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It seems that most of the time it doesn't
on 29 January 2012
I think it is fair to use that statement as my headline. One of the authors quotes David Edelstein who found that out of 26 military occupations since 1815 only seven succeeded. That's one hell of a record. If you read this book you will understand why intervention is such an unsuccessful venture.
The first essay by Rory Stewart focuses on Afghanistan with bits and pieces of Iraq thrown in. Having read the 89 pages I found myself rather disillusioned because one is left with the impression that the intervention in Afghanistan is and was a complete waste of time, money and above all people from beginning to end (if an end is indeed in sight). ISAF ought to be wondering more about `why are we here' because they seem to be treading water virtually since Day 1.
The civilian administrators are no doubt fair-minded and high-minded in the pursuit of their projects, the implementation of which is rather incomplete, or maybe non-existent is a better word. Also, none of them appear to be concerned about the actual needs of the Afghan people and the essay gives the impression that they are not eager to find out what these may be.
I think it is fair to say that Afghanistan would be better off without these `interventionists'.
The second essay by Gerald Knaus deals with the Balkan wars and with the intervention by NATO and the European Union (EU). I found this a bit harder reading than the first essay because I thought it was inconclusive. On one hand, the author shows how successful the intervention in the Balkans turned out, but on the other hand I also felt that future success depends on the `foreign administration' to continue indefinitely. It will be interesting to see whether the administrator can relinquish his office after all these states have become members of the EU.
What I liked about the piece by Gerald Knaus is that it gives a lot of background information on the subject of intervention in general. What I also liked is that both essays begin with a timeline detailing the events. If you know your history most of these dates will not be unfamiliar and if you don't it is a useful summary of the main events.
I agree with other reviewers here that the book is both thought provoking and embarrassing. Maybe it will not be widely read, but it should be compulsory reading for interventionists although I doubt whether these people will learn anything useful from it. And that is a real pity.