There is no doubt that helping to create a functioning state where there is none is difficult, especially when resources commensurate to the task aren’t committed, as was the case in Somalia. But Somalia also shows why nation-building is unavoidable.
Since the U.S. left Somalia, tail between our legs, it has become a haven for terrorists and pirates. Now an Islamist movement modeled on the Taliban, known as the Shabab, threatens to take over the country. If this were to happen, it would replicate the disaster that struck Afghanistan in the 1990s — another example of what happens when the U.S. refuses to help build a viable state in a country desperately in need of one…
The problem isn’t that we are engaged in nation-building. The problem is that we do it so poorly. The U.S military hasn’t fully embraced it as a part of its mission, and neither has the State Department. The job often falls to the U.S. Agency for International Development, but it is so under-resourced that it has become little more than a contract-oversight office.
As I’ve been arguing since the start of the Iraq war, we desperately need a new agency — call it the Department of Peace — to expand our capacity for nation-building.