Americans for decades have had a love-hate relationship with nation-building - a convenient target during political campaigns, reinforced by the traditional military's disdain for splitting its time and talent between fighting and building. Efforts to pass the task on to civilian agencies have been unfruitful, and no doctrine has been developed to guide it. Still, it is difficult to avoid the simple logic that functional and capable states with whom to partner are a core requirement for containing threats; and the world's ungoverned spaces bring a raft of issues from health to migration, economic collapse to terrorism. Strengthening the Westphalian world of functional states, or the principle in international law that each nation-state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory, is arguably the biggest challenge but also one of the highest-yielding enterprises America could embark on to improve its global future.
This book covers a series of recent illustrative cases - Colombia, Grenada, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, Darfur, Afghanistan, and Iraq - in which Keith Mines participated as a Special Forces officer, diplomat, occupation administrator, and United Nations official. The core premise is that we have a better record of accomplishment with nation-building than we allow, but that we could do far better. It proposes a doctrine and architecture in the core areas of building security forces, economic development, and political consolidation that blends soft and hard power into a deployable and effective package. Finally, the book tells a good story - about a wide range of Americans who gave their all to serve their country in difficult circumstances and developed creative solutions to intractable problems. It is above all a book about how to make our country safer in a world of increasingly complex threats.