Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why American interventions fail

Since I am in the US I am more aware of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the associated angst and politics. I fear that both wars will fail in their goal to provide political stability to countries with tumultuous histories and no democratic tradition.
Unfortunately, the reasons are simple: culture, religion and history.
I do not believe that you can change these down the barrel of a gun, even if you are prepared to stay for a whole generation. Although some lip service is paid to these three forces I don't think their true power is ever acknowledged.
In history has there ever been a case in the twentieth century where a powerful Western nation has intervened with incredible military force in a developing nation and provided a foundation for long term stability?


  1. The closest we have to an example is Japan. But even WWII Japan was an example of a culture that had already bought into a Western construct of religion and culture (they built their emperor worship out of a confused understanding of European church/state relations). So our imposition of democratic and secular ideals into an Eastern culture, a culture very tribal in its understanding, will only work if we also exercise overwhelming force against them in such a way that literally executes their psychic consciousness. Some are willing to "nuke em all back to the stone age" but thankfully most aren't willing to take that route. My hope is that we can learn to live in peaceful coexistence even though we have warring ideological frameworks. Dangerous times indeed we live in.

  2. Thanks for that insight. I had not thought of the case of Japan. I agree that the intervention only "succeeded" because of the "overwhelming force against them .....that literally executed their psychic consciousness." The use of nuclear weapons was (hopefully) a historical anomaly that will not be repeated.