No Guts No Glory: Essential Elements For Post-War Reconstruction

By William Way
Cornell International Affairs Review
2010, Vol. 3 No. 2 | pg. 2/2 |


Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings. - Proverbs 22:29

Reindustrialization is the fourth essential element for post-war democracy. Without industrialization, post-war countries are weak and easy prey for dictatorship. With industrialization, even former totalitarian countries grow into democratic societies. Germany provides a contrast between one government that promoted industrialization and others that did not. The Weimar and the East German regimes collapsed after failing to achieve post-war reindustrialization to compete on the world market.36, 37

In contrast, in post-war West Germany, the government and the people committed to reindustrialization, and to working long hours at low wages to achieve it. The government promoted exports to drive national recovery and reindustrialization.38 The government also provided large subsidies to promote growth in heavy industries, such as ship and aircraft manufacturing.39 Through its central bank, the government controlled inflation and provided economic stability.40 Through these commitments and hard work, Germany attained world-class economic status and a democratic society.

The Japanese and Korean "economic miracles" are additional examples of successful post-war reindustrialization that produced democracy. In the aftermath of the war, half of Japan's heavy industries laid in ruins.41 During the U.S. occupation, the Japanese vowed to reindustrialize and to rebuild their nation's wealth and power, in order to guarantee their survival as a sovereign nation.42 They committed to the education of their youths. They committed to reinvestment and accepted substandard living conditions in order to plow savings into investments in heavy industries.43

Japanese companies competed for greater market share in the world market through aggressively price-cutting.44 The Japanese government also provided tax exemptions and other subsidies to heavy industries.45 The government pushed businesses to move from medium to heavy industries, then ultimately into knowledge industries. By the 1980s, Japan succeeded in attaining the status of the second largest economy in the world, as well as becoming a leading democratic nation.

Korea's rise to world-class status though reindustrialization is also inspirational. After the Korean War armistice, South Korea was a nation of illiterate peasants. It had neither natural resources nor industry; North Korea controlled those assets on its side of the demilitarized zone.46 Yet South Koreans committed to the survival of their nation as an independent state and to the attainment of world-class economic power. They educated their workforce through military training and university instruction.47

Like the Japanese, they also accepted lower standards of living to pour savings into investments in heavy industries. The Korean government provided tax benefits, contracts, and subsidies to encourage heavy industries and exports.48 Today, Korea has attained leadership status in heavy industries, as well as in knowledge industries. Moreover, they have overcome repeated military coups and enjoy a stable civilian elected government.

Cuba is an example of what happens where there is no post-war industrialization. After the Spanish American War, Cuba was complacent in economic development and chose to continue with legacy sugar plantations as its main industry.49 Without its own medium and heavy industries, Cuba relied on imports from the U.S. for more sophisticated goods and services. The Cuban government and businesses did not aim for world-class industrialization. Ultimately, the government was toppled by military strongman Batista, who was later succeeded later by Castro.

Reindustrialization is essential for post-war democracy in Iraq. Development of its heavy industries will provide Iraq with independence and stability. Iraq has the ability to achieve reindustrialization. Pre-war Iraq had a growing class of professionals.50 Iraq started development of heavy industries, such as steel and aluminum manufacturing, in the 1980s.51 Iraq also produced its own main battle tanks and AWACs.52 The launching of a 48-ton threestage rocket, capable of putting satellites and warheads into orbit, demonstrated Iraq's pre-war technical sophistication.53 Iraq has the assets and the ability to achieve industrialization once the appropriate environment exists. Just as historical examples demonstrate, reindustrialization is essential to bring democracy and freedom to Iraq.

Joint forces commanders successfully contributed to the formation of democratic nations in the aftermath of modern wars, including operations in Germany, Japan, and Korea. By focusing efforts in the four essential areas of long-term U.S. commitment, education, rearmament and reindustrialization, U.S. forces can successfully contribute to bringing about democracy and economic strength in Iraq, Afghanistan and future post-war operations.


  1. Military governments in Cuba, Germany and Japan have been run by Army Generals, with overall guidance from the joint staff in Washington. For example, Joint Chiefs of Staff Directive 1067 controlled General Lucius Clay’s government of post-war Germany. Clay at 7.
  2. Hudson, Rex A. (Ed.). (2002). Cuba: a country study (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress.
  3. (Hudson, 2002, p. 33)
  4. (Hudson, 2002, p. 53)
  5. Ozment, Steven. (2004). A Mighty Fortress. New York, New York: HarperCollins.
  6. Bark, Dennis L., & Gress, David R. (1989). A History of West Germany. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.
  7. (Bark, 1989, p. 345, 392)
  8. (Cumings, 1997, p. 186, 200)
  9. Savada, Andrea Matles, & Shaw, William (Eds.). (1992). South Korea: a country study (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress., p. 120
  10. (Cumings, 1997, p. 322)
  11. Cohen, Theodore. (1987). Remaking Japan: the American Occupation as New Deal. New York, New York: Free Press., p. 4
  12. (Cohen, 1987, p. 456)
  13. Dower, John W. (1999). Embracing Defeat. New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company. p. 23
  14. (Bark, 1989, p. 345)
  15. Solsten, Eric (Ed.). (1996). Germany: a country study (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 440
  16. (Cumings, 1997, p. 311)
  17. (Savada, 1992, p. 115)
  18. (Cumings, 1997, p. 318)
  19. (Savada, 1992, p. 35)
  20. Metz, Helen C. (Ed.). (1990). Iraq: a country study (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress., p. 244
  21. (Savada, 1992, p. 38)
  22. (Savada, 1992, p. 62)
  23. Dolan, Ronald E., & Worden, Robert L. (Eds.). (1992). Japan: a country study (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 136
  24. (Dolan, 1992, p. 136)
  25. (Dolan, 1992, p. 198)
  26. (Dolan, 1992, p. 136)
  27. (Cumings, 1997, p. 300)
  28. (Savada, 1992, p. 120)
  29. (Savada, 1992, p. 192)
  30. (Savada, 1992, p. 62)
  31. (Hudson, 2002, p. 33)
  32. (Hudson, 2002, p. 65)
  33. (Hudson, 2002, p. 45)
  34. (Metz, 1990, p. 108)
  35. (Metz, 1990, p. 114)
  36. (Solsten, 1996, p. 75)
  37. (Ozment, 2004, p. 252)
  38. (Bark, 1989, p. 392)
  39. (Solsten, 1996, p. 338)
  40. (Solsten, 1996, p. 248)
  41. (Cohen, 1989, p. 4)
  42. (Dolan, 1992, p. 198)
  43. (Dolan, 1992, p. 201)
  44. (Dolan, 1992, p. 202)
  45. (Dolan, 1992, p. 206)
  46. (Savada, 1992, p. 29)
  47. (Cumings, 1997, p. 311)
  48. (Savada, 1992, p. 43)
  49. (Hudson, 2002, p. 53)
  50. (Metz, 1990, p. 108)
  51. (Metz, 1990, p. 152)
  52. (Metz, 1990, p. xxix)
  53. (Metz, 1990, p. xxix)

Photos courtesy of:

  • “Provincial Reconstruction Team, Panjshir, Afghanistan.” Wikimedia Commons. 3 April 2010.,_Panjshir,_Afghanistan.jpg

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