View Full Version : Tell me about "Reconstruction" for those who lose a war

Inigo Montoya
03-31-2004, 01:35 PM
It was either this or something about subscribing to the SDMB :D

Following a war, under what conditions is the victor to feel compelled to fund & orchestrate reconstruction of the country that was just beaten? When did this start?

Post WWII Germany was heavily damaged upon the end of the war, and Japan was pretty much a basket case as well, I believe. With aid from The Allies the countries were rebuilt and now all is more or less OK in those regions. Both Gulf Wars wrought some damage to Iraq's infrastructure, but by no means were entire cities levelled, nor huge chunks of the population annihilated.

Laying cynicism aside, why should The Coalition feel a need to rebuild Iraq when the bulk of the damage in that country appears not to have been our doing. I'm conveniently omitting the fact that much of the damage can be attributed to Saddam who is our doing.

One possibility that comes to mind is that The Rest Of The World feels it is wrong to leave Iraq to die in the desert, and so we must help her recover from...blah blah..blah. Why not just send a huge wad of cash to pay for our damages and finance some research & training and let the Iraqis pull themselves up in a manner that will instill some kind of national pride...or let them squander it and reap the hell that such irresponsibility would deserve? I'm assuming Iraq still has plenty of engineers, builders, materiel and gearheads around looking for something to do?

03-31-2004, 01:52 PM

03-31-2004, 01:53 PM
Following a war, under what conditions is the victor to feel compelled to fund & orchestrate reconstruction of the country that was just beaten? I think it occurs when the victor is worried that the losing country will become an enemy again in the future, and so tries to help in reconstruction so they become a friend.

For example, after WWI, Germany was given no reconstruction help, but was left badly damaged, in awful financial condition, etc. So 20 years later, they came back and started an even worse war, WWII. After that loss, there was the Marshall Plan to reconstruct Germany (and the rest of Europe), and they became close allies of the USA for decades afterwards.

Also, participating in Reconstruction gives you a big voice in deciding just how the losing country is reconstructed. For example, US General MacArthur wrote the new Constitution for Japan after WWII.

Further, there are real economic benefits to your own country from participating in reconstruction. All those people working in defense plants are suddenly laid off after the war ends, leading to the typical post-war economic downturn (and frequently, the voting-out of the political leaders). But if you're reconstructing the beaten country, you can just switch those workers to other jobs building whatever's needed for reconstruction. So it keeps your economy humming. And generally, you can force the beaten company to pay for it, at least in part.

P.S. I'm not sure there is a factual answer to this question, so maybe it belongs in IMHO rather than GQ forum.

03-31-2004, 02:28 PM
It is worth noting that American generority in rebuilding Europe did not extend to the rebuilding of Japan. Truman blamed Japan for starting the war, and thought that Japan got what was coming to it, so refused to spend large amounts of taxpayer money there for basically anything but humanitarian projects.

MacArthur did, indeed, play a crucial role in reforming the political system, and laying the institutional groundwork for an economic recovery, but when you get down to it, it was the outbreak of the Korean War that really got investments started in Japan -- it wasn't selfless foreign aid.

In fact, rather than receiving large amounts of aid, Japan was actually compelled to pay the US a significant amount -- somewhere in the neighborhood of one quarter to one third of its annual budget, IIRC -- to support the American occupation.

Further, with respect to Europe, it is a little disingenuous to say that the Marshall Plan, which started a full two years after the war ended, was simply an act of selfless generosity. That the Iron Curtain had begun to descend in the East played a major role in an urgent rush to secure Western Europe from the specter of communism.

Just thought I should jump in and clear some of that up.

Little Nemo
03-31-2004, 05:20 PM
If the United States and the rest of the Coalition pulled out of Iraq, other interested parties would step in; the most obvious one being Iran. Iraq would be unable to resist an Iranian occupation and would be annexed. Then the world would have to deal with a more powerful Iran, which most people would think is not a good thing.

So it's in the best interest of the United States and other western countries to invest in the rebuilding of Iraq and help create a stable non-hostile nation.

03-31-2004, 06:42 PM
. . . Following a war, under what conditions is the victor to feel compelled to fund & orchestrate reconstruction of the country that was just beaten?
Well, to be slightly cynical, the rules are written by the winners, so the winners are never obliged to fund reconstruction; they do it if they want to, if they think it is their own interests to do so.

Technically, if State A invades State B without lawful justification, this is a breach
for whcih State A ought to make reparations. The unlawfulness of the invasion, and the obligation to make reparations, don't disappear if State A wins the war. However if State A wins , it's not likely that State B will be in a position to enforce its legal rights.

Conversely, if State A has a lawful justification for fighting State B, and State A wins, State A has no obligation to pay reparations to State B or to help with reconstruction in any way, but it may nevertheless choose to, in its own interests. The US funding reconstruction in Germany after the Second World War is a clear example.

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