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Discussion: “Is Nation-Building Ever successful: Lessons from Afghanistan, Colombia, the Balkans and Elsewhere” with Keith Mines (United States Institute of Peace) (virtual)

September 16, 2021 | 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Join Ambassador Patrick Duddy in a zoom conversation with Keith Mines, Director, Latin America Program, as they discuss Mines’ new book, ‘Why Nation-Building Matters’. Register in advance.

No one likes nation-building. The public dismisses it. Politicians criticize it. The traditional military disdains it, and civilian agencies lack the blueprint necessary to make it work. Yet functioning states play a foundational role in international security and stability. Left unattended, ungoverned spaces can produce crises from migration to economic collapse to terrorism.

Keith W. Mines has taken part in nation-building efforts as a Special Forces officer, diplomat, occupation administrator, and United Nations official. In Why Nation-Building Matters he uses cases from his own career to argue that repairing failed states is a high-yield investment in our own nation’s global future. Eyewitness accounts of eight projects––in Colombia, Grenada, El Salvador, Somalia, Haiti, Darfur, Afghanistan, and Iraq—inform Mines’ in-depth analysis of how foreign interventions succeed and fail. Building on that analysis, he establishes a framework for nation-building in the core areas of building security forces, economic development, and political consolidation that blend soft and hard power into an effective package. Grounded in real-world experience, Why Nation-Building Matters is an informed and essential guide to meeting one of the foremost challenges of our foreign policy present and future.

Keith W. Mines is an active-duty U.S. Foreign Service officer, most recently serving as the director of Andean affairs at the Department of State in Washington, DC. He has published numerous articles in the Foreign Service Journal, Parameters, Orbis, the Baltimore Sun, the Denver Post, and with the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact: Rohini Thakkar ( by September 8, 2021.


Sponsored by the Duke Center for International and Global Studies, Duke Sanford Center for International Development, Duke Program in American Grand Strategy, and the Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.


Duke University


September 16, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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