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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

  • Report

    Report

    Political Reform in the Arab World is a Mixed Bag in Confronting Terrorism

    Democratic political reforms can marginalize extremists and undermine support for political violence, but cosmetic reforms and backtracking on democratization can exacerbate the risk of terrorism.

    Sep 9, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    Smooth Presidential Transition Is Crucial To Early Foreign Policy and National Security Success

    The foreign policy success of incoming presidents, particularly in the early years of a presidency, is largely determined by how well the new administration learns from the successes and failures of the outgoing president.

    Sep 8, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    Book by RAND's James Dobbins Gives an Insider's Account of What Happened in Afghanistan 'After the Taliban'

    Former Ambassador James F. Dobbins has written the first “insider's account” of the Bush administration's post-9/11 diplomatic efforts in Afghanistan after the Taliban had been toppled.

    Aug 21, 2008

  • Commercial Book

    Commercial Book

    After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan

    As the Bush administration's first special envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador Dobbins helped the Afghans assemble a successor government to the Taliban. His memoir explains why the United States has failed to stabilize either Afghanistan or Iraq.

    Aug 3, 2008

  • Report

    Report

    DoD Should Consider Nonmilitary Means to Advance U.S. National Security Interests

    The nature of recent challenges and the types of missions the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has undertaken highlight the need for training DoD personnel in the simultaneous use of different types of tools, military and otherwise.

    Aug 1, 2008

  • Report

    Report

    A President's Early Foreign Policy, National Security Success Depends on Transition

    The foreign policy success of incoming presidents, particularly in the early years of a presidency, is largely determined by how well the new administration learns from the successes and failures of the outgoing president.

    Jul 29, 2008

  • Testimony

    Testimony

    Testimony on America's Need of a New Grand Strategy, Shift in National Security Policy

    The unanticipated costs and unpredictable outcomes of the War on Terror necessitate a reevaluation of national security strategy, including a shift away from policies of preemption and democratization and towards nation-building with its consequent need for a rebalancing of political and military power.

    Jul 15, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    European Union Has Developed a Nascent, but Growing Capacity to Deploy and Employ Armed Force

    Over the past few years, the European Union has demonstrated the capacity to deploy and employ armed force outside its borders in support of broader common policy objectives, creating a new player in nation-building operations.

    Jul 8, 2008

  • Report

    Report

    Dangerous Thresholds: Managing Escalation in the 21st Century

    Historical examples and the analysis of two modified Delphi exercises augment an examination of approaches to escalation management within the demands of today’s security environment and its attendant threats involving not only long-standing nuclear powers, but also insurgent groups and terrorists.

    Jul 8, 2008

  • News Release

    News Release

    Shortcomings in Planning for Post-Combat Period in Iraq Outlined

    Efforts to adequately plan for the post-combat period in Iraq were thwarted by overly optimistic views held by top civilian leaders and a belief among military leaders that civilian authorities would be responsible for postwar operations.

    Jun 30, 2008