RAND Issues 'The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building'
Feb 12, 2007
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Since the end of the Cold War, the United States, NATO, the United Nations, and a range of other states and nongovernmental organizations have become increasingly involved in nation-building operations. Nation-building involves the use of armed force as part of a broader effort to promote political and economic reforms, with the objective of transforming a society emerging from conflict into one at peace with itself and its neighbors. This guidebook is a practical “how-to” manual on the conduct of effective nation-building. It is organized around the constituent elements that make up any nation-building mission: military, police, rule of law, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, democratization, and development. The chapters describe how each of these components should be organized and employed, how much of each is likely to be needed, and the likely cost. The lessons are drawn principally from 16 U.S.- and UN-led nation-building operations since World War II and from a forthcoming study on European-led missions. In short, this guidebook presents a comprehensive history of best practices in nation-building and serves as an indispensable reference for the preplanning of future interventions and for contingency planning on the ground.
Preparing for Nation-Building
Rule of Law
Conclusion: The Cost of Nation-Building
" ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Nation-Building’ is a magnificent work. Many readers should recognize the vital implications of your work for foreign policy in the next administration. But I would add that your study offers valuable new insights into some of the greatest questions in political science and economics, questions about the foundations of the state and successful societies. Successful democracy then requires many leaders with good reputations, which can be encouraged by starting with local democracy, as Dobbins et al. argue in this book."
- Roger B. Myerson, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chicago; 2007 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics
"This new book produced by the RAND Corporation is a remarkable success. You have to read 'The Beginner's Guide to Nation Building', by James Dobbins et al , carefully although the text is clearly written and far from excessively technical. The reason is that many nation building missions we deem damn near impossible, in most countries, [see Part II of Security First], RAND considers possible. But Dobbins points out such nation building exercises are difficult to achieve, can be achieved only after hostilities have ceased, are much more costly than you would expect, and take much longer than expected as well."
- The Communitarian Network
"The United States and the United Nations have, with increasing frequency, embarked on military interventions and nation-building operations that have become larger, longer, and more ambitious. Dobbins and his associates at RAND have led the way in reflecting on these experiences in an effort to find lessons for the future. In this volume, they offer insights drawn from the review of 24 nation-building missions. Some of their findings take the shape of a list of guidelines for planning and deploying personnel and resources—not least the realistic matching of goals to assets…"
- Foreign Affairs, May/June 2007
"No challenge in international relations today is more pressing or more difficult than that of supporting weak states. James Dobbins, one of the leading practitioners of the art, offers a set of clear, simple prescriptions for helping to build a stable peace in the wake of conflict and disorder. Drawing on the often painful lessons of recent history, Dobbins brings a new level of rigor and openness to this essential subject, and provides a useful tool for all in the United Nations who are engaged in meeting this challenge."
- Kofi A. Annan, United Nations Secretary-General
"I cooperated closely with Ambassador Dobbins in facing the challenges of postconflict stabilization in the Balkans and then Afghanistan, and came to greatly value his expertise. This latest RAND study draws upon that expertise and demonstrates his deep insights into the field of nation-building."
- Joschka Fisher, Visiting Professor at Princeton University, former German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor
"Cogent, concise, and yet remarkably comprehensive in both its thematic and country coverage, 'The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building' distills the lessons from 24 historical case studies. The resulting wisdom—detailed, accessible, sobering, and instructive—should guide every policymaker who considers or prepares for such bold intervention, and every student and analyst who attempts to assess it. This is (and will likely remain for some time) the essential manual for rebuilding war-torn states."
- Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
"The value in this Guide is as much in the questions it forces policymakers to ask as in the recommendations it offers. If policymakers had asked before going into Iraq who would maintain law and order, how quickly could local police and military maintain the peace, how would local governance be established, or what would be the source of creating jobs—and found that they had few answers—then perhaps the whole mission would have been radically reassessed. The Guide also presents a challenge to our civilian institutions and the U.S. Congress. If we hope to manage the international consequences posed by conflict abroad, then we must build civilian capacities to support governance, the rule of law, and job creation, just as we would never expect to fight a war without training and equipping our soldiers."
- Carlos Pascual, Vice President of the Brookings Institution, former Coordinator for Stabilization and Reconstruction, U.S. Department of State
"I know of no challenge in international affairs as demanding as that of state-building—what in the U.S. is called nationbuilding— and none where it is as imperative to learn from our experiences—good as well as bad—during the last few years. James Dobbins has not only guided U.S. policy on some of these operations, but has also led the groundbreaking work by RAND to draw the necessary lessons from them. This book will be required reading for policymakers and practitioners alike."
- Carl Bildt, Swedish Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister, and first High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina
The research described in this report was sponsored by the Smith Richardson Foundation and was conducted under the auspices of the International Security and Defense Policy Center within the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations.
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