What An Afghan Warlord-Turned Vice President Tells Us About Military Intervention and State Building

Last month, American officials denied Afghan warlord-turned Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum a visa to the United States. In doing so, they did not simply refuse entry to the second-ranking official of a regime the United States helped put in place. They also turned down a man who was instrumental in recapturing the Northern city of Mazar-e Sharif from the Taliban in 2001; a man who worked hand in hand with US Special Forces as part of the “Global War on Terror.” Fifteen years later, the same man is barred from entering the United States. Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 1 Comment

Warlords, Intervention, and State Consolidation: A Typology of Political Orders in Weak and Failed States

Despite efforts to bolster failed states over the past two decades, many states in the international system still exhibit endemic weakness. External intervention often leads to political instability and in most cases fails to foster state consolidation, instead empowering and creating ties with the ones it aims to weaken. Using the case of Afghanistan, I develop a typology of political orders that explains variation in degrees of state consolidation and provides the basis for more systematic comparative analysis. I demonstrate the resilience of a political logic according to which non-state armed actors (warlords) “shape-shift” and constantly reinvent themselves to adapt to changing political environments. This article, based on extensive field research in Afghanistan, shows why failed states are unlikely to consolidate and exhibit Western-style state building, as a result of intervention or otherwise.

Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment

NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone

Book review – NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone by David P. Auerswald and Stephen Saideman, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014, ISBN: 9780691159386

k10149

 

Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment

What Legitimate Actor?

Below is a blog post that I just wrote for the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law and their online debate on “Building peace locally” and “Working with local non-state actors” (available at: http://www.kpsrl.org/online-debate/online-debate-discussion/t/what-legitimate-actor).

Building peace locally is a noble idea. Yet, finding legitimate and accountable local actors to work with is often more complicated than expected, in particular when what is meant by building peace locally in fact comes down to externally selecting and empowering the actors that are considered legitimate. Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment

Is Armed Truce the Future of Political Order?

Max Weber, in his seminal Politics as a Vocation lecture, defined a state as “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” What logically follows the German sociologist’s classical definition is that state making is a (violent) process that consists in wiping out those who can contest that monopoly inside that territory. Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment

Urban Violence in Comparative Perspective

As the readers of this blog obviously know, most of my fieldwork in the past seven years has taken me to Afghanistan. Yet as a researcher of conflict and political violence, I find myself interested in other parts of the world. Comparative experience and study is always productive. Not only does it help researchers to better understand broader dynamics and phenomena, but it also leads them to reflect upon the places they know best, in my case Afghanistan. That’s with this mindset that I just took my first trip to Mogadishu. Needless to say Somalia’s capital is extremely different from Kabul. Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 1 Comment

No Sustainable Peace without Involving Transnational Partners

Next week the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law will bring together a mix of academics, policy-makers, and NGO representatives to talk about the transnational dimension of ‘local’ conflicts, in Mali and Afghanistan more particularly. Before we all meet in the Hague the Knowledge Platform, in cooperation with The Broker, is hosting and coordinating an online debate on these questions (http://www.kpsrl.org/online-debate). Here is my contribution (for replies and more debate, see link above). Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment