Suicide Attacks!

Not that I am obsessed with safety issues but I have to admit that suicide attacks are also part of doing research in Afghanistan. And as much as I would like to ignore it, spending time in a war zone involves some otherwise pretty unusual risks. Unfortunately it is something people living in Afghanistan are constantly reminded of. That’s why I thought I had to tackle suicide bombings one way or another in the new “field research” section. This time, I chose not to write about it myself, but to refer you to John Wendle’s excellent article about the latest attack in Kabul.

Why Kabul Should Expect More Suicide Bombings

About Afghanopoly

I am an Assistant Professor of peace and conflict studies at Radboud University's Centre for International Conflict Analysis and Management (CICAM). I completed my PhD in Political Science at Northwestern University and Sciences Po under the supervision of Will Reno and Bertrand Badie. Among other things, I teach students about the politics of international intervention in Afghanistan and elsewhere. My research focuses on the political strategies that Afghan strongmen use to consolidate and legitimize their authority. I am particularly interested in how these actors manage to conduct their own forms of international relations. My field research brings me in contact with Afghan community leaders, politicians, diplomats and foreign military officers.
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3 Responses to Suicide Attacks!

  1. Hawk says:

    Suicide attacks provide important data points, not so? There wasn’t much of this sort of activity prior to 2007. This practice seems to have appeared and grown in tandem with the expansion of American aims in Afghanistan (i.e, from the 2001 aim to overthrow a regime & kill Evil Doers to building national infrastructure, providing services outside of cities, eradicating opium production, administrative reforms, new political processes, etc, etc). The tactical deployment of these attacks might shed light on the relationship of regional authorities to the state, to foreign actors, and so forth.

    Looking at suicide bombing through this lens, one wonders if there are regional authorities who benefit from these American war aims and associated resources and who do not attract suicide bombers. If so, why? Does this have something to do with local ethnic or kinship affiliations or is there some particular way that local authorities encourage people to denounce would-be bombers and their helpers? All of this points to informal dimensions of governance.

  2. johnwendle says:

    Thanks for taking the time out to write – I agree that the Taliban has increased bombing and IED campaigns as foreign presence has increased. I’m not sure though how the “tactical deployment of these attacks might shed light on the relationship of regional authorities to the state, to foreign actors.”
    My colleague’s recent story in TIME – Why Afghans Don’t Bash the Taliban for Bombings at,8599,2052660,00.html – might shed some light on the questions in your second paragraph.

  3. Afghanopoly says:

    Julien Cavendish’s article might indeed “shed light” on the relationships of local (more than regional) authorities to the central state and foreign actors by emphasizing the role of increasingly politicized mullahs in Pasthun areas where traditional leadership has been eliminated.
    However this article does not tackle the issue the existence of regional authorities who benefit from “these American aims and associated resources and who do not attract suicide bombers.” For more on this issue, please refer to my new post: “The Politics of Survival: Center-Periphery Relations in Today’s Afghanistan.”

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