Nation Building: The World's Unfinished Business

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Because states are failing faster than we can prop them up, from Somalia to Iraq to Afghanistan, the need for nation building to be ultimately successful is more urgent than ever. But no nation, according to Mack Ott, can single-handedly construct another nation. Instead, the developing country's people must do the primary work, which entails a cooperative venture among several governments, the local population, and nongovernmental organizations. Therefore, it is essential for all parties involved to understand the process of nation building that is most likely to get results. Ott puts the work of nation building in historical context, tying developmental processes to the evolution of democratization, because political and economic progress is both integral to enduring nation-building efforts. To achieve these goals Nation Building is divided into two parts-origins and applications. The first part traces the Anglocentric (and Eurocentric) roots of the modern democratic nationstate and its liberal economy. As Ott notes, the two do not always go hand in hand. The second part examines applications of nation building in economic development assistance by presenting approaches to policy and reform issues. He discusses several necessary remedies, none of which is sufficient unto itself: rule of law, private property, separation of the executive from access to funds, and an independent central bank. Nation Building is a valuable guide for students of international affairs and economic development, and a useful tool for practitioners who need to know what really works.