Jeremi Suri Jeremi Suri Jeremi Suri Jeremi Suri Jeremi Suri

The 5 "P"s of nation-building

from Liberty's Surest Guardian

My book suggests there are 5 “P”s of nation-building:

  • PARTNERS: Nation-building always requires partners; there must be communication between people on the ground and people in distant government offices.
  • PROCESS: Human societies do not follow formulas. Nation-building is a process which does not produce clear, quick results.
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING: Leadership must start small, addressing basic problems. Public trust during a period of occupation emerges from the fulfillment of basic needs.
  • PURPOSE: Small beginnings must serve higher purposes. Citizens must see the value in what they’re doing.
  • PEOPLE: Nation-building is about people. Large forces do not move history. People move history.


This chapter introduces the concept of nation-building as a PROCESS that is both historical and contemporary. 

Chapter 1:
This chapter examines the origins of a specific and enduring approach to nation-building that has guided American thinking and action for more than 200 years. Nation-building is a long-standing American vision, a common PURPOSE across centuries.

Chapter 2:
This chapter analyzes the nation-building efforts within the United States that followed in the aftermath of the Civil War and the defeat of the Confederacy. Nation-building was a project that brought many PEOPLE together for the first time, especially former slaves.

Chapter 3:
This chapter investigates American nation-building efforts in the Philippines following the defeat of the Spanish colonial empire. American efforts in the Philippines relied on PARTNERSHIPS with many local figures. 

Chapter 4:
This chapter focuses on the challenges of rebuilding Germany and other countries after the devastation of the Second World War. American efforts emphasized nation-building in Germany as a basis for PROBLEM-SOLVING.

Chapter 5:
This chapter analyzes the failures of American nation-building in Vietnam during the Cold War. Above all, American policies suffered from the absence of effective and legitimate PARTNERS.

Chapter 6
This chapter examines how Americans responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with new nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. Once again, nation-building is an essential part of American PROBLEM-SOLVING, especially in volatile regions of the world filled with failed states and potential threats to the United States. 

Conclusion and Future of Nation-building:
This chapter looks forward to the almost inevitable American nation-building projects of the next decade. The history of the last 200 years cannot assure success, but it can help improve American policies, especially if we follow the "5 P's."