Nation-Building: Beyond Afghanistan and Iraq by Francis Fukuyama (Editor)

Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama drawing on his invaluable expertise brings together a collation of views, theories and postulates that dwell on the merits and drawbacks of an enhanced role played by a State in institutionalising political, social and cultural reforms. Citing the example of nation building activities resorted to by the Bush Administration in both Afghanistan and Iraq following the calamity of 9/11, Fukuyama analyses both the perils of an uncontrolled state intervention as well as the deficiencies that represent the outcome of an inadequate state administration. In the latter case, the task of nation building and other allied reformative measures are left at the hands of the markets which ally with fringe and peripheral players such as Non-Government Organisations, voluntary task forces and quasi-governmental institutions in the task of nation building.

Francis Fukuyama also educates the reader on the degree of legitimacy that ought to be bestowed on a state as it embarks on its drive towards nation building. Too much of control would lead to adverse outcomes as a state running amok poses clear threats not only to its own citizens but also to its neighbours. At the same time a stifled and impotent state would be forced to seek external assistance (assistance which might be riddled with conditions as is the case with many of the beneficiaries of Western Aid in Sub-Saharan Africa), thereby relinquishing its hold on any prospect of participating in policy making processes.

A key feature of this book lies in the various real life examples demonstrating both instances of huge successes and unmitigated disasters in the exercise of nation building. A mistaken belief on the part of policy makers that their interests are in perfect alignment with those of the targeted beneficiaries of the intended policies; nation building following an incursion into a foreign territory, thereby precipitating internal strife and civil wars (a la Iraq); delayed action on the part of responsible states to check a wanton spree of crimes against humanity (e.g. Serbia. Kosovo, South Sudan etc.) are some key factors which can dispatch the process of nation building into a tail-spin.

Fukuyama also sets out the scale of state involvement along with the attendant degrees of specificity for the benefit of the reader’s comprehension. Although some passages and a portion of a couple of chapters tax the intellectual patience of the reader, this book nonetheless makes for some very useful reading, especially for people involved in some or the other kind of public administration. It is a cautionary offering warning the wary to steer clear of maladroit decision making and intemperate institutionalism.

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