The Foreign Service Journal, November 2006

Aiming for the Capillaries A standing nationbuilding office with dedicated fund- ing and institutional support would likely become a vocal advocate of that approach. Bureaucracies are remarkably inventive in finding ways to justify their own existence. In the case of S/CRS, this would involve agitating for a cost- ly, dangerous course of foreign policy that would generate reconstruction and stabilization missions to work on. Moreover, S/CRS is simply not needed. President Bush has correctly argued that “over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker.” But while this is true, direct American intervention has rarely been a factor. Obviously, the collapse of the Eastern Bloc at the end of the Cold War caused a precipitous advance in free- dom — both political and economic — without U.S. offi- cials on the ground attempting to direct the change. But apart from the end of the Cold War, between 1994 and 2004 the global freedom prognosis continued to improve. According to Freedom House, 46 percent of the world’s countries are politically “free,” compared with 40 percent in 1994. The numbers of “partly free” and “not free” countries have declined. Similarly, economic liberalization continues to advance. According to Economic Freedom of the World: 2006 Annual Report , average economic freedom has advanced even during the very recent past. Between 1995 and 2004 the mean economic freedom of countries around the world advanced from 6.1 to 6.5 on a scale of 0 to 10. When trends are moving in a positive direction, the wisest course is usually to stay out of the way. In an age in which international terrorism could just as plausibly come from Marseille as from Tashkent, America cannot afford to lose its focus and sap its strength by attempting to build nations. Terrorism is a challenging threat that requires intelligence, discrimi- nation and determination. To take on nationbuilding missions that aim for the capillaries of the internation- al system is a dangerous juggling of priorities. It could well create new security challenges where none existed before. F O C U S 56 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 6