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.

  • U.S. Army Soldiers provide security during a mission in Yarmouk, Iraq, July 2007

    Report

    Armies Have a Role to Play in Nation Building

    Oct 24, 2017

    Events in Iraq and Mali have raised questions about the value of Security Force Assistance and U.S. capacity to strengthen client states' militaries in the face of insurgencies or other threats. History shows that SFA programs could be improved if they focused more on ideology and how an army complements a host country's larger nation-building efforts.

  • Syrian refugees cross into Jordanian territory, near the town of Ruwaished, 149 miles east of Amman, December 5, 2013, photo by Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

    Report

    Stabilizing Eastern Syria After ISIS

    Sep 8, 2020

    Eastern Syrian communities are no longer occupied by ISIS but they are in a fraught political environment where the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government have both expanded their presence and some ISIS fighters remain. What are the region's most urgent needs and is there a viable strategy to build near-term stability?

Explore Nation Building

  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • A ballistic missile target is launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on October 3, 2013

    Solution

    Managing Escalation in Crisis and War

    The risks of military escalation are more diverse today than during the Cold War. What steps can policymakers take to help prevent escalation in military confrontations and wars?

    Jul 20, 2013

  • map of Syria on open hands

    Commentary

    Saved by the Diaspora

    If Alawites and Sunnis living abroad can stand united against the Assad regime, so can their counterparts inside Syria. By setting an example of coexistence, they can mitigate the fears of Alawites in Syria that deserting Assad would facilitate the rise of an anti-Alawite Sunni regime.

    May 24, 2013

  • Repairs to the golden domes of Kadhimayn Mosque in 2008

    Commentary

    Iraq Isn't as Fragile as It Looks

    Ten years after the Iraq war started, violence may persist, but the new order survives without U.S. assistance. And it is a lot less fragile than it often appears, says Lowell Schwartz.

    Mar 19, 2013

  • Cambodian garment factory workers travel home from work in Kampong Chhnang province, north of Phnom Penh

    Report

    The Benefits of Nation-Building Interventions Have Exceeded the Costs

    Most interventions in the past 25 years have been followed by improved security, some degree of democratization, and significant economic growth—with only a modest commitment of international military and civilian manpower and economic assistance.

    Feb 4, 2013

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Overcoming Obstacles to Peace

    The memory of a few spectacular failures has created the impression that nation-building seldom succeeds. Yet most such operations over the past 20 years have produced positive results.

    Feb 1, 2013