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 Dobbins

Nation Building: Conversation with Ambassador James Dobbins; Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center, Rand Corporation; February 28, 2005
by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is James Dobbins, who is Director of the Center for International Security and Defense Studies at the Rand Corporation. During the Clinton years he was a special envoy to many of the hot spots -- Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo -- and then in the Bush administration, to Afghanistan for a brief period. He is the coauthor of a two-volume set that has appeared over the last two years chronicling American intervention and comparing that intervention with the intervention by the UN over the last several decades, the emphasis being on how to explain what works in the process of democratization.

  1. Background
  2. living abroad as a child ... early years in the Foreign Service
  3. U.S. and Europe
  4. de Gaulle ousts NATO military ... consolidating effect of Cold War ... Yugoslav civil war ... 9/11 ... Iraq ... support for European unification ... democratization through EU enlargement
  5. Institutional Obstacles to Nation Building
  6. post - Cold War challenges and opportunities ... the learning curve ... lost opportunities to build on lessons learned ... institutionalizing the knowledge ... getting funding from Congress ... sorting out the responsibilities
  7. Nation Building and Democratization
  8. definition ... early case studies: Japan and Germany ... Bush administration shuns more contemporary models ... nation-building operations have increased in size and frequency ... the value of a supersized intervention
  9. Comparing U.S. and UN Interventions
  10. strong areas of overlap ... who's in charge ... differing levels of difficulty and success rates ... UN's legitimacy ... measuring the variables: input, output, outcome ... burden-sharing in Kosovo operation
  11. Iraq
  12. special challenges from the outset ... failure to anticipate predictable outcomes ... failure to learn from past experiences ... blinded by dream of easy victory ... blinded by disdain for Clinton-era interventions ... hiding potential costs from Congres ...
  13. Learning Multilateralism
  14. unilateralist rhetoric ... sobering costs of Iraq ... implicitly altering course
  15. Conclusions
  16. skills of a diplomat ... multilateralism doesn't come naturally to a superpower ... the American patronage system ... avoiding oversimplification
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