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

  • Commentary

    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

    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

    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

    Report

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

  • Report

    Report

    Corporations and Counterinsurgency

    Large multinational corporations (MNCs) can play significant roles in zones of violent conflict, including in counterinsurgency. While the activities of MNCs aimed at shaping their violent environments may only be intended to protect their infrastructure and personnel, they can have less-than-benign consequences.

    Aug 3, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Timeline to Withdraw U.S. Troops from Iraq Is Feasible, but Combat Forces Are Needed for Elections

    The U.S. military can meet President Obama's timeline - one of three alternatives that are compared - for the drawdown of troops from Iraq, but sufficient combat force must remain to ensure a peaceful January 2010 election. Slower drawdowns are recommended for the regions most at risk of post-withdrawal conflict.

    Jul 21, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    World Economic Recession Unlikely to Have Lasting Geopolitical Consequences

    Will the current global economic recession have long-term geopolitical implications? Assuming that economic recovery begins in the first half of 2010, lasting structural alterations in the international system — a substantial change in U.S.-China relations, for example — are unlikely. This is because economic performance is only one of many geopolitical elements that shape countries' strategic intent and core external policies.

    Jul 21, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Russia and the Perils of Personal Diplomacy

    As President Obama takes part in his first U.S.-Russian summit, a good deal of media attention has focused on whether he will be able to establish good personal relations with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, though the preoccupation with personal relations has rarely proved successful, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.

    Jul 6, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Iran's Real Winners: The Revolutionary Guards

    Despite the huge protests on the streets of Tehran, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has once again triumphed. A relative newcomer to Iranian politics, his re-election and subsequent crackdown on the demonstrators suggest that the Iranian political system is moving in a new and potentially dangerous direction, writes Alireza Nader.

    Jun 22, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Reconstruction Under Fire: Unifying Civil and Military Counterinsurgency

    Effective civilian reconstruction work can help convince people to support their government against insurgency, Therefore, insurgents typically target such work, thereby threatening the civilian population. This too often results in a postponement of reconstruction efforts and/or excessive reliance on force to defeat insurgents.

    May 28, 2009

  • News Release

    News Release

    Records from Coalition Provisional Authority Shed Light on Occupation of Iraq

    The record of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein compares favorably to that of many other U.S. efforts at post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the areas of economic and public reforms. However, these achievements were undermined and overshadowed by the U.S. failure to protect the Iraqi population from the criminals and extremists among them who pulled Iraq into civil war.

    May 12, 2009

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    NATO After the Summit: Rebuilding Consensus

    In testimony presented before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on European Affairs, Robert E. Hunter sets forth the need for a revised transatlantic compact with engagement beyond Europe's borders, efforts to reinvigorate the NATO-Russia Council, and the development of non-military activities.

    May 6, 2009

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    European Union at Cross Purposes in Kosovo

    Of all the international actors involved in Kosovo right now, the European Union has by far the most at stake. It is also in the strongest position to remedy the situation. Sadly, it is too divided over Kosovo's declaration of independence over a year ago to take effective action, writes Christopher Chivvis.

    Apr 27, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Occupying Iraq: A History of the Coalition Provisional Authority and How It Failed to Secure Iraq

    The American engagement in Iraq has been looked at from many perspectives, from planning to invasion and the long ensuing occupation. The activities of the Coalition Provisional Authority and its administrator, L. Paul Bremer, are recounted in this study through interviews with policymakers, former officials' memoirs, journalists' accounts, and the nearly 100,000 never-before-released CPA documents.

    Apr 20, 2009

  • Report

    Report

    Dangerous But Not Omnipotent: Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East

    Iran's rise as a regional power presents a key foreign policy and security challenge to the United States, but its reach may be more limited than Western conventional wisdom suggests. U.S. strategy should work to exploit existing barriers to Iran's harmful activities, while simultaneously seeking areas of engagement.

    Apr 14, 2009

  • News Release

    News Release

    Ways to Improve U.S. Stability and Reconstruction Missions Are Outlined

    Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work.

    Apr 3, 2009