GERMANY - LESSONS
examination of Allied reconstruction efforts in Germany
highlights a number of important lessons regarding democratization,
civil administration, security, and economics:
Democracy can be transferred, and societies can, in some
situations, be encouraged to change.
Defeated populations can sometimes be more cooperative and
malleable than anticipated.
Enforced accountability for past injustices, through such
forums as war crimes tribunals, can facilitate transformation.
Dismembered and divided countries can be difficult to put
Reparations immediately after the end of the conflict are
economy must grow before a country can compensate the victims
of the conflict.
Permitting more than one power to determine economic policy
can significantly delay economic recovery.
most important lesson from the U.S. occupation of Germany
is that military force and political capital can, at least
in some circumstances, be successfully employed to underpin
democratic and societal transformation. Furthermore, such
a transformation can be enduring. U.S., French, and British
efforts to help build democratic institutions in Germany
and to encourage the establishment of political parties
were incremental and began in 1945. Over the next several
years, these powers oversaw local and national elections;
the establishment of a constitution and a bicameral parliament;
and, in September 1949, the election of Konrad Adenauer
as the first postwar chancellor of the newly formed West
German state. While U.S. and allied efforts were important
in ensuring this outcome, the West German population obviously
played a critical role. Indeed, by the late 1940s, Western
allies increasingly gave sovereignty of political institutions
to the German people, who continued to deepen the democratization
officials anticipated and planned to deal with significant
residual German resistance following the surrender of its
armed forces. Yet no resistance of consequence emerged then
or at any time thereafter, much as in Haiti during Operation
Uphold Democracy (see Chapter Five). The large number of
U.S. and allied military forces in West Germany and the
establishment of a strong constabulary force preempted most
resistance. Indeed, the constabulary force was specifically
created to respond to incidents of civil unrest, conduct
mounted and dismounted police patrols, interdict smuggling
operations, and aid in intelligence gathering. This contrasts
starkly with nation-building efforts in such countries as
Bosnia, which were marred by organized crime and civil unrest.
institution of war crimes tribunals and the thorough purging
from public life of those associated with the Nazi regime
was messy, controversial, and occasionally unfair. However,
it consolidated the democratization process by removing
a potential threat to a nascent democratic political system.
Furthermore, denazification eliminated virtually all support
for the return of the Nazi regime and caused a thorough
repudiation of Nazi policies in Germany society. In short,
justice and retribution in postwar Germany facilitated the
population’s reconciliation with its history and its neighbors.
division of Germany into four occupation zones with independent
political, economic, and military authority took 45 years
to overcome. This was largely because the German question
became tangled in the Cold War struggle between the United
States and the Soviet Union. As historian John Lewis Gaddis
each superpower most feared was that [Germany] might align
itself with its Cold War adversary: if that were to happen,
the resulting concentration of military, industrial, and
economic power could be too great to overcome.
reassembling the three Western zones took nearly half a
decade, lengthening the occupation and slowing many reforms.
Consequently, it is clear that divided countries can be
very difficult to put back together—even among allies.
economic policies General Clay and the U.S. Army personnel
under his command pursued were key to the economic recovery
of West Germany. In the U.S. zone, Clay and his subordinates
rapidly and efficiently organized the provision of humanitarian
assistance and restarted government services and economic
activity. The U.S. Army’s focus on “getting things moving”
was key to minimizing humanitarian suffering and accelerating
economic recovery in its zone in the immediate aftermath
of World War II. Similar efforts in the British zone were
also constructive. The American and British zones were large
net recipients of assistance in the first few years after
World War II. These inflows were needed to cover the cost
of government services and to provide minimum levels of
food and other goods. They played a crucial role in jump-starting
economic activity in West Germany.
reconstruction efforts the United States undertook in Japan
successful. In comparison to the German case, Japan’s transformation
was quicker; smoother; and, in many ways, easier than Germany’s,
although in the end Japan was less integrated with its neighbors.
The experience yielded a number of important lessons:
Democracy can be transferred to non-Western societies.
How responsibility for the war is assigned can affect internal
political dynamics and external relations for years to come.
Co-opting existing institutions can facilitate nation-building
better than building new ones from scratch.
Unilateral nation-building can be easier than multilateral
Concentrating the power to make economic policy decisions
in the hands of a single authority can facilitate economic
Delegating implementation of economic policy decisions to
local governing elites, with their own priorities, can significantly
dilute the effectiveness of changes.
Idealistic reforms designed for the long-term improvement
of the recipient nation must sometimes give way to the immediate,
global concerns of the occupying power.
post–World War II democratization was facilitated by the
fact that Germans already had significant experience with
democracy, were surrounded on at least three sides by well-established
democracies, and were soon integrated into a dense network
of democratically based international institutions, such
as NATO and the European Coal and Steel Community. These
opportunities did not emerge for Japan. Despite the absence
of a long democratic history and the existence of an authoritarian
culture, nation-building in Japan was successful. The speed
and relative ease of the Japanese transformation had two
primary causes: the U.S. decision to co-opt Japanese institutions
and the unilateral process of nation-building.
the U.S. occupation authorities retained and adapted existing
Japanese institutions. The paucity of U.S. personnel with
both language and technical capabilities led MacArthur and
his SCAP staff to retain the existing Japanese government
and give the occupation authorities a supervisory role.
Indeed, U.S. authorities made use of the existing political
and bureaucratic apparatus rather than rebuild Japanese
institutions from scratch, although they did engineer the
drafting of a new Japanese constitution, reorganize the
police, and purge some in leadership and key administrative
positions. The occupation was managed through a fully articulated
Japanese government, ranging from the emperor to the prime
minister, ministries, parliament, and courts. This starkly
contrasted with Germany, where most such institutions were
abolished and then rebuilt from scratch.
occupation authority was centered in one nation and, indeed,
one man: Douglas MacArthur. This made the reconstruction
process less troublesome than in Germany, since neither
MacArthur nor SCAP were obligated to consult with other
countries. The two most important international bodies for
oversight and consultation, the Far Eastern Commission and
the ACJ, had little power. Unilateralism allowed U.S. authorities
to spend more time and energy overseeing reconstruction
and less effort forging a consensus among partners. At the
same time, however, the failure to involve any of Japan’s
neighbors and former enemies in its transformation contributed
to a lack of regional reconciliation. None of these nations
was involved in the reconstruction process and none has
yet been fully reconciled to the reemergence of a prosperous
and powerful postwar Japan. Indeed, the Japanese were not
forced to break with their recent past as thoroughly as
were the Germans. In addition, the decision to absolve the
emperor in whose name the war was fought of all responsibility
leaves the Japanese today somewhat less reconciled with
their history, less ready to admit their war guilt, and
consequently less reconciled with their neighbors than are
concentration of power in a single authority, SCAP, permitted
more-consistent and -dramatic economic policy changes than
in Germany, where economic policymaking authority was divided
across the four zones the occupying powers ruled. In Japan,
SCAP pushed through a land reform that destroyed the power
of the landholding classes and made the peasantry property
owners. SCAP also greatly expanded workers’ rights and forced
through the dissolution of the large business combines (zaibatsu)
that had dominated the economy.
the beginning, there was some tension between the U.S. policymakers
who advocated the democratization of economic opportunity
and those who favored working with existing economic elites
to bring about a quick economic recovery. Many of the actions
SCAP initially took—breaking up the large land holdings,
granting workers more rights and powers, and dismantling
the largest industrial conglomerates —seemed designed to
impede rather than foster economic reconstruction.
Eventually, U.S. global interests trumped the desires of
SCAP reformers. The fall of the Chinese nationalists and
the growing recognition that Japan could be a good ally
in the fight against communism led to a shift in emphasis
within the U.S. government toward policies that would promote
Japanese economic self-sufficiency and contributed to the
consolidation of political and economic power in Japan by
- LESSONS LEARNED
efforts in Bosnia have had mixed success. NATO was
organized and effective, but adopted a limited view of its
responsibilities. On the civil side, international responsibilities
were more dispersed and slower to take hold. Bosnia has
made political and economic progress but more than seven
years after the Dayton Accord, it is not yet a self-sustaining
political or economic entity.
lessons include the following:
Unity of command can be as important for the civil aspects
of peace operations as for the military.
Elections are an important benchmark in progress toward
democracy. Held too early, they can strengthen rejectionist
forces rather than promote further transformation.
Organized crime can emerge as the greatest obstacle to transformation.
It is difficult to put a nation back together if its neighbors
are pulling it apart.
Successful reconstruction in poor and divided countries
requires substantial long-term commitment from donors.
Foreign donors need to take an active role in economic policy
in countries with stalemated or ineffective governments.
was effective in ensuring broad participation, unity of
command, and U.S. leadership on the military side of the
the civil side, however, the United States took the opposite
approach. In a misguided effort, it sought to advance NATO
authority at the expense of the EU, and U.S. influence at
the expense of the Europeans. For example, there was no
contact and little coordination between NATO and OHR at
the beginning of the operation. The result has been endemic
conflict among competing international agencies, indecisive
leadership of the transformational effort, and unnecessary
prolongation of the international military presence.
Clinton administration originally set an arbitrary one-year
deadline for the Bosnia mission. In an effort to meet that
deadline, it pressed successfully for early and frequent
elections at each level of governance. In most cases, the
elections returned to office the nationalist parties that
had helped spark the civil war and strengthened those resisting
the creation of a democratic and multiethnic state. Holding
elections before viable democratic political institutions
were built created a number of problems that made democratization
more—rather than less—difficult. Over time, however, OHR
and the OSCE helped remove candidates suspected of war crimes
and who attempted to obstruct implementation of the Dayton
in other postcommunist societies, the emergence of organized
crime accompanied Bosnia’s transition to market economy.
In the immediate aftermath of a conflict, governments have
virtually no tax revenues because of the collapse in economic
activity. However, foreign pressure to raise taxes to cover
government expenditures can have unproductive side effects.
In the case of Bosnia, the continued use of customs tariffs
resulted in widespread smuggling, which provided the economic
basis for the continued operation of criminal gangs and
paramilitary groups. Bosnia now has free-trade agreements
with all its major trading partners. The country would have
been better off if it had immediately abolished tariffs
and had donors temporarily funding the budgetary shortfall.
the aftermath of the Dayton Accord, both the Serbian and
Croatian governments continued to pursue their divisive
and irredentist objectives in Bosnia through nonmilitary
means. Only after replacement of the Milosevic and Tudjman
regimes with democratic successors did Bosnia’s neighbors
begin to work with the rest of the international community
to push it together rather than pull it apart.
international community’s long-term financial commitment
has been crucial for economic growth in Bosnia. Economic
growth was very rapid in the years immediately following
the Dayton Accord, driven by the peace and by foreign assistance.
In 2002, the Bosnian economy first showed signs that growth
would be sustained as economic assistance is reduced. OHR
and international financial institutions continue to play
a key, positive role in economic policymaking in Bosnia.
of Bosnia’s acrimonious interethnic politics and the weak
constitutional authority of the national government, decisions
to reform the economy were made very slowly, if at all.
The logjam was broken only after the authority of OHR was
decisions on the national currency, taxation, budget, and
privatization have only been made because of OHR. More than
seven years after the Dayton Accord, OHR still plays a key
role in economic policymaking in Bosnia. Moreover, like
the Haitian government, Bosnia’s governments have resisted
privatization for political and personal reasons. Only with
steady pressure from donors, international financial institutions,
and OHR has privatization made progress in Bosnia. The process
has still not been completed.
has been the best managed of the U.S. post–Cold War ventures
in nation-building. U.S. and European forces demilitarized
the KLA; local and national elections took place two years
after the conflict ended; and economic growth has been strong.
the experience yielded a number of important lessons regarding
civil administration, democratization, and economic growth:
Broad participation, extensive burden-sharing, unity of
effective U.S. leadership can be compatible.
A slow mobilization of civil elements in peace operations
can be costly.
Uncertainty over final international status can hinder democratic
When countries lack effective governmental institutions,
placing expatriate staff in positions of authority can facilitate
economic policymaking and implementation.
Large-scale assistance can rapidly restore economic growth
in conjunction with effective economic institutions.
of the most significant aspects of the reconstruction effort
in Kosovo was the degree of collaboration and burden-sharing
among participant countries and international organizations.
Military unity of command was achieved through NATO, although
U.S. troops represented only 16 percent of the force. While
there were some disagreements among NATO countries over
such issues as target sets and operational goals during
the military campaign, postwar military cooperation was
much smoother. KFOR acted swiftly to demilitarize the KLA,
some of whose members were integrated into the newly established
TMK. Civil unity of command was established under UN auspices.
Responsibility for economic reconstruction was assigned
to the EU, acting under UN oversight. Again, U.S. economic
assistance represented only 16 percent of the total. In
sum, while Kosovo has been the best organized and best resourced
of the post–Cold War operations, it has also been the one
with the lowest U.S. contribution, in proportion to that
of other participants.
its comparative success, the Kosovo operation was plagued
by slow start-ups in most aspects of civil implementation,
such as CIVPOL. Italy, France, Spain, and other countries
offered police contingents to perform such tasks as border
patrol, law enforcement, and the general maintenance of
public security. SPUs were established for more-difficult
functions, such as crowd control, and included separate
units from single countries, such as the Spanish Guardia
Civil and the French Gendarmerie. It unnecessarily took
several months for these units to become fully established.
Fortunately, the international mandate contained in UNSCR
1244 explicitly gave responsibility for the maintenance
of law and order to KFOR, pending UNMIK’s capacity to assume
the responsibility. Yet, too much time was wasted for one
of the operation’s most important tasks.
Kosovo’s final status was unresolved—and is still in limbo
today. This postponement, essential for purposes of regional
stability, has nevertheless retarded the process of ethnic
reconciliation and democratic transformation in Kosovo.
Bernard Kouchner, the UN administrator in Kosovo, has argued
that, without greater clarity about Kosovo’s status—including
Belgrade’s authority over the territory—it was difficult
to administer the territory effectively.
a province of Serbia, Kosovo had no independent governmental
budgetary or economic institutions. After the intervention,
the international community helped Kosovo set up a central
bank, treasury, and finance ministry within a few months.
It also adopted a new currency for Kosovo, the euro. Reforming
commercial law has proceeded more slowly. Competent expatriates
initially staffed the new financial institutions. These
individuals introduced systems and practices that have made
the institutions function much more effectively than their
counterparts in Haiti or even Bosnia. Early on, expatriate
staff were paired with locals. This process enabled the
expatriates to transfer their knowledge and management skills
also enabled them to judge the competency of their eventual
replacements and to recommend staffing changes, when appropriate.
the exception of Germany, Kosovo enjoyed the most rapid
economic recovery among the cases studied. Foreign assistance
was also the highest as a share of GDP. The large per capita
and absolute inflows of assistance to Kosovo, public and
private, have been crucial to the rapid initial rates of
recovery. The EU was largely responsible for economic reconstruction,
and states and international organizations provided over
$671 million during the last six months of 1999 and $704
million in 2000.
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