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Fool’s Errands

America’s Recent Encounters with Nation Building

By Gary Dempsey and Roger Fontaine
About the Book

In the decade following the end of the Cold War the United States undertook several nation‐​building missions around the globe, most of which have failed. We said we’d bring order to Somalia, but we left chaos. We went to Haiti to restore democracy, but left tyranny. We intervened in Kosovo to create a multiethnic democracy, but we may become embroiled in renewed strife and bloodshed. This extremely timely book cuts through the excuses and uncovers the causes of Washington’s pattern of failure.

About the Authors

Gary T. Dempsey is a former foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, with an emphasis on Southeast European affairs and the limits of peacekeeping and nation building. He is also the editor of Exiting the Balkan Thicket.

What Others Have Said

“This important book addresses the crucial question that advocates of extensive human rights missions wish to ignore: Does it work? The impressively researched case studies highlight the growing gap between declarations of policy ‘success’ and reality on the ground, challenging the assumption that, with enough military firepower and neocolonial administrators, peace and democracy can be externally imposed across the globe.”
—David Chandler, Author, Bosnia: Faking Democracy after Dayton

“America’s liberal imperialists will not like Fool’s Errands at all because this excellent book shows that their four main attempts at nation building during the 1990s — Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Somalia — were all dismal failures.”
—John J. Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago

Fool’s Errands demonstrates the pure folly of trying to impose governments on people who reject them, as well as the hypocrisy involved in calling such impositions building ‘democracy.’ Dempsey provides the best analysis available of the self‐​defeating ‘victories’ of the Clinton administration in Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, and Somalia.”
—Robert M. Hayden, Director, Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh”