Iraq is not the first time the
U.S. has helped a third world nation build a new army from scratch. It was done
earlier in Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, South Korea and the
Philippines. All of these efforts resulted in more effective forces, and those
nations acquired useful military traditions that persist to the present. But
none of them became close of the U.S. military in capability. The problem was
that all of them were heavily influenced by the local culture, and usually not
for the better. All of the Latin American forces spent most of their time
propping up military dictators. Same thing happened in the Philippines and
South Korea, although in both those cases, there was an eventual transition to
democracy. Only the South Koreans became a military force close to the U.S. in
capabilities. The Philippines has some first rate units.
from all this is that building a new army for a country does not change any of
the local customs that favor dictators over democracy. No one has yet come up
with a perfect formula for installing democracy. You can encourage it, but you
can't make it appear, and sustain itself. Building a better army is easy,
compared to eliminating the social, economic and religious customs that work
against the establishment of democracy. All this is a big deal within the U.S.
Army, where history is considered a valuable tool for trying to make nation
building work. That has produced lots of new ideas, but few new solutions.