Rethinking Civilian Stabilization and Reconstruction

Can the United States prevent or end conflicts and protect its interests without using military force? Do U.S. civilian institutions have the right mix of support, funding, and capabilities to respond to major crises and political transitions? In July 2013, CSIS raised these questions before more than 200 policymakers and experts, with 22 speakers offering perspectives from donors, implementers, and recipients.

The demand for civilian power is high. U.S. leaders are under constant pressure to respond to armed conflicts abroad. Better civilian tools could help avoid more risky (and costly) military engagements. The past decade has seen real improvement in civilian stabilization and reconstruction capabilities. Yet many lessons of the past eight decades remain unlearned, and public support to civilian agencies remains low. Participants in the Rethinking Civilian Stabilization and Reconstruction conference offered some new thinking about how to respond to these challenges.

Robert D. Lamb and Joy Aoun

Kathryn Mixon