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CH47A
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Nation Building

Tue Aug 31, 2021 11:58 pm

I saw so many posts in another thread that seemed to indicate a very strong negativity toward the idea of nation building, so I am asking if nation building is now considered an unacceptable practice?

Thank you for helping me better understand this.
 
DTVG
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:28 am

Well for one Nation Building is something that takes generations. For people who have lived in a completely different systems for decades, to develop an identity for a new nation and understand how separation of power, democracy or basic human rights work (because that is what the West generally pushed when it tries to build nations), it takes multiple years of education and understanding (probably more than a 50 years process).
Democratically governments cannot afford that timeframe, due to election cycles and the general fact that most voters prefer quick and swift conventional wars or interventions. Long term non-conventional (low-intensity) conflicts and long term commitments such as Afghanistan generally become unpopular over time, partly because voters miss the success stories…
 
CH47A
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:31 am

It didn't take us 50 years in Japan. Excuse me, by "us" I am referring to the United States of America.

In addition, the constitution they still use was basically written by the GHQ staff.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 12:40 am

CH47A wrote:
It didn't take us 50 years in Japan. Excuse me, by "us" I am referring to the United States of America.

In addition, the constitution they still use was basically written by the GHQ staff.


GHQ staff wrote the constitution but it was based largely on Japanese legal conventions and was extensively reviewed by what were considered liberal Japanese scholars at the time.

I lived in Japan for a number of years and nobody there would call the US occupation ‘nation building’. The experience of the war changed the character of the government dramatically but Japanese society and culture were not significantly altered by American administration. The intent of the US was to halt imperialism and establish a bulwark capitalist ally, not reform the society.
 
CH47A
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:00 am

My goodness, I didn't realize this would focus so much attention on Japan, but I do have to ask, for a starter on that point about not reforming the society in Japan; the land reforms were not societal reforms?

And then to broaden the scope of happenings after WW2, would any view post-war events in Germany as a form of nation building?

And did the United States, or any other nation, have any significant influence on societal reforms in Italy?

And this concept of nation building should not be focused solely on the role the U.S.A. might have had in other nations, because there certainly must be other nations in past years that had significant influence in the area of societal reforms in nations outside of their own? The former USSR comes to mind? (Yes, those are questions.)
 
DTVG
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:16 am

I don’t view Germany after WW2 as nation building. The whole idea of Germany as a nation (yes with somewhat different borders), institutions and even democracy (for a short period after WW1) already existed. Additionally you had multiple German intellectuals which already discussed the German nation and it’s (possible) forms 200 years before, so the whole idea of a democratic German nation was nothing new…
Last edited by DTVG on Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 1:16 am

CH47A wrote:
My goodness, I didn't realize this would focus so much attention on Japan, but I do have to ask, for a starter on that point about not reforming the society in Japan; the land reforms were not societal reforms?


I replied because the occupation of Japan was mischaracterized as nation building. As to land reform, it was less about societal change, and more about punishing wealthy individuals who had been outspoken in the march toward war. A secondary effect of the land reform was forming the rural political base that became huge for the LDP to maintain its hold on parliamentary power throughout the postwar era.
 
QF7
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:10 am

I’ve been discussing this question with a friend of mine so have a few thoughts that may be of interest.

First point, what is a nation? Obviously, but superficially, it is an area within defined boundaries controlled by an established government.

In many if not most cases this means an area that shares a common culture, language, identity, etc. But, take Afghanistan for example. There you have Turkmen, Pashtun, and many other tribal and ancestral differences. Belonging and loyalty first to the tribe and second to the nation. But they share a territory that is recognized by the international community as a “nation.”

Then consider the Kurds. Strongly cohesive, shared culture, but arbitrarily spilt across multiple “nations” (as defined by the U.N.).

Which of the two has the ingredients to make up a stronger, better functioning nation?

I submit that to successfully build a nation the people within that nation have to want to be a nation. And secondly they have to want to be a nation that reflects the governance practices, legal structure, and so on of the “builder.”
 
CH47A
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 5:18 am

Okey-dokey, I have to confess at still being somewhat (or more) surprised at an opinion posted here that what was done in Japan after WW2 was not nation-building. That flies in the face of countless scholars and I could create a huge list, but as I am a member of JSTOR I should offer this for study because I believe I am able to retrieve a copy. I didn't check a moment ago when I checked my records, but I think I can.

But I also choose this because of its focus on just three nations, with Japan being the linchpin of the study, and that other thread's topic of Afghanistan being one of the three of Mr. Monten's study.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/24541769
"Intervention and State-Building: Comparative Lessons from Japan, Iraq, and Afghanistan"
Mr. Jonathan Monten

Next is that point just posted about "defined boundaries" and that brings up the question of whether the British Empire was engaged in nation building?

And as I have already made note of, the influence of the USSR on nations that are now independent might need to be given some consideration.

But I am still in a state of some surprise at that idea that nation building with regard to the long list of reforms in Japan is a mischaracterization. Women were given rights, a religion was removed from being state sponsored, citizens were allowed to see the emperor, and the list goes on and on. Oh yes, and that includes all those new land-owning folks. Some in my wife's family lost a lot of land because of that one. But, luckily, if you owned trees up in the mountains, the GHQ forgot to go after those folks. Those trees became quite the commodity during reconstruction.
 
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Aaron747
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 5:30 am

CH47A wrote:
Okey-dokey, I have to confess at still being somewhat (or more) surprised at an opinion posted here that what was done in Japan after WW2 was not nation-building. That flies in the face of countless scholars and I could create a huge list, but as I am a member of JSTOR I should offer this for study because I believe I am able to retrieve a copy. I didn't check a moment ago when I checked my records, but I think I can.


Scholars love to toss terms around but will frequently use inclusive descriptions to avoid stringing together many linked topics. Academic writing is long-winded enough as it is. There are many differing definitions of nation-building.

A preliminary discussion here:

Nation-building may be defined as the process through which the boundaries of the modern state and those of the national community become congruent. The desired outcome is to achieve national integration. The major divide in the literature centers on the causal path that leads to national integration. Thus, nation-building has been theorized as a structural process intertwined with industrialization, urbanization, social mobilization, etc.; as the result of deliberate state policies that aim at the homogenization of a state along the lines of a specific constitutive story—that can and often does change over time and under certain conditions; as the product of top-bottom processes that could originate from forces outside of the boundaries of the relevant state; and as the product of bottom-up processes that do not require any state intervention to come about

https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/vi ... 2-0217.xml

By the above outline, the definition certainly applies to Afghanistan and many of the British Empire's colonial projects, and would *not* apply to Germany or Japan post-WW2, which was a unique situation better termed 'reconstruction'. Germany and Japan did not require industrialization or social mobilizations by occupying powers - much more simply, they required substantive adjustments to political systems and realignment to core Western economic values. Those have far more to do with a congruency of government focus and execution than national identity or culture.

As a perfect example from two of your points: women gained rights and state practice of Shintoism ended. Women gaining rights did not appreciably change their position in society or cultural expectations in work, pay scales, sex roles, home life etc - which are only now changing appreciably some decades later. State-mandated practice of Shintoism ended, but Shinto ceremonies continued to dominate marriage and other rites, and families owning shrines continued to enjoy tax exempt status, and still do.
 
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Aesma
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Re: Nation Building

Wed Sep 01, 2021 9:43 am

Is Japan really a democracy when the same party is in power since the first elections, aside from a few brief interruptions ? Just saying.

We only have to look at the former USSR to see that transitioning to democracy, even for people used to "modern life", not goat herders living in mud houses, is difficult.

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