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


    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


    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

  • Commentary

    A Three-Pronged Approach to Confront Afghanistan's Corruption

    President Karzai's Washington visit last month was basically a "be-nice-to-Karzai summit." After a period of harsh and direct U.S. criticism this past fall, the air is cleared, but issues remain—corruption in particular, write Cheryl Benard and Elvira Loredo.

    Jun 4, 2010

  • Report

    Counterinsurgency in Pakistan

    The rising number of terrorist plots in the United States with links to Pakistan—most recently the failed car-bombing in New York City—is partly a result of an unsuccessful strategy by Pakistan and the U.S. to weaken the range of militant groups operating in Pakistan.

    Jun 2, 2010

  • Report

    Building Security in the Persian Gulf

    The U.S. must determine how best to promote long-term security and stability in the Persian Gulf region while seeking to reduce the risks and costs imposed by its role as a permanent regional power—particularly vis-à-vis Iraq's future, the role of Iran, asymmetric threats, regional tensions, and the roles of other external actors.

    May 18, 2010

  • Report

    EU Civilian Crisis Management: The Record So Far

    For a decade, the European Union has been developing civilian capabilities for international reconstruction efforts in fragile and war-torn states. As the U.S. builds up its own civilian capabilities, it will be important to understand the EU's valuable civilian contributions and why it is not living up to its potential.

    Apr 5, 2010

  • Report

    Pakistan: Can the United States Secure an Insecure State?

    The ability of the United States to forge a broad yet effective relationship with Pakistan depends on likely developments in its internal and external security environment over the coming decade as well as Pakistan's national will and capacity to solve its problems.

    Apr 5, 2010

  • Commentary

    A Month After the Earthquake: Opportunities Slipping Away

    Previous efforts by the international community to stabilize Haiti have met with little or only short-term success. This time, following the earthquake, the U.S. response could actually leverage the response and recovery opportunities into a broader international plan, write Agnes Gereben Schaefer and Anita Chandra.

    Feb 24, 2010

  • Report

    The Iraq Effect: The Middle East After the Iraq War

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ensuing conflict in that country fostered the rise of Iranian power in the region, but with more limitations than is commonly acknowledged. It also diminished local confidence in U.S. credibility and created opportunities for China and Russia.

    Feb 22, 2010

  • Testimony

    Stabilization from the Bottom Up

    Testimony presented before the Commission on Wartime Contracting on February 22, 2010.

    Feb 3, 2010

  • Testimony

    Reconstructing Haiti

    In testimony presented before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, James Dobbins discusses the current international disaster relief operation in Haiti and how it is affected by a preexisting post-conflict reconstruction mission, which he considers ultimately more important.

    Jan 26, 2010

  • Commentary

    Skip the Graft

    The latest disaster to befall Haiti creates the opportunity to combine bipartisan accord on Haiti in Washington with keen and perhaps sustained American public interest, writes James Dobbins.

    Jan 17, 2010

  • Commentary

    Afghanistan: A Marathon, Not a Prize Fight

    President Obama's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan reflects a nation deeply divided on the war. There are compelling arguments on both sides, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Dec 1, 2009

  • Commentary

    A False Promise of 'Counterinsurgency'

    If the additional troops President Obama has ordered sent to Afghanistan are intended to pursue a "population-centric counterinsurgency" campaign, as described in news reports about General McChrystal's thinking, then this decision is regrettable, writes Celeste Ward Gventer.

    Dec 1, 2009

  • Commentary

    When Generals and Ambassadors Feud

    In 2007 in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker set a model for civil-military collaboration: They never let daylight show between their positions. In providing differing advice to Washington over troop levels in Afghanistan, General McChrystal and Ambassador Eikenberry have diverged from this model, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 13, 2009

  • Commentary

    Our Man in Kabul

    Now that Karzai has been declared the election's winner, the breach with Abdullah—the man most responsible for his original rise to power—could have very dangerous consequences. The last thing Karzai, NATO, and the United States can afford is the emergence of a renewed northern alliance, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 4, 2009

  • Commentary

    Karzai's Second Term a Test for International Community

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai begins his second term with his country on the brink of chaos. To establish control, two major elements of reform are necessary, writes Terrence Kelly.

    Nov 2, 2009

  • Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel,Abdel Fatah Saeed Al Sisy,Egypt


    The Day After... in Jerusalem: A Strategic Planning Exercise on the Path to Middle East Peace

    Starting in 2008, the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy conducted a series of exercises to help the new U.S. administration address the challenges of the Arab-Israeli conflict (and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular) as a key component of the broader effort to secure stability in the Middle East.

    Oct 30, 2009

  • Commentary

    China: Self-Perception vs. Outside Perception

    China's challenge in defining the security role it will play in the region and the world in the coming years is to harmonize its own view of its security intentions with that of the outside world, writes Michael Lostumbo.

    Oct 2, 2009

  • Commentary

    G-20 Growing Pains

    The increasing importance of the G-20 summits is testimony to the growing role emerging states now play in managing the international economy. But integrating these newcomers into the global community is unlikely to be straightforward or simple, writes Lowell H. Schwartz.

    Sep 24, 2009

  • Commentary

    How Russia Can and Can't Help Obama

    In hindsight, KGB analysts and Soviet officials were extraordinarily prescient about the perils of Islamist terrorism and the fallout from the Afghan jihad. But could Russia, for all its faults and foibles, be a more valuable counterterrorism partner today, asks Brian Michael Jenkins.

    Aug 26, 2009

  • Commentary

    Going Local: The Key to Afghanistan

    The rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is now President Barack Obama's war, one he pledged to win during his election campaign. One of the biggest problems, however, is that since late 2001, the United States has crafted its Afghanistan strategy on a fatally flawed assumption, writes Seth Jones.

    Aug 8, 2009