Over the decades, the concept of “nation-building” has been in and out of favor with successive American administrations. President Donald Trump says he wants no part of it in Afghanistan.
But past presidents have found that when it comes to foreign interventions, it’s very difficult to achieve and sustain military gains in the absence of a stable, functioning government and the institutions that go along with it. That’s one of the main arguments in favor of nation-building — or state-building, as some, including President George W.’s Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose to call it.
Here’s a look at where broad assistance has worked and where it hasn’t, and some of the lessons about why.