In This Review

The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building
The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building
By James Dobbins, Seth G. Jones, Keith Crane, and Beth Cole Deg
RAND Corporation, 2007, 328 pp

The United States and the United Nations have, with increasing frequency, embarked on military interventions and nation-building operations that have become larger, longer, and more ambitious. Dobbins and his associates at RAND have led the way in reflecting on these experiences in an effort to find lessons for the future. In this volume, they offer insights drawn from the review of 24 nation-building missions. Some of their findings take the shape of a list of guidelines for planning and deploying personnel and resources -- not least the realistic matching of goals to assets. They also emphasize the importance of using the correct "framework" in such operations -- that is, determining whether the intervention is aimed at peacekeeping, which is best done through the UN, or peace making, which is more costly and demanding and needs to be launched by the United States or NATO. Although these insights are not startling, implementing them is extremely difficult -- particularly because sustained and successful nation building requires intense cooperation among governments, international agencies, and domestic groups.