy?

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