Empires do not just require troops at the frontier post; they also need effective governance of foreign lands. This becomes particularly difficult when local conditions are chaotic and the societies, along with the political class, are divided. Until the rather special cases of Afghanistan and Iraq, the West's main recent experiences of this challenge were in the former Yugoslavia and East Timor. Looking at these cases, and drawing on other relevant episodes, Caplan explores the complex interaction between the administrative demands placed on international organizations (introducing a modicum of law and order, dealing with refugees, rebuilding the economy) and the political context. A crucial aspect is that these organizations, and their leading members, have their own agendas and concerns. With its detailed and shrewd analysis, it is hard to see how Caplan's measured account will be bettered. His scorecard on these undertakings is by no means negative, but the reader is left in no doubt about the problems, including the pitfalls of managing an effective transfer of power to the local people.
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