Building Materials

By Marjorie Censer / November 12, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A new RAND Corp. study is calling for the next administration to approach nation-building with a willingness to hear multiple and opposing views, particularly urging the new president to bring together civilian and military agencies in the effort. The report -- "After the War: Nation-Building from FDR to George W. Bush" -- says post-conflict reconstruction must rely on the entire national security establishment.

“This is not a responsibility that presidents can afford to delegate, nor is it one that any single department of government can handle,” the document says.

Consequently, the report authors write that the Defense Department should work with the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency to discuss options and all involved “should be allowed significant latitude to disagree.”

“Once the president chooses or endorses a particular option, a fully integrated political-military plan should be generated,” the report continues.

An integrated planning effort would give civilian agencies the opportunity to comment on war plans and military agencies to provide diplomacy advice, and it should establish a division of labor.

Additionally, the RAND report suggests that the country look to rebalance civilian and military staff sizes and budgets, noting that the military's end strength and resources have far outweighed those of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State.

“Whatever approach to decision making presidents may adopt -- formal, competitive, collegial, or some combination thereof -- it is important that they foster debate among their principal advisers and value disciplined dissent as an essential aid to wise decision-making,” the report contends.