Nation-Building

Featured

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

    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

  • Journal Article

    A Bibliographic Essay on the Allied Occupation and Reconstruction of West Germany, 1945-1955

    We can now synthesize primary sources and specialized scholarship to tell the story, for the first time, of how the Allies occupied and rebuilt the western part of Germany.

    Jan 1, 2013

  • On Dec. 4, 2012, Egyptians marched to the federal palace to reject the constitution referendum

    Commentary

    Egypt's Constitutional Referendum Was an Opportunity Lost

    The Egyptian process left no room for broad deliberation of the constitutional issues, or even for educating citizens about the text of the document on which they were asked to vote, writes Laurel Miller.

    Dec 21, 2012

  • Egyptians protest against the draft constitution and the constitutional decree announced by President Mohamed Morsi

    Commentary

    Political Impasse in Egypt

    If there ever was a honeymoon in Egypt's post-Mubarak politics, it is long over. The two main ideological camps—Islamists and secular-liberals—have shown a willingness to cooperate only when brought together by a common foe, writes Jeffrey Martini.

    Dec 13, 2012

  • Farmer in Kirkuk, Iraq voices his concerns to a U.S. Army soldier

    Commentary

    U.S. Role in Kirkuk Could Promote Peace, Prevent Conflict in Northern Iraq

    No matter which presidential candidate occupies the White House in January, he should make a concerted effort to address Iraq's most combustible hotspot: the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, writes Larry Hanauer.

    Nov 5, 2012

  • Report

    Libya's Post-Qaddafi Transition: The Nation-Building Challenge

    Despite its role in helping topple Qaddafi, NATO is absent from Libya today. A year after Qaddafi's death, the light-footprint approach adopted for Libya's postwar transition is facing its most serious test.

    Oct 29, 2012

  • Libyans in Zawiya celebrating one-year anniversary of anti-Qadhafi uprising

    Commentary

    The Challenges of Libya's Post-Qadhafi Transition

    Libya should remain in charge of its own post-conflict path, but it needs the help of external actors to succeed with its transition, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Oct 26, 2012

  • Rebels traveling in the back of a pickup truck in a town in northern Syria

    Commentary

    Don't Blame Unrest on Arab Spring

    The roots of the unrest are not in the desire to cast off authoritarian regimes that took expression in Arab Spring protests. The roots came before the uprisings, and progress will take longer than we wish, writes Laurel Miller.

    Oct 22, 2012

  • Police training in northern Afghanistan

    Commentary

    What the Soviets Can Teach Us About Leaving Afghanistan

    Afghanistan will fail if it does not have a central government with enough strength, support, and willpower to maintain control of the bulk of its forces, writes Olga Oliker.

    Oct 18, 2012