This introductory chapter explains how understanding armed state building is important for both scholarship and policymaking. Armed state building is an attempt to spread norms about what states are, what they should be, and how states govern—it is the attempt to urge weak states to abide by the norms of statehood. There are various types of state failure and, therefore, different strategies of state building. The chapter suggests five types of state failure: anarchic, illegitimate, incapable, unproductive, and barbaric. Armed state building is more likely to succeed when state builders match their strategy to the type and degree of state failure in the target state. Changes in material conditions—brought about by an appropriately tailored strategy—will alter the bargaining dynamic between international and local actors, making cooperative state building easier to achieve.
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