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Armed Humanitarians: The Rise of the Nation Builders Hardcover – February 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160819017X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608190171
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,257,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hodge (coauthor of A Nuclear Family Vacation), a journalist specializing in defense and national security issues, takes a critical look at the post-9/11 shift in U.S. foreign policy toward nation building in a timely and balanced account. Drawing upon firsthand reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan and extensive interviews with key figures behind the shift, the author traces how the initial failure to secure Afghanistan and Iraq led to the "military's embrace of counterinsurgency"--a shift to "armed social work" that blended force and humanitarianism and became the new face of American foreign policy. Hodge locates the origins of the new paradigm in the work of defense intellectuals like Thomas Barnett (The Pentagon's New Map) and the support of a cadre of military officers, led by Gen. David Petraeus, who embedded the doctrine in the military's counterinsurgency manual and oversaw its adoption during the 2007 surge. While acknowledging some tentative successes, the author argues that nation building detracts from the military's primary mission and is best left to development and diplomatic agencies. Hodge calls for a national conversation on the issue of nation building, and his carefully reported and sprightly written critique is a good place to begin. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Journalist Hodge, who has spent more than a decade writing about the defense industry, addresses the twenty-first-century foreign policy shift that calls for the U.S. military to engage in “armed humanitarianism.” A necessary progression from the much-maligned “nation building” of the 1990s, this change stems from the Pentagon’s realization that soft power is required to address the economic struggles of disenfranchised peoples that are at the root of most international conflicts. Drawing on an enormous amount of location research in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Republic of Georgia, and elsewhere, Hodge exhibits a startling grasp of the primary challenges to our national security as he addresses corruption on the ground overseas, our bloated defense budget, and ongoing difficulties with the State Department’s overdependence on military contractors. Readers of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea (2009) will appreciate repeated references to that title and how its philosophy of active civilian engagement is admired and emulated by military in the field. Equal parts inspiring and frustrating, this is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand U.S. foreign policy. --Colleen Mondor

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David W. Southworth VINE VOICE on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This short book by journalist Nathan Hodge covers the acceleration of the development over the last ten years of war of capabilities within the US military to do nation building. The US military felt that it had to undertake this effort because, in the view of the author, the civilian parts of the US government responsible for these issues of development, namely the State Department and the US Agency for International Development, had failed in its mission. In light of this perceived failure the military stepped in and created military and police training teams, the Human Terrain System, and the Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. These efforts still weren't great enough because of the scale of the task, so the US government contracted out security and intelligence functions to private companies, many of whom have had questionable returns on investment.

Overall this is an excellent review of a complicated and important issue. Hodge, a skilled investigator and writer, can occasionally lapse into writing that takes a too familiar tone. But overall this is an excellent story for those interested in the story of how the US government reacted to the continuing wars and Iraq and Afghanistan since the early 2000s.
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