Building the Nation


Building the Nation

Missed Opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan

Heather Selma Gregg

296 pages
7 tables, index


December 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

December 2018


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Building the Nation draws from foreign-policy reports and interviews with U.S. military officers to investigate recent U.S.-led efforts to “nation-build” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Heather Selma Gregg argues that efforts to nation-build in both countries focused more on what should be called state-building, or how to establish a government, rule of law, security forces, and a viable economy. Considerably less attention was paid to what might truly be called nation-building—the process of developing a sense of shared identity, purpose, and destiny among a population within a state’s borders and popular support for the state and its government.

According to Gregg, efforts to stabilize states in the modern world require two key factors largely overlooked in Iraq and Afghanistan: popular involvement in the process of rebuilding the state that gives the population ownership of the process and its results and efforts to foster and strengthen national unity. Gregg offers a hypothetical look at how the United States and its allies could have used a population-centric approach to build viable states in Iraq and Afghanistan, focusing on initiatives that would have given the population buy-in and agency. Moving forward, Gregg proposes a six-step program for state and nation-building in the twenty-first century, stressing that these efforts are as much about how state-building is done as they are about specific goals or programs.

Author Bio

Heather Selma Gregg is an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Department of Defense Analysis. She is the author of The Path to Salvation: Religious Violence from the Crusades to Jihad (Potomac Books, 2014) and coeditor of The Three Circles of War: Understanding the Dynamics of Modern War in Iraq (Potomac Books, 2010). She has spent time in several regions of conflict, including Palestine/the West Bank, Croatia, and Bosnia.


"Building the Nation is one of the most comprehensive books you will read about the United State’s efforts to nation-build in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a detailed look at the way forward as we wind down our presence there."—Jason Schott,

“Fresh and exciting. In a time when the United States increasingly recognizes how inadequate simple theories of state stabilization and state-building are, Heather Gregg offers a powerful new model for what to do after the shooting has stopped. . . . Dr. Gregg lays out in very concrete ways how such an approach would transform current strategies for post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction. We who live and work in the center of the storm can only hope that her book gets studied carefully by the next generation of policy makers.”—Scott Guggenheim, senior adviser, Office of the President, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

“A robust examination and defense of nation-building and its more nuanced form—national unity building. Had this dimension been appropriately addressed, we would likely not have seen the emergence of Daesh, the collapse of the Iraqi state, and the perils of the new Afghan government.”—Clare Lockhart, director and co-founder of the Institute for State Effectiveness and senior fellow at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs

“A highly informed and sophisticated analysis of what it take to engage in state-building and in nation-building. If it can be done at all, this book shows the ways.”—Amitai Etzioni, author of Security First and From Empire to Community

Table of Contents

List of Tables    
1. Bringing the Nation Back into Nation-Building    
2. States, Nations, Nationalism, and National Unity    
3. State-Building and Nation-Building in Europe and the United States    
4. State-Building Programs post 9/11    
5. State-Building in Iraq, 2003–2011    
6. Counterfactual State-Building and Nation-Building in Iraq    
7. State-Building in Afghanistan, 2001–2015    
8. Counterfactual State-Building and Nation-Building in Afghanistan    
9. A Program for Population-Centric State-Building and Nation-Building    

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