As a result of the wars undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan by the George W. Bush administration, the United States has taken on a responsibility to reconstruct the political and economic institutions of these countries. This responsibility has been carried out through provincial reconstruction teams that operate at the local level to rebuild the societies shattered by war. In conceptual terms, the responsibility increasingly reflects the new emphasis on reconstruction and stabilization operations laid out in the State Department’s 2011 Quadrennial Defense and Development Review, which sets the groundwork for future interventions both to prevent states from failing and to rebuild states devastated by war or natural disaster. The ambitious nature of this strategy suggests a new age of American imperialism under which the “responsibility to protect” of the 1990s may become the “responsibility to fix” of the twenty-first century.

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