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Should the United States Try to Nation-Build Around the World?

32.3% yes
67.7% no

Over the past two decades, the United States has dedicated its efforts towards a policy of spreading democracy in the Middle East and Southern Asia. The Iraq War and the Afghanistan War are the two most prominent examples of this. Our military successfully removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but it remained for 20 more years to fight insurgents and build a functioning democratic society. In the past month, the United States significantly reduced its military presence in Afghanistan, and the Taliban retook its lost ground with astonishing speed. This turn of events has led to debates around why operations in Afghanistan in the 21st century failed and if they ever could have succeeded.

Those who support the United States trying to nation-build around the world argue that our country needs to help create stable democratic societies to bring liberty to peoples who haven’t had the opportunity to experience it. They contend that as the leader of the free world, the U.S. has an obligation to help others develop democratic societies. Additionally, they argue it is in the self-interest of Americans to nation-build in places like the Middle East and Southern Asia. They argue that the Taliban allowed al-Qaeda to use Afghanistan as a base to train for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which never would have happened if the country had a stable, democratic government.

Those who oppose the United States trying to nation-build around the world argue that doing so will only harm our country. They contend that given history, topography, and internal conflicts in countries like Afghanistan, a Western-style democratic government may not be attainable. Therefore, they argue, we are fighting a losing battle in trying to build such a functioning democracy in a place that faces opposition to it. This side may also argue that there are other ways we can maintain national security without resorting to nation-building such as intelligence and counter-terrorism operations.

So, what do you think? Should the United States Try to Nation-Build Around the World? Students may answer Yes, it should; No, it should not, or a nuanced answer in-between!

Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following: 

  • Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner 
  • Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers 
  • Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors 
  • They address counter-arguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner 
  • They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly 


For this question, BRI will be giving away two $25 gift cards, one to each person providing the best defense of each side of the debate. Both students will also win BRI swag. Each student winner will also be entered for a chance to win a grand prize of a $1,000 cash scholarship. Additionally, the referring teachers for both students will each win a $25 gift card and BRI swag.

Be sure to submit your answers in time to be considered for our prizes!

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