Despite ample experience over the past decade, Western nations are still learning difficult lessons when it comes to attempts at nation-building and are still developing the skills needed to address this dauntingly complex task. On July 8, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) at Brookings hosted James Dobbins, one of the foremost practitioners in the field, for a discussion of a new RAND Corporation study, Europe’s Role in Nation Building: From the Balkans to the Congo (RAND, 2008).
In his new book, Dobbins and his team investigate Europe’s use of armed force as part of broader nation building efforts and examine its success at transforming societies as they move from conflict to peace and stability. Dobbins’ book builds on other RAND studies on nation building and evaluates Europe’s performance, comparing it to the records of the United States and the United Nations in other past nation building operations. The book concludes with policy recommendations that address the pitfalls and lessons learned from past operations.
James Dobbins is director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND, a post he assumed after a career as a U.S. diplomat. Ambassador Dobbins held senior White House positions under four presidents, serving most recently as the Bush administration’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan. CUSE Director and Brookings Senior Fellow Daniel Benjamin provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, Ambassador Dobbins took audience questions.