Bottom-Up Nation Building

Policy Review, No. 158 (December 2009 & January 2010)

Posted: 14 Mar 2016

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: December 11, 2009


Nation building is much more difficult than is often assumed. In particular, if one tries to engineer, top down changes in the societal formations. In Iraq and even more so in Afghanistan, the commitments to various "tribal" groups (ethnics and confessional) are much stronger than to the nation. Hence trying to run many missions from the central government, is bound to fail. High evaluation was called for. Similarly, in these societies elected officials do not command as much legitimacy as natural leaders, such as religious authorities and tribal chiefs.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Bottom-Up Nation Building (December 11, 2009). Policy Review, No. 158 (December 2009 & January 2010). Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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