Radical Reconstructions: A Critical Analogy of US Post-Conflict State-building

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Post-conflict state-building has been at the heart of contemporary debate in IR. However, state-building endeavours by foreign countries are not a novel phenomenon. This article establishes an analogy between the present-day US state-building experience in Iraq and the reconstruction effort in the postbellum South in the 19th century. The aim is to try to identify similarities and differences in the dynamics involved in both instances. The assessment demonstrates that both reconstruction projects did not look to restore the previously existing political order. Quite on the contrary, the secular state-building experiments of the US have culminated in the institutionalization of an agenda of radical transformation of the existing political, social, and economic orders. Both Radical Reconstruction and the War in Iraq can be best understood in the framework of the contemporary peacebuilding project, encompassed within the liberal state-building enterprise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191
Number of pages224
JournalNação e Defesa
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • State-building
  • international relations (IR)
  • International Security
  • liberal peace


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