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A nation must think before it acts.
Despite modern challenges to post-conflict state-building projects, post-war stabilization and reconstruction efforts remain an essential function of foreign policy. These strategies, however, need to evolve further with the changing character of warfare. Unlike some large-scale wars of the past, many modern campaigns are smaller and involve outsourcing some portion of combat to local surrogates that often become empowered in the post-war phases. Accordingly, the initial conflict and the post-war stabilization project that follows should be approached not as sequential phases but, instead, as operations under an integrated long-term strategy. This article suggests such an approach with three key components: 1) the establishment of local partners that can succeed in both the conflict and post-war stabilization phases; 2) the design of an agreed upon plan for a power transition prior to the stabilization phase; and 3) the use of strategic leverage to advance the goals of stabilization.