Nation-Building

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After conflicts end, allied nations must undertake military, political, humanitarian, and economic activities to enable states to prosper, but these activities do not always succeed. RAND has examined U.S., United Nations, and European Union nation-building efforts since World War II to determine key principles for their success and draw implications for current and future nation-building investment.

  • Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a rally marking the anniversary of launching their motto (Sarkha) in which they call for death to America and death to Israel in Sanaa, Yemen, June 28, 2019, photo by Mohamed al-Sayaghi/Reuters

    Report

    Building an Enduring Peace in Yemen

    Feb 25, 2021

    Peace in Yemen will require a coordinated approach to security and an international body with the influence, mission, and resources to support what will be a decades-long process of reconciliation, reconstruction, and redevelopment. To succeed, this body must be led by Yemenis, giving them a clear voice and stake in shaping their future.

  • Building cranes and power lines connecting high-tension electricity pylons next to a construction site in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 10, 2020, photo by Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Rebuilding Ukraine

    Apr 18, 2022

    By leveraging better investment conditions and reforms and broad international support, Ukraine could carry out a well-executed reconstruction program once the fighting ends. It might repair much of the war damage and help Ukraine move into the ranks of faster-growing European economies.

Explore Nation Building

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Misunderstood Lessons of Bosnia for Syria

    The 1992 to 1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been highly influential as an analogy for understanding intervention in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and most recently in Syria.

    Mar 3, 2015

  • French, British, and EU flags

    Report

    Crisis and conflict prevention strategies: An international comparison

    This report is a translated excerpt from a 2012 report, focusing on conflict prevention approaches in four national cases: France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

    Feb 25, 2015

  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington

    Commentary

    Taking It One Crisis at a Time

    The main difference between the immediate post-Cold War decade and the post-9/11 era as regards the variety of international challenges is that during that earlier period these challenges were faced and dealt with seriatim, rather than allowed to accumulate.

    Aug 19, 2014

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter throws a Molotov cocktail in West Aleppo December 2013

    Report

    Getting to Negotiations in Syria

    It appears that there is almost no prospect for a negotiated solution to the civil war in Syria in the near term. This is because the Syrian factions believe — perhaps rightly — that they have more to gain by carrying on the fight than by negotiating toward peace.

    Jul 14, 2014

  • Afghan security forces leave the site of burning NATO supply trucks after an attack by militants near the Pakistani-Afghan border, June 19, 2014

    Commentary

    Is Afghanistan the Next to Crumble?

    Amid the stunning rout of Iraqi forces in northern Iraq, many have asked whether a similar reversal of American foreign policy goals is possible in Afghanistan. The answer is a qualified yes. Now is the time for the United States to understand Afghanistan's coming struggle, and to help Afghans build a path to stability.

    Jun 24, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Iran's Interests in Afghanistan Provide Opportunities for Cooperation with United States

    Although relations between Iran and the U.S. have been strained, both countries have similar goals in wanting to see a stable Afghanistan free of Taliban control. In the event of a nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. can work together in countering narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan and resolve water disputes between the neighboring nations.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

    Report

    Iran's Interests in Afghanistan Provide Opportunities for Cooperation with United States

    Iran and U.S. relations have been strained but both countries want to see a stable Afghanistan free of Taliban control. In the event of a nuclear deal, Iran and the U.S. can work together to counter narcotics trafficking and resolve water disputes between the neighboring nations.

    Jun 19, 2014

  • Report

    Report

    Initial Thoughts on the Impact of the Iraq War on U.S. National Security Structures

    This paper surveys the overall impact of the Iraq War on U.S. national security structures by examining the major changes the war wrought in the intellectual and institutional underpinnings of U.S. security and defense policy.

    Jun 5, 2014

  • Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah attend an election campaign in Panjshir province March 31, 2014

    Commentary

    The Importance of the Election in Afghanistan

    It is easy to assume the outcome of the race doesn't really matter for U.S. policy. But an ossifying government excludes and disenfranchises youth with new ideas. Without popular participation, Afghanistan's future becomes more prone to partisan cleavages and extremism.

    Apr 7, 2014

  • News Release

    News Release

    Libya Needs More International Support

    The international community's limited approach to post-conflict stabilization of Libya has left the nation struggling and on the brink of civil war.

    Mar 17, 2014

  • Libyans protesting against the General National Congress in Benghazi February 28, 2014

    Report

    Libya After Qaddafi: Lessons and Implications for the Future

    This report assesses the challenges facing Libya since the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime and evaluates the impact of the limited international role in efforts to overcome them. It also sketches possible future roles for the international community.

    Mar 17, 2014

  • Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah hold posters of him during an election rally in Parwan province, northern Afghanistan, March 20, 2014

    Report

    Democracy in Afghanistan: The 2014 Election and Beyond

    Afghanistan's April 5th presidential election is the most important political event in the country's decade-long transition to democracy. A successful election would be a major blow to the Taliban and al Qaida, and would renew Afghan efforts to bring the war to a favorable conclusion. The international community should recognize that Afghanistan deserves support to get through the process.

    Mar 12, 2014

  • Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Zalmai Rassoul listen to his speech during the presidential campaign in Kabul March 5, 2014

    Commentary

    The Pernicious Effects of Uncertainty in Afghanistan

    While upcoming elections and sustained Taliban attacks are keeping many Afghans on edge, the greatest long-term threat to Afghanistan right now is the slow, insidious rot of uncertainty that is permeating nearly every facet of Afghan society.

    Mar 12, 2014

  • A soldier watches the sun rise after spending the night on a night observation post

    Commentary

    Afghanistan After the Drawdown

    It is relatively easy to criticize what's going wrong in Afghanistan. It is much harder to propose a realistic way forward. Seth Jones and Keith Crane in a new report, “Afghanistan After the Drawdown,” suggest a calibrated political and military approach that protects U.S. interests at a realistic level of manpower and investment.

    Dec 6, 2013

  • News Release

    News Release

    The End of the Iraq War Offers Lessons for Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Policymakers and military commanders should use the lessons derived from the final years of U.S. involvement in Iraq to inform critical decisions and timelines required to successfully end large-scale military operations, including the one in Afghanistan. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” template to follow.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • Iraqi Police and U.S. colonel attended the Iraqi Police River Patrol Graduation ceremonies on the banks of the Tigris River

    Report

    The End of the Iraq War Offers Lessons for Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Policymakers and military commanders should use the lessons derived from the final years of U.S. involvement in Iraq to inform critical decisions and timelines required to successfully end large-scale military operations, including the one in Afghanistan. However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” template to follow.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • U.S. military and Iraqi Army officers

    Research Brief

    Smooth Transitions? Lessons Learned from Transferring U.S. Military Responsibilities to Civilian Authorities in Iraq

    An examination of the transition of authority from military hands to civilians in the U.S. and Iraqi governments found lessons that could smooth the departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2014 and guide similar transitions in the future.

    Nov 5, 2013

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    Preparing for North Korean Regime Collapse

    In this October 2013 Congressional Briefing, defense analyst Bruce Bennett discusses the possible consequences of a North Korean government collapse, including civil war in the north; a humanitarian crisis; the potential use and proliferation of the nation's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons; and conflict with China.

    Oct 16, 2013

  • Children climb a fence in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 4, 2013

    Commentary

    Missing a Young Friend in a Changed Kabul

    Friends have gone home or on to other wars. Reports of crime are on the rise in a city once safe, save for the occasional bombing. Afghans still call their government a “mafia” but have stopped asking me what the United States is going to do to fix it, writes Rebecca Zimmerman.

    Oct 15, 2013

  • Secretary of State John Kerry hosts an Iftar for Palestinian and Israeli peace negotiators

    Blog

    Israel-Palestine Talks Offer New Prospects for Peace

    After a five-year delay, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed this week to resume direct peace talks. RAND researchers have worked with Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community since 2002 to develop a comprehensive nation-building plan.

    Aug 1, 2013