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

    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.

    Feb 25, 2021

  • 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

    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.

    Apr 18, 2022

Explore Nation Building

  • 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

  • Journal Article

    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

    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

  • a U.S. Army Soldier and Afghan National Policemen

    Commentary

    Difficult Questions on Afghanistan and Pakistan

    In Afghanistan, the U.S. military has been fighting the longest war in the nation's history—and many Americans don't understand why. The final presidential debate on Monday affords President Obama and Governor Romney an excellent opportunity to provide answers, writes Jonah Blank.

    Oct 17, 2012

  • Taliban insurgents turning themselves in to Afghan National Security Forces

    Commentary

    Bringing the Taliban to the Table: Long-Term Prospects for the Afghan Peace Talks

    The Afghan government and the Taliban have signaled that the United States would be the most suitable third-party interlocutor and most effective at holding the parties to their word in any agreement. Yet the U.S. must accept that the timeline must be organically determined by the Afghans and not manufactured to meet a predetermined schedule, writes Jason Campbell.

    Oct 11, 2012

  • a car exploding

    Commentary

    Libya's Downward Spiral

    Libya is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan, let alone Somalia. It has much going for it that these post-conflict cases did not, including relatively unified citizens, wealth, a neighborhood comparatively conducive to stability, and a clear victory over the former regime, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Sep 14, 2012

  • Afghan girls talking with a U.S. soldier

    Commentary

    The Death of a 'Butterfly' in Kabul

    Like the rest of Afghanistan, these children are so easy to love, but for some so hard. And, like the rest of Afghanistan, they are largely as we have made them, through a combination of kicking and kindness that has bred dependence and resentment, without leaving much of substance, writes Rebecca Zimmerman.

    Sep 13, 2012

  • Women voting at the 2012 Libyan elections

    Commentary

    A Year After the Fall of Tripoli, Libya Still Fragile

    The countries that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi a year ago have a special obligation to ensure the new Libyan government gets all the help it needs to respond to these new threats effectively, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Aug 23, 2012

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds an RPG launcher during clashes with the Syrian Army in central Aleppo, August 5, 2012

    Commentary

    The Right Way to Help Syria's Rebels

    The Obama administration has led international efforts to isolate and sanction those most responsible for the regime's violence, and those efforts—along with diplomacy to bring Russia and China along—should be strengthened, write Dalia Dassa Kaye and David Kaye.

    Aug 9, 2012