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Sustaining Peace in War-Torn Societies: Lessons from the Hatian Experience

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The US-led intervention in Haiti has often been held up as an example of how not to conduct foreign policy. Ill-defined and open-ended interventions in affairs of other countries for reasons tangential to national security are seen as primarily squandering US military resources and readiness on dubious results and outcomes that only generate more ill-will among those targeted for intervention. Furthermore, to the extent that problems in these countries may have been decades or centuries in the making, they are seen as only being fixed through the "n"-word nation-building whereby expensive ventures are undertaken to rebuild entire polities or economies. For many contemporary experts, such nation-building is at best misplaced hubris, at worst sheer folly.

This paper uses the example of Haiti to propose that efforts to build peace in war-torn societies need not be endlessly expensive or open-ended, and if conducted with precision and moderation, can lead to the achievement of key long-term US foreign goals without undermining short-term priorities. This argument is presented from the prism of Haiti's historical and current experience.

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