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So many government efforts run aground on problems with poor incentives. When the U.S. government intervenes overseas, those poor incentives are compounded by trying to impose Western values and institutions, usually by force, on peoples with starkly different cultural values, customs, and ways of doing things. Such was the case with failed U.S. interventions in Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, and Iraq.
And then there are those government efforts overseas that don’t make any sense at all. The U.S. military’s social-work project in Afghanistan is one of them. Unlike the invasion of Iraq, which was conducted to remodel Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship into a Western-style democracy that would be the envy of the Middle East, the war in Afghanistan was supposed to be designed to cripple the 9/11 attackers and make their Afghan sanctuary unusable for terrorism in the future.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government felt that the best way to do the counterterrorism mission was to expand the effort into remodeling Afghanistan into a Western-style democracy.
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