Postwar Reconstruction, the Reverse Course and the New Way Forward: Bis Repetitas?

This paper compares two sets of US-led postwar reconstruction strategies: the Reverse Course in Japan after World War II and the New Way Forward in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. Relying on Antonio Gramsci’s concept of power, the article argues that in the wake of military victory in Japan and Iraq, the US attempted to found a new historical bloc in the occupied countries, a historical bloc centred on capitalism as a mode of production and US ideas and values as the ideological cement coalescing the Japanese and Iraqi population and elite around the US project. The paper contends that consistency of action between reconstruction policies, and between reconstruction policies and regional and global foreign policies, is the key to the efficiency of postwar reconstruction projects. Consistency of action refers to the maximisation of power resources and to their use in a coherent way; that is avoiding opposition and favouring complementarities between means of power used. Such consistency was achieved in Japan while its attainment in Iraq is less obvious

American Foreign Policy and Postwar Reconstruction: Comparing Japan and Iraq

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, President G.W. Bush argued that if setting up democracy in Japan and Germany after WW II was successful, then it should also be successful in Iraq. This book provides a detailed comparison of the reconstruction of Japan from 1945 to 1952 with the current reconstruction of Iraq, evaluating the key factors affecting the success or failure of such projects. The book seeks to understand why American officials believed that extensive social reengineering aiming at seeding democracy and economic development is replicable, through identifying factors explaining the outcome of U.S.-led post-conflict reconstruction projects. The analysis reveals that in addition to the effective use of material resources of power, the outcome of reconstruction projects depends on a variety of other intertwined factors, and Bridoux provides a new analytical framework relying on a Gramscian concept of power to develop a greater understanding of these factors, and the ultimate success or failure of these reconstruction projects.