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A crowd of displaced people look on as members of the U.N. multinational police contingent provide security during a visit of UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi, Bentiu, South Sudan, June 18, 2017 (AP photo by Sam Mednick).

Can Nation Building Make a Comeback?

Monday, Aug. 14, 2017

There are few less fashionable phrases in international relations today than “nation building.” In the U.S. and Europe, politicians and generals are still struggling to put the ghosts of their interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq behind them. At the United Nations, international officials talk about promoting “resilience” or “sustaining peace” in volatile societies. Only a brave observer would make a full-fledged case for the need to build functional states, let alone “nations,” in the face of such widespread skepticism.

Michael von der Schulenburg is courageous enough to do that. The former U.N. official, who served in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Sierra Leone, has just published a book with the Clausewitzian title, “On Building Peace.” ...

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