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

  • 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

  • Report

    Report

    Building Partner Health Capacity with U.S. Military Forces: Enhancing AFSOC Health Engagement Missions

    Planning for, assessing, and enhancing the effectiveness of missions to build health capacity in partner nations -- how U.S. military forces can assist in this important effort.

    Aug 8, 2012

  • Iraqi police officers and U.S. Army soldiers move reinforcement supplies

    Commentary

    Auditing U.S. Security Force and Economic Assistance Spending in Iraq

    A new audit of Iraq reconstruction spending underlines the fact that effective help for a nation in conflict, or a conflict winding down, isn't merely a question of resources. It also requires a deployable infrastructure to manage the spending, writes Charles Ries.

    Jul 19, 2012

  • Report

    Report

    Resolving Kirkuk: Lessons Learned from Settlements of Earlier Ethno-Territorial Conflicts

    Past efforts to resolve ethno-territorial conflicts in Brčko, Mostar, Northern Ireland, and Jerusalem provide insights that could facilitate a negotiated settlement of the status of the disputed Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

    May 9, 2012

  • Members of the Libyan military force under the ruling of the National Transitional Council wave their national flag as they parade along a main street in Tripoli February 14, 2012

    Commentary

    Bringing Libya Under Control

    While NATO countries and allies like Jordan and Qatar have started to train and equip the security forces, there is more that outsiders can do to help, writes Frederic Wehrey.

    Feb 25, 2012

  • A protester shouts during a demonstration outside the parliamentary building in Tunis, Tunisia, November 22, 2011, photo by Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Year of the Arab Spring

    The Arab Spring demonstrated that leaderless revolutions are difficult to repress or co-opt. Unfortunately, it is also true that leaderless revolts find it difficult to make transition to authority, writes Charles Ries.

    Dec 20, 2011

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    The Case for Nation-Building: Why and How to Fix Failed States

    As U.S. policymakers review budget and force structure in coming years, they should recognize that nation-building is a pragmatic option that can meet the needs of the hour, and it can do so successfully and cost-effectively.

    Dec 1, 2011