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

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

  • Report

    Coalition Forces During Stability Operations: Band of Brothers or Dysfunctional Family?

    As challenging as coalition warfare is during conventional conflicts, the difficulties are compounded in number and character when the contingency is instead a stability operation. The absence of a threat that puts survival interests at risk translates into weaker commitment and more-restrictive caveats on how a participant's capabilities are employed.

    Nov 21, 2011

  • Dissertation

    Developing Stability: Community-Driven Development and Reconstruction in Conflict-Affected Settings

    Tests the hypothesis that development and reconstruction actors can feasibly implement sound development and reconstruction across a relatively wide spectrum of conflict, but varying levels and natures of violence can affect its delivery.

    Nov 4, 2011

  • People celebrate the death of Muammar Gaddafi at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya, October 20, 2011, photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters

    Commentary

    An Open Door in Libya

    The days and weeks after a victory like this are a golden hour that set in motion either a virtuous cycle of increasing security and economic growth, or a downward spiral into insecurity, factionalism and economic chaos, write Christopher S. Chivvis and Frederic Wehrey.

    Oct 20, 2011

  • Report

    The Challenges of International Intervention in the Wake of Conflict

    Governments intervening in post-conflict states face challenges and dilemmas regarding stabilization and reconstruction, where measures that may improve conditions in one respect may undermine them in another. A review of relevant literature seeks to inform strategic planning at the whole-of-government level.

    Oct 10, 2011

  • U.S. soldiers and Afghan police officers talk with Afghan citizens at Checkpoint 64 near Loy Karez in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, November 2, 2011, photo by Spc. Louis Kernisan/U.S. Army

    Commentary

    Security from the Bottom Up

    If the Afghan government is to have a chance of defeating the Taliban, its national-security forces must successfully leverage the country's many competing factions, village by village, writes Seth G. Jones.

    Oct 7, 2011

  • The sun rises above the mountain ridges of Kunar province overlooking the bunkers of soldiers from the Afghan army at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Ghaziabad district in eastern Afghanistan, September 24, 2011, photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Overestimate Afghanistan Pessimism

    Multiple polls commissioned by independent news and other organizations consistently reveal an Afghan population that sees improvement in its well-being, has a favorable view of its government and is optimistic about its future, writes James Dobbins.

    Sep 29, 2011

  • Report

    Security Force Assistance in Afghanistan

    Security force assistance (SFA) is a central pillar of the counterinsurgency campaign being waged by U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. An analysis of SFA efforts documents U.S. and international approaches to building the Afghan National Security Forces from 2001 to 2009 and provides recommendations and their implications for the U.S Army.

    Sep 7, 2011

  • Egyptian army vehicles are parked near the Israeli embassy as protesters shout slogans against Israel in Cairo, August 21, 2011, photo by Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

    Commentary

    Commanding Democracy in Egypt: The Military's Attempt to Manage the Future

    The SCAF's attempts to curtail dissent and the democratic process have fueled doubts about its true intentions. Will the military fulfill its promise to support democracy? Or will it seek to replace Mubarak's rule with its own or that of a friendly autocrat? write Jeffrey Martini and Julie Taylor.

    Aug 25, 2011