Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why nation-building fails?

There were multiple attempts by the USA and its European allies to change dictatorships into democracies. After trillions of dollars and nearly a million lives spent, these countries are worse than before and Western people look puzzled.

I can easily explain why it was a hopeless move from the start by a bizarre example: Europe going nation building to the USA. So, we're outraged by the very high gun violence rate of the USA and decided to save them. How could we stop gun violence? By collecting the guns silly! In European countries where only police, military and secret agency officers can hold a gun, gun violence is practically unknown and other violence is low too. So all we have to do is going door to door and collect the guns of the gun-nuts.

Anyone who lives in the USA can predict how this campaign would end, even with sufficient military force. Exactly as the US campaign in the Middle East: lots of dead and worse situation than before. Why? Because gun ownership is deeply integrated to the American culture. The gun owners see it as an important part of their freedom. It doesn't matter if it's objectively wrong (in a sense that if research proves that gun ownership correlates with violent deaths), they will fight for it. Sure, with enough force they can be defeated, but every death makes their friends and relatives hate the invaders more. Since the people are connected many ways, even if the European army is perfectly free of collateral damage (good luck with that) and only kills gun nuts who open fire first, soon everyone would have a friend or family member killed by it. The point is that even if he personally agree with the end goal, he is upset about the cost: "Uncle Jack was a loud, racist gun nut, and I wish he wasn't, but he didn't deserve to be shot in his own home".

Now replace "gun nut" with "Vahabite", "Kurdish nationalist", "Shia fundamentalist" or "Pastu tribe-member" and you just got Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

I would suggest to American politicians the "gun nut" rule. If they want to change something in the World using some method, they should ask the question "would the same method work on gun nuts". If not, it won't work on any other group who strongly identifies with something "we" see dumb. The only things that work are education and protecting the non-X-nut people from the X-nuts. Just like as you can't bring a gun to a privately owned business if the owner doesn't allow it, you can plant shopping malls in the friendly Middle Eastern countries where burkas are not allowed and guards protect women from abuse.

Please don't start an argument over USA gun laws! The point is exactly that a non-American can't understand what guns means to an American, so he shouldn't interfere. "Gun nut" is not my opinion, it's the opinion of the theoretical "Save America from Violence" military operation, a term gun-opposers use in the same sense as "Islamic radical" used by the democracy advocates.


Rorik said...

Imagine if the EU had a policy of letting in millions of American "gun nuts" and gave them jobs/welfare benefits. After a generation, there would be so many "gun nuts" and their children (because the birth rate of the gun nuts is significantly higher than the native population) that they would start making up a significant percentage of the population of many EU nations and eventually they would have enough voting power to start changing the laws to make it legal for them to own and carry guns. Whole towns would start looking and feeling like the small Southern towns that these newcomers left years ago. Local customs and cultures would start to erode and be replaced by the ways of the gun nuts, making the native European cultures more and more scarce. Wouldn't that be an interesting scenario?

Eaten by a Grue said...

There is a lot of truth in what you are saying, though at this point no serious person in the West is puzzled. We know what a herculean task it would be to create a working, peaceful democracy in that part of the world, due to the centuries old bad blood those people have against their neighbors who practice Islam slightly differently.

But bear in mind that the west came off successes in these types endeavors. Post war Germany and Japan turned out great. South Korea turned out great. Former Eastern Bloc nations, well you tell us, but they seem to not be doing too bad, all things considered, and with minimal foreign aid. I am sure there are other examples. Middle East, admittedly not great at all.

In the defense of the West, it's pretty much the fault of the Iraqis that they could not set up a decent government after someone else came in and toppled the dictator they had no chance of toppling. They could have put their sectarian differences aside, but chose not to.

maxim said...

I am not a fan of "any attempt to intervene is doomed to fail" approach.

The problem with USA's intervention is that they do a great job at destroying the regimes, but they do no job whatsoever at putting the life back together after the destruction.

There is no way to tell whether this lack of ability to put stuff back together is due to the fact that it is impossible to begin with, or some manner of incompetence on part of USA, or some other factors. There is this creeping suspicion that this outcome is actually something the USA wants (f/ex to stop and prevent expansion of chinese interests and also to put pressure on Europe).
So the explanation might actually be that they are competently doing their job of maintaining their own political and economic hegemony.

In any event, i do agree with you that actually building nations requires much more effort than what USA has been shown to be able to commit to. Why would they want to commit to it in the face of what is described as "Crisis of National State" is another question entirely.

Smokeman said...

Heh. You are correct. To a degree. However, this is one of those posts where I can't really figure out what your point is.

Western forces weren't trying to change dictatorships to democracies, they were trying to change non-compliant regimes to compliant regimes. Do you think the west cares if Saudi Arabia is a woman hating, hijab wearing, terrorist funding state? Nope! They care that they are compliant to their policies.

Nation building in this context fails because it's Nation subjugation, not Nation building.

The people at the ground level see this, and if they have the means to fight back (Specifically... do they have access to weapons.) they will do so through asymmetric warfare. Just like the US would do if Europe (laughably) tried to take away their guns.

If they DON'T have that access, they roll over and take it, like Europe is doing in the face of a "refugee invasion."

It DOESN'T MATTER if the people on the ground resisting are right or wrong. It DOESN'T MATTER if they have the moral high ground or are defending their cannibalistic ways. What matters is they have the right to self determination... and they have exactly one way to defend themselves. With weapons.

My problem is here:

"It doesn't matter if it's objectively wrong (in a sense that if research proves that gun ownership correlates with violent deaths)"

Well of COURSE gun ownership correlates with violent death. That's what guns do. But that doesn't mean that a lot of those deaths wouldn't have occurred otherwise, just slower. Just because you used the best tool for the job doesn't mean you wouldn't have done it with a lesser tool.

Gevlon said...

@Rorik: giving out money to people who do what we want. Interesting idea and definitely better than "go and kill".

@Eaten by Grue: Germany was a democracy before Hitler. It needed no "building", just removing Hitler. In Japan the Emperor wasn't removed, so the old traditions and customs were used to upkeep the new.

@Maxim: if they had malicious goals, they would just install friendly dictatorships. They really-really tried to build "good" democracies.

@Smokeman: same as above. It would have been trivial to replace Saddam with one of his lieutenants who bow to the Americans and upkeep the old system with a new ruler. Hell, it would have been trivial to let Saddam take Kuwait in return of supporting US Middle East policies.

gunnuts said...

Gevlon, Germany was not a democracy in any real sense. They went from the Kaiser into a weak pathetic state that got bullied, and quickly turned fascist to defend itself. Russia is a similar example. Russia has never really been democratic. Short lived experiments with democracy that backslide are not good enough.

You need to learn history if you think Japan didn't change. America completely transformed Japan. Hirohito was completely powerless after the war. Douglas MacArthur pretty much ran Japan for years. Japan and Germany turned out great, and to a lesser extent South Korea, because their populations were not backward and self-destructive. Vietnam was too poor and culturally corrupt to grow up like Japan and Germany did.

Iraq is not "worse than before". It is better for most, except for the former privileged elite who exploited and dominated the rest. Iraq has major problems because a lot of its population is disposed to sectarian violence. Even in America, our poor areas are shitty, full of gangs, and in some cases elect ridiculous representatives. Now imagine a whole country like that. No wonder they can't develop. It comes down to education and cultural values.

Nation building is not supposed to be about forcing your ideals down another country's throat. When this is done, it is a difficult and messy process. If you knew your history, you could point to the post-Civil War American South, which went through the period known as the "Reconstruction". The South was very resentful and frustrated northern imposition of values for a CENTURY.

Your ideas about American "gun nuts" is such a cartoonish, ridiculous Eurocentric caricature of Americans that I can't take it seriously. If you don't want to debate gun control, don't push a very biased, false worldview. Where you are from, the "gun control" side lives in a bubble and thinks it is 100% right. The population having guns would have prevented the Holocaust. Don't throw punches and then say you don't want to fight.

maxim said...

This particular tinfoil goes like this.

The whole world is in a crisis, including America. Which will inevitably lead to it losing its hegemony to China, India etc - the countries whose economies are still developing. However, if USA succeeds in making everyone's life shit, then they can maintain hegemony through looking better by comparison.

The thing about dictatorships is that they don't REALLY make life shit. Sure, some whiny crybabies are getting oppressed, but the people in general enjoy stability, as dictatorships ultimately put nations on a course for development (because dictators will inevitably compete with each other and will inevitably git gud).

What REALLY makes life shit is religious fundamentalism, because it will actively seek out and destroy everything that makes life good because haram. Therefore USA can use ISIS (and Nusra and the like) to make life shit for everyone.

I am still not sure how far exactly i buy into this tinfoil. However, compared to other theories, it does have the advantage of internal consistency.

Unknown said...

Again, as with your last article, I can agree, but at the same time, I have to agree to @Smokeman as well. The plan was never to establish democracy, that was just GWBjr's PR lies to the UN. The US have for a long time supported Egypt, a dictatorship, compliant to the western power block, as well as feudal Saudi-Arabia and basically every dictator in South and middle America. Democracy is rather an obstacle for US imperialistic foreign policies. Remember Iran and Mossadeqh, he was overthrown because he wanted to retake control over persian petrol resources.

The main problem of all these half hearted attempts is that they always went for a quick and dirty solution. Another reason is that all these countries have no democratic culture or heritage at all! Democracies are not born overnight. It is a painful, slow and very bloody way until a democratic constituion is created, look at 1776 or 1789...

Afghanistan: bring in a corrupt exile, Karsai and let him exploit the country for a few years...

Iraq: Bring in the shiate exile and let him wreac havoc onto ths sunnites, peace will surely come from this...

Libya: Get rid of Qaddafi and let the two major clans fight it out, it mus end in peace some day...

The list could go on and on. A democracy needs a functioning and reliable administration. Do the above mentioned countries have that? Nope!
Democracies need political parties that represent not only their own base, but will also respect the needs of minorities. Do shiate parties respect sunnite parties and vice versa? No!

Unfortunately, no benevolent dictator is in sight for these failed states...

Just look at your own country. It was a russian satellite state for more than two generations, in the nineties this changed, but still old communists hold a lot of power and the people still prefer a strong ruler who cuts their freedom to pieces rather than a heterogene and divers society...

Changes are slow....

maxim said...

America is so democratic it murdered both Kennedies and nobody stood up for people they represented.
Now you are making the great democratic choice between Trump and Hillary. Enjoy :D

Anonymous said...

If I look from the perspectiv from my country, Swiss tben America is not a "real" democrati. We have over 5 big polical partis an over 15 small. We chose in the end Ideas and persons. Not parties. Hope you understand my english.

Terry said...

This will cover gun in the US a bit but bear with it as it's important to the point.

The biggest argument for not removing guns from the US isn't people feel they have the right to, it's that if you disarm the population, law abiding citizens will hand in their guns and now be unarmed, while criminal - the people most likely to commit violent crime - won't. It's easy to stand in a country that doesn't have a history of gun ownership telling the US how not having guns would be better, but it's a much more difficult task to actually get there from where they are.

This then doesn't match up with your reason for why their campaigns in the middle east didn't work. Realistically they didn't work because their goal wasn't to stabilize the countries, it was to benefit themselves. Anyone with an ounce of sense doesn't need to consult a gun nut to know that if you overthrow a dictator and don't replace him with any form of capable government, the country is going to go to shit.

What you've got here are two unrelated topics.

Anonymous said...

This is a small point, but you should know that the phrase 'Uncle Tom' has a rather specific implication. I understand that you were not trying to reference slavery or African-American issues in your post. and in fact I literally have an uncle whose name is Tom. Just be aware that particular name can distract from your point.

Anonymous said...

We know what a herculean task it would be to create a working, peaceful democracy in that part of the world, due to the centuries old bad blood those people have against their neighbors who practice Islam slightly differently.

do we know? I doubt it. as things progress soon secularity will be banned. it triggers too many people because of "obvious" obese/religious/gender/sexuality reasons.
like every "herculean task" you break it down and start with small steps. The west has forgotten what the very first step is. _Secularity_! state needs to be separate from religion. with all the "god bless" bullshit from the US this can go out of sight, but not only US the EU doesn't focus on this doctrine too, sure EU is a bit less "god bless" as the US but still the fundamental believe in separating state and religion is very important but no one seems to care. The whole west lacks the clarity to say "we do secularity here. you do too if you want to stay/travel or you can go somewhere else."
With this you can believe what ever you want as long as you are conforming to the state law. the first step towards a somewhat peaceful and tolerant society

I don't go into islam. people get triggered or this post will be deleted. It's fair enough to point out the fact that islam and secularity are polar opposites.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Afghanistan to Japan is just another example of how political correctness completely destroys ability to engage with reality and leads to policy disasters.

Take a look at Germany or Japan in 1940s with regard their economy/education/civics/industry/culture. Now, look at Afghanistan.

Now ask the question "why middle east is not accepting democracy so easily as Germany/Japan".

Anonymous said...

All of these clearly Americans trying to defend their terrible gun laws.

Please look at Australia, since one party commited political suicide by outlawing guns, the number of mass murders has decreased to single digits PER DECADE.

How many Americans die in a decade from mass murders?

the inquisitive neurologist said...

I am a European immigrant in the US, and I did learn and change a lot as I became enculturated here. Back in 1994 I thought, "Of course gun ownership is stupid and evil". Now I know better. You may want to find out more details about the correlations between gun ownership and violence, or rather, the rather low correlation between them. Whether you look at the country level or at individuals, gun ownership has a very insignificant net impact on violence. Just look at the Swiss, with very high gun ownership rate and low crime, and the Yanomamo Indians, with almost no guns but skyhigh violence. Check your references, there is a lot of propaganda out there.