MAY/JUNE 2010 ISSUE
The United States' experience with rebuilding economies in the aftermath of conflicts and natural disasters has evidenced serious shortcomings. After seven years of a U.S. presence in Iraq and over nine years in Afghanistan, the economies of those countries continue to falter and underperform. Meanwhile, the damage caused by the earthquake in Haiti early this year revealed deep economic problems, ones that had confronted earlier U.S. efforts to boost Haiti's economy, and they will plague reconstruction efforts there for a long while. Economic growth is critical to establishing social stability, which is the ultimate objective of these counterinsurgency campaigns and disaster-relief efforts. Various obstacles, such as insurgencies and inadequacies in infrastructure, have made economic development difficult in these countries, of course, but these difficulties cannot be blamed exclusively on such obstacles. A central element in the failure to establish robust economies in war-torn or disaster-stricken countries is the prevailing doctrine of international development, according to which strong economies cannot emerge in poor countries.