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Fool's Errands: America's Recent Encounters with Nation Building [Hardcover]

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Item description for Fool's Errands: America's Recent Encounters with Nation Building by Gary Dempsey...

This book cuts through the excuses and uncovers the causes of Washington's pattern of failure.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   220
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.32" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.81"
Weight:   1.23 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jun 25, 2001
Publisher   Cato Institute
ISBN  1930865066  
ISBN13  9781930865068  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Democracy
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Government > Federal Government
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > International > Relations
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > U.S.

Reviews - What do customers think about Fool's Errands: America's Recent Encounters with Nation Building?

The folly of Clinton-era nation building, case-by-case   Dec 6, 2004
~Fool's Errands: America's Recent Encounters With Nation Building~ is a terse analysis and overview of Clinton foreign policy maladministration. It succinctly captures his sad legacy of nation building efforts in the 1990s. Driven by naïve Wilsonian idealism, perhaps rosy views of human nature, and a quixotic fixation with seeing "democratic enlargement," the Clinton State Department presided over one foreign policy boondoggle after the other. Nation building efforts in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Kosovo were all entered with the best of intentions. Nonetheless, the end results were spurious victories with limited successes and arguably outright failures in some cases where intervention caused more harm than good. Some contests deemed triumphs are perhaps Pyrrhic victories at best. In such cases, US/UN/NATO babysitting (i.e. peacekeeping) has been deemed semi-permanent, political tripwires are everywhere, and an uneasy peace ensues.

(1) SOMALIA was an emerging crisis duly noted by Bush Senior after a coup d'état toppled the government in Mogadishu. Bush Senior sponsored increased humanitarian aid following instability and a famine, but withheld a more direct presence. After the coup, the vacuum of power was filled by rival warlords. Thereafter, Clinton soon came on the scene and pushed for more direct intervention. Dempsey and Fontaine paint a startling sketch of war torn nation and give cogent reasoning why well-meaning foreign policy goals led to disaster. Powerful warlords in the cities plundered the spoils of humanitarian aid for their own gain to buy weapons and buy off cadres of foot soldiers to do their bidding. The Somali animosity towards Westerners intensified amidst the chaos; humanitarian workers became victims of warlord violence and street crime. The Western world took note of the stark aforesaid events. The U.S. intervened under U.N. auspices. They were in the precarious position of picking allies from the warlord factions and protecting unarmed U.N. personnel. The thorn in their side was Mohammed Farah Aideed, a dominant urban warlord who pilfered foreign humanitarian aid rather than distribute it equitably. He used the spoils to buy and arm his own armies and finance his criminal syndicate. Aideed was bold and flagrantly attacked UN peacekeepers and killed foreigners. The U.S. responded to these hit-and-run attacks by targeted strikes that summer. In October 1993, 18 U.S. Army Rangers were tragically killed in fighting while hundreds of Somali causalities fell. That conflict drew ominous parallels to Beirut and the quagmire touched a nerve in Washington. Thereafter, many in Congress demanded withdrawal. Clinton lashed out at isolationist "poison" and lack of U.S. commitment in the aftermath of sharp criticism. Further scandal erupted as millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars were lost to misappropriations, corrupt contract practices and embezzlement at the behest of UNOSOM. The U.S. eventually would relent and for the most part curtailed its presence. Aideed has died in fighting in 1996. Though Somalia is not a happy ever after story, the situation has marginally improved. Having endured Marxist despotism and anarchy, markets have since started to develop in the 1990s. Neighboring Djibouti helped broker a peace conference of Somali factions while an election brought President Hassan to power. Somalia is slowly emerging from the backwater Third World and all without a significant U.S. presence in the nation.

(2) HAITI is another horror story of good intentions gone awry. Haiti has a sad history of being mired in poverty, instability, corruption and economic stagnation with a paltry $250 per capita income. Clinton insisted on making democracy a grandiose cause in trying to strong arm a military junta out of power, and seeking the return of a democratically elected Marxist named Jean Aristide. The consequences of a naïve insistence on making the world safe for lofty democratic platitudes are well documented. The Clinton Administration made a fundamental mistake of economic sanctions to expedite a regime change. Clinton only succeeded in cutting the Haitian GDP by fully one-third after the nominal foreign businesses that were there packed their bags. In the end, U.S.-U.N. sponsored sanctions only hurt the Haitian people. The effects of sanctions will likely have repercussions for decades. Clinton sent in Marines to restore Aristide to his palace in Port-au-Prince which was simple enough. Afterwards came massive aid packages and troops that were deemed necessary to train Aristide's security forces and maintain order. The Haitian markets and economic development remained stagnate. Aristide only proved himself to be a corrupt kleptocrat who plundered the lion share of humanitarian aid to line his pockets while buying off protection for himself and his cronies. Haiti has since been mired in more crime and poverty as the corrupt Aristide rigged subsequent elections. Aristide was eventually toppled at dawn of this century, and many observers welcomed it. The present Bush Administration refused to restore him to power much to chagrin of the Fidel-coddling Rep. Charles Rangel of New York. Clinton's policies in Haiti spelled a disaster, and rested on naïve insistence on bringing a corrupt, avowed Marxist back to power in the name of democracy. It was also part of a politically correct agenda since Haiti in the early 1990's was being lead by a French Haitian in an essentially black republic. This was a touchstone of intervention for a Democratic administration obliged to defend political correctness over our vital security interests.

(3) BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, that is a multi-ethnic Bosnian democracy, can be surmised as wishful thinking. The malfeasance in the nation-building campaign by the U.S. and NATO is Bosnia is captured by the chapter's subtitle, the Potemkin State. Potemkin, of course, alludes to the illusory idyllic village settings that were fabricated by Gen. Potemkin in eighteenth century Russia to awe Catherine the Great's courtesans from a distance as they toured her ostensibly idyllic kingdom. The artificiality of the Potemkin Villages came to embody the superficial and halfhearted attempts to reform and liberalize Catherine's kingdom. Happy peasants and happy villages were all a façade. Likewise, Bosnia remains an illusory farce, a state that exists merely on paper. It is deeply divided into mono-ethnic regions with separate standing armies and security forces. Germany helped foment the problem by recognizing the Bosnian State amidst a Civil War. By recognizing a independent Bosnia, Germany and NATO gave a carte blanche to the Bosniacs to wage war against the Serbs. The brokered peace at the Dayton Accord and negotiations came far too late. Germany and NATO exacerbated the crisis and the death toll by their intervention. Thereafter the Albright State Department decided that political correctness and the need for "multiethnic democracy" trumped the rights of Croats and Serbs. Croats abdicated their Croat settlements in Bosnia as are the Serbs in the New Bosnia. Technically, there really isn't such thing as an ethnic Bosnian. The so called Bosniacs are merely Muslims who live in Bosnia. The conflict in Bosnia was a proving ground for radical Islamists who trained and fought there, and networked with Mujahideen and Al Qaeda. War crimes committed by those other than Serbs are downplayed if not ignored, though all sides have unclean hands. I'm not a Serb apologist nor do I dismiss their atrocities in pointing out that Croats and Bosniacs committed their share as well. The difference is the outside world turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the later two nationalities. Serbs didn't initiate hostilities and something has to be said about the fact that the first refugees in 1992 were 40,000 Serbs. Not surprisingly, the prospects for ethnic reintegration are bleak and a multiethnic, cooperative, democratic Bosnia is an illusory farce and a modern Potemkin State. Bosnia is a veritable powder keg ready to go off.

(4) KOSOVO is a quagmire, and perhaps the biggest failure of any nation-building scheme the Clinton Administration contrived. Historically, Serbia has the strongest ties to Kosovo with more than a millennium of ties to the region. The battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Turks was fought there. Moreover, it is home to innumerable sacred Serbian Orthodox shrines, many of which have been desecrated by Muslim militants. Nonetheless, the policies of the internationalist overseers are inherently philo-Albananian. While the occupiers and the Western media sensationalized accounts of Muslim victims of Serb aggression, many Serbs, Macedonians and Gypsies in the region have suffered immensely and many refugees of the later three nationalities have fled Kosovo. For all the hue and cry about ethnic cleansing, the unintended consequences of NATO policy was the massive ethnic cleansing of non-Albanians. War and terror atrocities only seem to get reported though when Serbs are the culprits. The West-NATO-US aligned itself with the Albanian KLA, which was nothing more than a corrupt, narco-terrorist group involved in illegal drug and arms trafficking as well as white slavery. The CIA, in fact, has long classified the KLA as a terrorist group. The KLA has little interest in the aims of the internationalist cadre behind KFOR, preferring instead a Greater Albania including Kosovo purified of non-Albananians. Kosovo will likely remain in the economic doldrums since its political status remains in limbo. The only foreign investment seems to be in security forces, building and maintenance of support structures for occupying peacekeepers. The economic prospects of Kosovo are in limbo, and international controls greatly hinder prospects of burgeoning markets or foreign investment. Investors simply lack confidence in an unstable region that is locked in political limbo for perpetuity.

President Bush said prior to his election in 2000, "I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building." I tend to agree, but I have not changed mind on the subject. This book is vitally requisite for addressing the contemporary issues as the issue United States continues to be naively obsessed with reckless intervention in the name of "democratic enlargement," furtherance of Wilsonian idealistic ideology and international human rights agendas. If we want lessons from history, we have to look no further than the last decade of the last century. Nation building takes more than imperious regime changing by superpowers and copious amounts of foreign aid. Free governments cannot be simply imposed. Nations must be built from within from slow cultural and political transitions. The Clinton foreign policy gurus act as though democracy is some tangible commodity for export abroad, and ignore how fragile the institutions of free government really are. They misread cultural, historical and strategic considerations before inaugurating their campaign of reckless interventionism and nation building. Bombing a region or country into the ground and whimsically rebuilding it into a free democracy seldom goes as planned. Gunpoint democracy has proven itself to be an illusory farce; the four major attempts at nation building in the 1990's were dismal failures. Dempsey and Fontaine substantiate this assertion in their book with sound reasoning and a trenchant analysis.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana
Fools Errand- Exceptional!  Mar 19, 2002
Fools Errand is an extraordinary account of failed attempts at "nation building" during the Clinton Administration. Gary Dempsey's expertise is evident as he guides the reader through a maze of disturbingly flawed policy, astonishing bureaucracy, arrogance and stupidity that doomed nation building attempts to failure. Dempsey's analysis is brilliant, and he relates complex events with remarkable clarity.
Fools Errand- Exceptional!  Mar 19, 2002
Fools Errand is an extraordinary account of failed attempts at "nation building" during the Clinton Administration. Gary Dempsey's expertise is evident as guides the reader through a maze of disturbingly flawed policy, astonishing bureaucracy, arrogance and stupidity that doomed nation building attempts to failure. Dempsey's analysis is brilliant, and he relates complex events with remarkable clarity.
A Great Book  Dec 5, 2001
Dempsey's Fool's Errands is brilliant. He methodically recounts the pitfalls of an indiscriminate nation building policy. Anyone who is serious about shaping or understanding America's foreign policy should read this.
A Great Book  Dec 5, 2001
Dempsey's Fool's Errands is brilliant. He methodically recounts the pitfalls of an indiscriminate nation building policy. Anyone who is serious about shaping or understanding America's foreign policy should read this.

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