This slim volume, derived from lectures Fukuyama presented at Cornell in 2003, picks up one of the loose threads from his decade-old The End of History and the Last Man
. He asserts that the lack of "organizational tradition" in "failed or weak" nations such as Afghanistan and Haiti represents the greatest threat to an orderly world. He argues that the United States, and the West in general, after rightly intervening in such states either militarily or economically (most often through the IMF or World Bank), have failed to transfer institutional and public- and private-sector know-how to needy countries. The goal is to "create self-sustaining state institutions that can survive the withdrawal of outside intervention," though Fukuyama acknowledges that the developed world has failed, setting people up for "large disappointments." The author quickly surveys other recent theories-Sen, Kagan, Huntington-and concludes that the answer lies in providing states with internal organizational structure and, above all, with a culture that enables strong leaders and government institutions to enforce capitalist and free-market values. Since he sees the "international community" represented by the United Nations as a myth because it lacks a military, the mantle of leadership must be worn by the U.S., at great risk to itself. While Fukuyama's ideas will no doubt be much discussed, parts of this book are too technical to appeal to a broad readership.
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"Fukuyama is a wonderful synthesizer of grand subjects, an adventurer who doesn't mind summing up the history of development theory in one chapter and the history of organizational theory in the next. He pulls this off with minimal resort to jargon, and he pulls the reader along with him."—Washington Post Book World
"Fukuyama asserts that the lack of 'organizational tradition' in 'failed or weak' nations such as Afghanistan and Haiti represents the greatest threat to an orderly world. He argues that the United States, and the West in general, after rightly intervening in such states either militarily or economically (most often through the IMF or World Bank), have failed to transfer institutional and public- and private-sector know-how to needy countries. . . . Since he sees the 'international community' represented by the United Nations as a myth because it lacks a military, the mantle of leadership must be worn by the U.S., at great risk to itself. . . . Fukuyama's ideas will no doubt be much discussed."—Publishers Weekly
"Fukuyama persuasively argues that the great problems of our day—'from poverty to AIDS to drugs to terrorism'—result not from excesses of the state but from its persistent weakness or utter failure in many countries. . . .' State collapse or weakness had already created major humanitarian and human rights disasters during the 1990s in Somalia, Haiti, Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo, and East Timor.' Americans once could believe that such disasters would affect us only to the degree that we chose to help out by sending cash or peacekeepers. But 9/11, of course, showed that even a rich and powerful country remains vulnerable to catastrophes brewed in distant, troubled lands."—Baltimore Sun
"This is a very useful, intelligent, and short book by Francis Fukuyama, a leading political thinker. It examines a central issue in the age of terrorism: the perils (and sometimes necessities) of 'state-building' in weakened failed states. One hopes it will become a must-read for State Department policymakers."—National Review
"It's not often that the words 'visionary' and 'practical' can be applied to the same work. Here they're perfect descriptions. For an era where state building has come to the top of the global agenda, this book provides expert guidance about why it's important and how it might be catalyzed."—Robert Klitgaard, Dean and Ford Distinguished Professor of International Development and Security, The Pardee RAND Graduate School
"State-Building explores with brutal frankness the greatest challenge of our age: how to cope with failed or failing states. Francis Fukuyama's cross-cultural analysis takes the reader on an enlightened journey into the dilemmas of institution-building in weak polities. Fukuyama masterfully highlights the need for America to engage in the arts of state-building to avoid making things worse."—Chester Crocker, James R. Schlesinger Professor of Strategic Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
"This is a brilliant, sober, insightful look at a difficult issue which happens to be the central issue of our time. For the Bush administration and for its critics, and for leaders and policy-makers across the globe, Francis Fukuyama's analysis should be required reading."—Robert Kagan, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
"This book is truly superb. It is exciting to read and has a message of great importance: The current knowledge about the state and nation-building is lacking on several crucial points, some of which can be amended. In particular, it is crucial to draw a sharp line between the scope and the strength of a state. I predict that this book will turn out to be even more important than Francis Fukuyama's other writings."—Richard Swedberg, Cornell University
"Francis Fukuyama is a leading analyst of contemporary affairs who has made insightful and distinctive contributions to our understanding of the social and political complexities of today's world."—Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, and Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Harvard University