CSS Research & Policy Seminar: Karim Elkady

Karim Elkady, the Smith Richardson strategy and policy fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies, presented his next book, “Alliances that Matter: Why the United States Succeeds in Rebuilding States under its Military Occupation,” on November 19 at the CSS Research and Policy Seminar. After Elkady’s presentation, Jeffrey Taliaferro, professor of political science at Tufts University, discussed the project and offered feedback.

Elkady’s book project assesses the conditions necessary for the United States to succeed in rebuilding states under its military occupation. Not only are American military occupations expensive in terms of their human and financial costs, but their outcomes are also far from guaranteed and the risk of failure is high. For that reason, a robust policy debate exists within academic and policy communities about the utility of using military force to rebuild countries after intervention. As laid out by Elkady, some voices within these communities argue against American state-building interventions, while others make the case that support for those endeavors is not

Elkady spent the rest of his presentation highlighting the contributions of his research, after which Professor Taliaferro critiqued his current manuscript. One of the important observations Taliaferro made is that in some cases of state-building interventions U.S. interests in a target country change over time. This shift makes it difficult to evaluate the outcome of American efforts and determine whether they were a success or failure. After Taliaferro’s discussion, participants in the seminar raised important questions to Elkady and engaged in a lively debate about why the United States succeeded in some cases, such as in West Germany and Japan, and failed in others, including in Vietnam and Iraq.

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