Book Review: Bush the Builder

International Governance of War-Torn Territories: Rule and Reconstructionby Richard Caplan. Published by Oxford University Press, 2005, £50

The World Today
3 minute READ

Karin von Hippel

Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Defence Studies, King's College London

The supreme irony of nation-building-hater president George Bush establishing and micro-managing a United States military-led government in Iraq – á la General Douglas MacArthur in Japan – with a posse of US military and civilian bureaucrats in key ministries, has not been lost. This from the same man who, when debating with Vice-President Al Gore the day before the 2000 presidential election, remarked, ‘Let me tell you what else I’m worried about: I’m worried about an opponent who uses nation-building and the military in the same sentence.’

At that time, his soon-to-be National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, outlined what would initially become Bush’s security strategy. In Foreign Affairs she wrote, ‘The president must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society.’

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