"That was pretty cool.
Probably the best 20 minutes of speaking I have ever done. Crowd interrupted with sustained applause maybe 3 times. But the standing ovation to end the piece was both very unexpected (haven't received one since a Y2K talk in front of a bunch of SysAdmins down in FL in 1999).
Then I asked the host, Chris Anderson, why I didn't win the Rave award. Joke on me: different Chris Anderson!
Coolest on the way out the door: Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit) met me in hall, said I was funnier than most comedians he's ever worked with, and offered to call my kids on tape with a customized message in the guise of Robert Rabbit!
I will definitely have him call Jerome on the 10th! (his fifth birthday).
My hands were shaking pretty bad during the talk, which hasn't happened to me in a very long time, but it was way cool."
These are the sunglasses that don't scare people
Is a vital interest threatened?Do we have a clear attainable objective?Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?Is the action supported by the American people?Do we have genuine broad international support?
it's something we as a country should seriously consider
1. It is a fallacy is that "nation-building" is always doable, and that it's a standardizable, purely technocratic process that we can essentially write a manual for, and then administer "effectively." That is a typically American attitude... naively optimistic. It's also somewhat patronizing.
The reality of any nation is that it is a unique interaction between many different groups, institutions, cultures, subcultures, classes, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for "rebuilding failed states", because all states, failed or otherwise, are different.
Perhaps there are some broadly applicable principles or lessons (I would imagine mostly along the lines of "here's what NOT to do"). But the idea that this could ever be systematized into a process that would offer any guarantee of a tidy and predictable outcome is laughable.
2. Even well-intentioned attempts at nation-building are usually based upon underestimations of the complexities involved. Trying to rebuild even one sector of a troubled society is something outsiders can never hope to parachute in and do. It has to be done mostly be people who are part of the society, if it's going to be effective and long-lasting. And if outsiders hope even to play a constructive part, they will need to spend hella money.
So "a recognized, experienced, international organization with a positive track record in rebuilding failed states"? Unlikely. And: Who would pay for it? And: Why?
3. The reality is that all nations, including ours, operate largely out of self-interest; and this is not even unified -- disparate groups within any nation struggle to control its foreign policies for their own benefit.
As I said, foreign intervention is pricey. Why would we spend lots of money to intervene in a foreign country? Because we (or some of us) think there's some benefit in it for us. Thus we impose our own motives and desires, and attempt to "rebuild" another nation in a way that serves our own aims (whether those aims are "fighting communism," "fighting terrorism," "spreading democracy," "creating new free trade zones," or whatever). In other words, there is no such thing as "neutrality" in these kind of operations.
The idea of a benevolent, neutral, well-funded, supremely efficent and knowledgeable nation-rebuilding institution is a pipe dream. Nations support international institutions in order to further their own goals. Nations intervene in other nations in order to achieve their own goals.
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