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.

  • An Iraqi flag is seen amid destroyed buildings in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 23, 2017


    How to Achieve Stability in Iraq After ISIS

    Jul 24, 2017

    After major combat operations against ISIS in Mosul, recovery and stability will require redoubled efforts by Iraqis and the international community. How well humanitarian, security, and other needs are addressed will affect the immediate stabilization of Iraq, including whether civilians can return home.

  • A section of the Israeli barrier cuts beneath the West Bank refugee camp of Shuafat, October 31, 2014


    A Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Provides the Best Economic Outcomes

    Jun 8, 2015

    The Israeli economy stands to gain more than $120 billion over the next decade in a two-state solution, a possible resolution of the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians would gain $50 billion, with average per-capita income rising by about 36 percent.

Explore Nation Building

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

  • Commentary

    Ultimate Exit Strategy

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the upcoming high-level conference on Afghanistan at The Hague as a "big-tent meeting, with all the parties who have a stake and an interest in Afghanistan." With the situation in that country growing more precarious by the day, those attending this meeting must also think big, write Karl F. Inderfurth and James Dobbins.

    Mar 26, 2009

  • Report

    Justification and Options for Creating A U.S. Stability Police Force

    Establishing security is the sine qua non of stability operations, since it is a prerequisite for reconstruction and development. Security requires a mix of military and police forces to deal with a range of threats from insurgents to criminal organizations. This research examines the creation of a high-end police force, which the authors call a Stability Police Force.

    Mar 25, 2009

  • Testimony

    Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

    In testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs former Ambassador to Afghanistan James Dobbins outlines the steps the Obama administration should take to secure the nation as the situation there worsens.

    Mar 24, 2009

  • Report

    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.

    Mar 18, 2009

  • Commentary

    Afghanistan: The Regional Solution

    The Obama Administration's decision to commit another 17,000 troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to have an important effect unless it is part of a broader shift in U.S. and coalition strategy, write F. Stephen Larrabee and Julian Lindley-French.

    Mar 4, 2009

  • Report

    Implications for U.S. of the Saudi-Iranian Struggle for Influence in the Middle East

    Saudi Arabia and Iran have long been rivals in the Middle East, but the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the ongoing war in Iraq have increased tensions between the two states. This study analyzes the Saudi-Iranian struggle for influence in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Lebanon and Palestine and its implications for U.S. interests.

    Mar 3, 2009

  • Commentary

    In Afghanistan, It's Deadly at the Top

    Rather than perpetuating a love-hate-kill relationship with their leaders, Afghans need to develop respect for the laws and institutions of their new democracy, writes Cheryl Benard.

    Feb 23, 2009

  • Testimony

    Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

    In testimony presented before the Senate Armed Services Committee, James Dobbins suggests steps the new Administration and its allies should consider in reviewing Afghan policy.

    Feb 23, 2009

  • Report

    While China's Regional Influence Grows, U.S. Remains Key Security and Economic Partner in East Asia

    China is not eroding the foundations of U.S. alliances in East Asia and the United States remains the security partner of choice in the region. But consistent U.S. efforts are needed to ensure that the nation retains its influence.

    Oct 23, 2008

  • Report

    Changes Needed in Way the United States Conducts Military Interventions

    In preparing for possible future military interventions, the United States needs to shift substantial resources to the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, and military-civilian efforts must be integrated from top to bottom.

    Sep 9, 2008