Sovereignty as “Organized Hypocrisy”

One would think that a poor, mountainous, and landlocked country like Afghanistan would be isolated from the rest of the world. Afghanistan seems to be almost always part of a bigger story. In the past 200 years or so, it’s been caught up in the middle of a number of major geopolitical events: the Great Game, the Cold War, the War on Terror… It’s never ending for Afghanistan. Not only do Afghans have their own problems and difficulties, but it looks like the great powers of this world are not making it easy on them. The 1990s was probably the one period of time when the rest of the world didn’t care that much. The Soviet Union left Afghanistan and collapsed shortly thereafter, de facto stopping its support to Najibullah’s puppet regime. Once the USSR out of the picture, the U.S. had no more interest in channelling weapons and money to the mujahideen.

The civil war that followed the collapse of Kabul’s pro-communist regime was to be described as typical of the post-cold war era: a new ideology-free kind of war where barbaric, irrational armed factions and greedy “warlords” fought each other for power. The reality of it was of course more complicated than that. What took place in most of Afghanistan in the 1990s was more of a concentration of power than a “coming anarchy.” Armed factions may have been fighting for power in Kabul, but in most of the provinces they were able to provide some sort of goods and services. There is no denying that the so-called “warlords” were violent actors who committed numerous exactions, and that these exactions must be strongly condemned. Yet, they played critical roles in people’s access to the political arena and economic opportunities, and sometimes even acted as the principal suppliers of governance to people in the areas they controlled. They can therefore be conceived of as proto state-builders using violence to establish their unquestioned authority in a given territory. In that sense, they resemble Europeans state-builders.

What was going on in Kabul, on the other hand, hardly qualifies as state-building. The mujahideen government—maybe more accurately described as a Jamiat-e Islami government—never managed to establish its monopoly of the legitimate use of force. The different factions kept fighting and never agreed on the “idea of the state.” Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, then Prime Minister of Afghanistan, even fought the government from “within” the state. Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud may have been nominally in charge, but they never exercised the slightest empirical sovereignty. It seems paradoxical that proto state-building was taking place in the provinces at the same time factions were fighting to control the capital, supposedly the heart of state power.  The provinces became stronger and more autonomous whereas the center became weaker and weaker. What took place in Afghanistan in the 1990s was maybe more a process of “mini empire-building” than state-building.  At least until the Taliban took over.

What’s especially interesting with the Taliban (besides the regime’s oddity), is the fact that they may actually have been the most successful state-builders in a while in Afghanistan. Not so much in terms of institution-building, but at least in monopolizing the means of coercion. In that sense, they exercised much more empirical sovereignty than the mujahideen government did. Yet, their regime gained diplomatic recognition (external sovereignty) from only three countries (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates). If international recognition is not about who is exercising de facto sovereignty, one can only wonder what it’s all about. It is sometimes denied to elites who grab power using illegitimate means. But the means used by the Taliban were no different from the ones used by the mujahideen. International recognition might also be denied to elites whose values are not in line with the ones the international community considers “universal.” It seems to be the main reason the Taliban were never recognised as the official representatives of the Afghan state. Yet, their values didn’t seem to bother the international community that much until 09/11. Just enough to deny a UN seat, but not enough for regime change.

Standing by UBL after the attacks on NYC and Washington DC was one step too far. The Taliban broke the rules one too many times. In the end, becoming (and being) a legitimate member of the international system might just be about playing by the rules of that so-called system. It really depends on what the interests of the main international powers are at a given time. This is pretty much what we see in the news today, between the “good” Egyptian military coup and the support to Syrian armed factions. Overall, Krasner is probably right: sovereignty might just be “organized hypocrisy.”

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.
This entry was posted in Class Discussions. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Sovereignty as “Organized Hypocrisy”

  1. exhibit A says:

    I believe that the support to the Syrian armed factions for example is only fuelled by US interest in that region. A chaos in Syria would likely diminish the remaining hope for a Middle East peace agreement and this could change the US-Iran ‘battle’ for influence in that region and have great effects on Israel (US greatest ally in that region).

    The same can be said for its continued involvement in Afghanistan.
    First, it was to the fight and reduce the threat of terrorist attacks against the US (in which they succeeded when looking at Afghanistan as a possible safe haven for terrorists).
    Second, conflicts in Afghanistan couldn’t sow instability elsewhere in the region. Such a discord might weaken Pakistan and the security of its nuclear arsenal. If Pakistani government were to fall to terrorists or extremists and they were able to seize these nuclear weapons, then security of US or its allies against a nuclear attack would surely be weakened.

    As seen in US involvement in the past decades and more recently with the Taliban, they look the other way until their interest are at stake.

    • TheEqualist says:

      Sometimes it;s like that. That they will involve in something until their interest are at stake. But i think this is only good that they are starting to think this way. In the past they would intervene too quickly and have seen that that’s not the right choices that has been made. So in the case of syria they try to avoid an intervention/support the more they could. But US is still the biggest nation on earth and everybody will look at them when there are any sort of conflicts in the world. The innocent people in syria also want to live in peace and want someone to help. And who else than the biggest nation. It is the way they do it tha’s what’s matter. But they are in the people’seyes never good. They provide Afghanistan with billions of dollars, and manu afghans still keep hating the US. So i think iinternationally they must try to figure these issues out. Interven ;? Help? or let everybody figure their own issues out ?

      • Bart says:

        For the main part I agree with your point TheEqualist. Assad used/uses excessive force and scare tactics to repress the public. Against this the people in Syria rebelled and this is their right in my opinion. They can’t win the rebellion on their own so they need outside help. This outside help is a very debatable thing since it hasn’t always been very effective in the past. But in my opinion the U.S. can’t just start giving aid to rebels without consulting the other powerful nations in the world. I would say a nation should only directly intervene in a country if they are threatened or if they have been attacked. So in this case I would say the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was justified since the Taliban posed a threat to the U.S. because they worked with Al-Qaida who attacked the U.S. on 9/11. The case of Syria is a different one I would say. The U.S. isn’t threatened directly by Syria so they can’t just intervene on their own. For this they should convene with other nations and together decide on a strategy for the U.N. on how to act instead of acting on their own account. The U.S. might be the biggest nation in the world but they can’t just intervene wherever and however they want in conflicts in other countries.

      • johu90 says:

        An important motivation for US intervention is not mentioned here which is public support. Public support is in many cases the reason to intervene or not to intervene, to cease an intervention or to continue an intervention. This can of course be linked to US interests but not necessarily for the US as a whole, it is in the interest of a specific administration which is an important distinction. Why did the US contribute to a no fly zone in Libya en yet are reluctant to properly intervene is Syria? National interest is a big factor because there is great uncertainty about the type of nation Syria will become (just like Egypt and Libya currently) after Assad is defeated but public support is probably just as important the American people are fed up with fighting wars in countries far from their beds. Especially in the middle east.

      • Hester says:

        I agree with johu90 on the point that support in the home nation is of great importance when deciding on (not) to intervene. The US government has already seen what it does to their nation when public support for actions abroad is low (as it was with the Vietnam war) and doesn’t want a situation like this to occur again.
        To have to be able to give a valid reason for intervening as well as be able to clarify the need of you specifically undertaking certain actions. What action is needed and what makes that one better than another one. And as long as they can’t justify this, they will be careful in undertaking large actions.

  2. Ba.Vi says:

    Isn’t the situation in Syria nowadays not much like the Great Game in Afghanistan, with the biggest difference being the number of players included? More or less Like in the Great Game, multiple countries have interests in Syria, like the West, Russia, Israel, Turkey and Iran.

    To be honest I don’t think that ”just” the use of chemical weapons in Syria would have been enough for a military intervention. Don’t you think the U.S. wants to show signals to their enemies that it will not accept the use of any forms of weapons of mass destruction? With enemies I mean Hezbollah and Iran in particular. It seems to me that most interventions in history have had different underlying causes, other than the events that triggered the intervention (Like the use of chemical weapons in Syria).

    • E.G. says:

      I don’t think that the number of players is the main difference between Afghanistan during the great game and Syria now. The conflict in Syria started internal between the regime and the opposition. The conflict in Afghanistan during the great game started with external forces (the Brits and the Russians).
      The question regarding Syria is to intervene in this internal conflict or not (which does send a message to the enemies of the U.S). But unlike Afghanistan during the great game Syria is not a ‘platform’ for the struggle between (mainly) the United States and their enemies.

    • Collin says:

      I think it’s strange to see that the U.S. is fighting muslim extremists in Afghanistan and is openly supporting rebels in Syria while there are a lot of muslim extremists amongst them too. Despite the probability that Assad did use chemical weapons, Syria was a stable country. There are several different ethnic groups but Assad brought them together in harmony. I think the only reason why the U.S. is supporting the rebels is Israel, and Iran and Russia are (a sort of) allies of Assad. We in the West benefit of stable situations in the Middle East (oil for instance) so why would we support rebels that are destabilizing the region? There would be a big chance that muslim extremists gain power.

      • TheEqualist says:

        Long the US has issues with Iran about nuclear projects. So they are supporting these syrian rebels to be the other side of party. Just as the cold war and great game situations in Afghanistan. U can’t let a power nation have to much of control in such a country, but US also need to go in there and monitor what is going on. We benefit of stable situations in the MiddleEast, but right now there isn’t a stable situation in syria and everybody knows Assad is not the best humanitarian out there. So maybe is this a chance to get someone else in that place. Someone who also can keep the harmony that Assad brough intact, but who wants to work more with the West and not Iran. This also the case in AFghanistan. Better a government that it’s pro-western and not one that works with Anti-west terrorist groups. (Taliban-AlQaeda). Because then there can be more control and can’t be a safehaven for terrorists in these regions.

  3. The world’s reluctance in recognizing the Taliban as the Afghan State’s official representative is, in my personal opinion, justified yet indeed hypocritical.

    Whilst the Taliban were indeed establishing some sort of stability in the Afghan State, it was still stability through implementation of force and legislation that violated some of the most basic human rights. Therefore, in my opinion, it is indeed justified that the Taliban did not receive recognition as the State’s official representative.

    However, the international community has been dealing with Afghanistan’s warlords for several years now in order to counter the Taliban, and balance the power between these warlords. However, some of these warlords have also violated human rights yet due to their importance, and flexibility in regards to their identity as warlords, they have not been demonized as much as the Taliban. Some of these warlords now take up important functions within the Afghan state. If the reason for denying the Taliban recognition was the faction’s human rights record then allowing the warlords to become part of the system is indeed an act of hypocrisy.

    To conclude I am fully aware that if one is to engage in state-building in Afghanistan one cannot pass-up the country’s warlords. I am also aware that some of them have helped Coalition forces fight against the Taliban. My point is that the warlords have also violated their fair share of human rights that even though they might now be “playing by the rules” of the system (as mentioned by the OP). Therefore, in my opinion, there is certainly a level of hypocrisy in regards to the international community recognizing a state’s official representative.

    In regards to the role of chemical weapons I believe its usage to be an act of gross misconduct but also a strategic fault by the Syrian government. Yes chemical weapons may be very cost effective in regards to conventional weapons but the demonization that can occur afterwards can result in so much attention from the international community that by deploying such weapons you increase public support for military action against your own faction. The conflict in Syria has been going on since 2011 but ever since the phrase “chemical weapons” appeared there has been a crescendo of activity in the public space concerning a possible intervention.

    The Syrian government, in my opinion, lost its legitimacy long before it deployed chemical weapons. The government might try to stamp out the civil war but will never reclaim its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the international community. However, by deploying chemical weapons the Syrian government has basically presented itself as a case in which the international community must intervene if it is to live up to its promise of punishing the usage of such weapons. Otherwise ,not intervening whilst there are clear signs of WMD usage may even seem hypocritical if one looks at how the international community intervened in Iraq.

    • Sophie says:

      Bearded Dutchman, you touch upon a very interesting point by saying ´Syria will never reclaim its legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the international community´. That’s exactly the question: in whose eyes do you have to be legitimate in order to be a sovereign state? In the eyes of the (majority of) the international community? Or in the eyes of the people in your country (again, the majority). These things don’t always coincide, and both groups might have different reasons for attributing legitimacy. For example, the Taliban government was sharply condemned by the international community (and of course also by some of the Afghan people), but the alternative the US gives now is also not so much applauded by the Afghan population either. Now, it will not be clear-cut cases, since a country´s inhabitants and the international community do have some preferences in common: stability, welfare and human rights recognition will be appreciated by both groups. But I think that ‘universal values’, as established by the international community (a.k.a. the West) aren’t always seen as universal by the population of some countries. Again, the discussion of democracy before economic development and security, is relevant here.

      It might not be possible to sustain internal government without external recognition, but it wouldn’t hurt to think about who’s in charge in attributing legitimacy to a government. The people who are being governed by it or the international community which has a tendency to think it knows best? It would be ideal to have them together: an international community letting their judgment be determined by the people’s preferences, but in practice, I fear the balance might tip over to the latter side.

      • Hester says:

        Interesting statement Sophie, questioning where legitimacy comes from. Why is it that you fear however that the balance might tip over to the side of the people deciding for themselves what they consider to be legitimate? What can be more legitimate than your own people considering you as such?
        A problem with this will, I think, occur when the people just ‘don’t know better’ of have no other options to go with and therefore perceive their government as legitimate out of necessity. Many times before in class we have discussed how sometimes the only options countries like Afghanistan and Syria are given concerning who governs them are bad ones, and it’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. In that case, I believe there should be more focus on the international system when attributing legitimacy to a system. But then rises the question if it will make a change when on an international level a state doesn’t receive legitimacy. Will a Syrian ‘government’ care enough to make a change when in practice it’s already in power but just not perceived as totally legitimate?

      • Oskar says:

        Actually, I would like to reply on Hester’s reply, but I couldn’t, so I reply this way. You’re stating that in cases of Afghanistan there should be more focus on the international system when attribruting legitimacy to a system, but I really disagree with that in case of Afhanistan. Even more, this is also an objection to the statement the Bearded Dutchmann made above. Because of the comparison he makes with Syria.

        This is because I think Syria is a very different case than Afghanistan. Syria’s borders are drawed by another government, namely the French government in WW I. Syria’s borders aren’t very natural according to it’s history, and the ethnic minority (<10% of the people) which is trying to govern the state isn't very natural either. It's imposed to the people by the French also. Afghanistan is an different case, because it's borders are, with exclusion of the one with Pakistan, very natural. Afghanistan as it is on the world map today, is an country in which the people are ment to be the people of Afghanistan according to their history. They are children of their fathers wich were serving the Shah, in a country that exist much longer (and has been much larger) than Syria.

        So, in my opinion, in Afghanistan the Taliban have a more legitimate claim for souvereignty than the Assad government in Syria. Because in Syria a small ethnic group has been supressing a large one with the assistance of Russian weapons and money for a long time. It's because of foreign powers that the civil war in Syria is this bloody, and because of that, foreign powers should intervene to stop it and start up peace-building.

        The Taliban after all are just supressing woman and secular people according to their religion, which shouldn't really matter to the souvereignty debate, if we still use the souvereignty criteria fouded at the peace of Westfalia in 1648. Al of those countries which were signing this peace agreement were supressing some smaller ethnic groups by then, so they are very hypocritical while they are accusing those issues nowadays. The criteria of souvereignty founded in 1648 which they agreed upon where met because they didn't want external forces to interfere in their own domestic regulations in their own territory. Just because of this those states should be fair, they should recognise and treat other sovereign governments in the same way. If the people of Afghanistan want the Taliban to be their leaders, foreign powers should accept that, just because, opposed to the Syrian government, they have a fair historical claim.

  4. Peteroski says:

    I think becoming a state in the international field is definitely playing a game and having the right friends. If the western world is your ally, you will have viable trade options and perhaps a right to speak in international organizations. Maybe not all, but you will at least have an outlet. Take Kosovo for example, not recognized by Russia and it’s neighbour for example, but trying to get it’s economy going through trade to the west.

    Let’s say you’re the Taliban and the world does not however recognize your internal sovereignty in Afghanistan (this is open for debate, but for example), you will have no international voice, nor trade. This will make it is a lot harder to rebuild a war torn country’s economy without international help, which in turn makes it harder to keep internal sovereignty. The consequence of this situation is in my opinion a true fall-back to medieval times. Not in technology, but rather in self-reliance, for a country like Afghanistan without help and little resources the best option than might be to go back to the regional tribal system.

    • sergiu says:

      Before of the “International Community” state’s were doing quite well alone. There were some political agreements, some international tradition and some big meetings. But the internal economy of the states pursued.

      Unity and nationalisms, also trade barriers were a normal habit for all the States. Even now, most of the countries protect their economy from the ”international market”.

      What build a state, at the beginning , is the force . Everything was build after the use of force and we, in Europe , we know something about. Until you don’t have a military organization about all the nation or territory, you won’t control the jurisdiction . Above the economy we have the law.

      If the law, that should be the filter within the economy pass, don’t help and improve the economic development, we have a problem. The Talibans may have gained the legitimacy to rule the country but their government was more a filter for radical religion and not for economic development. You may build an army or give some places inside the bureaucracy, but without taxes and a growth economy , nothing will last.

      We have a lot of examples about countries that they don’t really care about the International Community . North Korea by first, followed by Syria (before of the internal crisis) and Iran . Those countries have :

      1. monopoly of force inside the territory( a well organised army)
      1.1. legitimacy
      1.2 represent danger for who may attack them

      2. the government is focused on economic growth . When you control all the economic cycles inside your country you can plan some development. This means that you build some national industries. ( Of course, if you open the gates to everyone those industries will fall because they are not worldwide competitive).

      Think about Gheddafi and his relationship with the International Community. But he was well tolerated, maybe for too long. Everything felt to pieces when his petrol-dollar economy felt. People don’t go on the streets if they have a job, house and food. In Afghanistan you cannot go on the streets because there are not even been constructed by the government. (against who you will protest? ) .

      So, International help, may count or not. Depends on a multiple factors. What does count at the beggining is the monopoly of force. No economy was built without. Oh yes, these is one..Island has no army( but they are only 319.575 people )

    • MerelR says:

      I agree with you Peteroski on your point about the Taliban. To command on “for a country like Afghanistan without help and little resources the best option than might be to go back to the regional tribal system”, I think when you want to (re)build a state the question is whether you have to create internal security first, before you can build anything else. The US places great emphasis on training the Afghan National Army so they will be able to provide security when the US forces leave the country. This might be the best option in a situation where even the most vital government institutions are lacking or failing. Situation similar to what Hobbes calls a state of nature. Providing security is necessary for transforming a state of nature into a peaceful and stable society. At the same time most international actors share the deeply rooted assumption that liberalization, free market and democracy are a remedy for violent conflict. Although democratic forms of government are more peaceful, there is no evidence that this is the best option for a country that just came out of civil conflict. I wonder if we can combine this two approaches of building a democratic and liberal state and trying to provide security at the same time. Or is it better to start with creating security and waiting until the time is right with trying to build a liberal democracy.

  5. ML93 says:

    I agree on Peteroski’s fact that it is hard for a country to rebuild and develop itself without foreign support or trade. In a globalized world like today, interaction in the global system seems one of the few means to development and prosperity.
    It is however the question in what way the Taliban would have rebuilt Afghanistan if they had the means to do so. Could you view the Taliban’s vision for the future of Afghanistan as a way of rebuilding and development at all?
    I think not. The Taliban are so extreme and traditional in their way of life that most of their laws, rules etc. are rather seen as a setback instead of rebuilding or development. For example the Taliban banned music, television, girls education and dancing. It is hard to see why this would be better for the country. I see it as a “cultural genocide”, a setback to medieval times.
    In my view the international community did nothing to stop this until 9/11. The international community didn’t just leave the Taliban regime out, they also left the Afghan population out. The world watched as the Afghan culture was suffering as severely as the Afghan people were.

  6. Laura says:

    I think the number one priority for the U.S. and other western states regarding conflicts in the Middle East is bringing back stability in order to protect their economic interests. That is why the Egyptian military coup is supported and the political will to actually remove the Assad regime is limited (because that would lead to chaos and armed conflict even more). In the Afghan case however, stability didn’t seem to be the leading objective: although they brought some level of national stability, the Taliban were never recognized as the official representatives of the Afghan state. But the international community also did not feel the need to take action against the Taliban regime, because their interests we’re not directly threatened. This obviously changed after 9/11. So yes, Krasner has a point in stating that sovereignty might just be organized hypocrisy, in my opinion driven by economic interests or direct threats on national security.

    I believe this double standard, supporting stable authoritarian regimes on the one hand and promoting democracy and human rights on the other, is a dangerous source for anti-western terrorism in the Middle East. Also the western attitude towards the Afghan society nowadays – killing the direct threat, creating some level of short term stability, but in the end leaving the population ‘on her own’, not ready to fully take over the control – shows the inferior concern about human welfare, which can result in increasing anti-western sentiments in Afghanistan too, I’m afraid.

    • Ba.Vi says:

      Laura I agree with your view on the Western attitude towards the Afghan society. Unfortunately, the short-term approach on counterterrorism has become some sort of roadblock to the long-term ideals of the American of democracy and economic liberalization.

      As I learned from this weeks readings, a hybrid form of governance -where warlords enforce their informal power in the provinces, combined with some centralized formal institutional governance- isn’t too bad. It’s more like a second-best solution. However, I think that this form of governance is for a great part relying on the presence of the Americans, who are pushing back the the Taliban. Governor Atta, for instance, has publicly spoken out against the U.S. exit strategy from Afghanistan. Understandably, Atta is strictly opposed to bringing the Taliban back into negotiations and opposes any reconciliation with his former enemies.

      So I guess leaving Afghanistan alone by retreating does trigger anti-western sentiments, but I think this has also a lot to do with the fact that the Taliban and anti-western extremists get more space for anti-western activities, perhaps even recruitment.

      • Laura says:

        Thank you for your reaction. I think you make a convincing point in stating that the retreat of the U.S. triggers anti-western sentiments because it enables the Taliban to ‘freely’ operate in Afghanistan. Although the criteria for the liberal democracy model do not meet the emperical reality of societies like Afghanistan, I think it can be concluded that the monopoly on the legitimate use of force is of crucial importance to this hybrid form of statehood too.

  7. 2ways says:

    However most already is said by people who previously replied I believe one major point has been forgotten. The Taliban, despite providing some sort of stability in a part of Afghanistan, allowed Pakistani/Saudi radicals to train and study extremism on their soil. This made the whole lot of international actors wary of recognising an organization such as the Taliban (together with the constant neglect of Women’s rights). The attacks on the WTC showed that the Taliban might not directly be very dangerous for international actors, since their main focus lies on Afghanistan itself, but indirectly could form a huge problem as breeding ground for other terrorist organisations. The USA won’t recognise such a dangerous organisation, but neither would Russia for the chance that extremists could be trained to fight in Chechnya.

    In the comments above it is mentioned that it is hypocritically that the US currently supports Syrian rebels which might be radicals as well. This support however isn’t very impressive so far. There are no direct contacts between the US army (officials) and the rebels. Plans for contact are being made, but the US does try to figure out all the different factions of rebels and tries to support the more moderate ones.

    In my opinion it therefore is not necessarily true that international recognition is exposed to hypocrisy, the international actors did think through their motives whether or not to recognise the Taliban and made a carefully weighted decision.

  8. Alucard says:

    Is the international system really all that different than any group of people whose coalescence brings out, either a tacit or outspoken, code of conduct? That code often being enforced by the most dominant member, chastising/ostracizing any other member who doesn’t adhere to this code.

    IF there is a desire for a regime to attain external recognition from the international community, there has to be some level of conformity. This “joining the club” conformity takes place on every social level, it is a psychological trait of humanity; although it is cloaked within ideological rhetoric on the international scale.

    The Taliban did show some desire (or perhaps, acquiescence) on their part when they undertook to take out the poppy fields as a sign of good faith. A gesture not too small considering a very large percentage of their revenues derived from that niche market. The direct clash with the international community (or better said: The US in particular) seems to stem from their continued alliance with Al-Qaeda.

    The United States and their allies form the largest military force in the world and as such have considerable sway as to what is acceptable for state actors to do.It might be hypocritical, but who wouldn’t be supportive of those who are like-minded, and hostile to those whose behaviour strikes you as ideologically irreconcilable?

    Hypocrisy is defined as “the practice of professing beliefs, or virtues that one does not hold, posses or exercise.”

    While I agree with Laura that there is a double standard at play, sometimes international action (whether it be political or military) sometimes has its limitations, giving practical realities precedence over idealistic convictions. The fact that the US has chosen for a policy of collaboration with local strongmen ( who by and large have committed human rights violations themselves) is rather a concession to circumstantial realities than an ambivalent display of organized hypocrisy.

  9. Lotte says:

    I agree with you 2ways, on the point that the Taliban might not directly be very dangerous for international actors. They wanted to capture the Afghan state and impose their own Islamic order (Sharia). Although they reject the cultural model of the West, the Taliban and the West are not strategic opponents, they could be allies.

    However I do believe that international recognition is exposed to hypocrisy, just as Krasner said. It is all about economic interest. When the economic interests of the US are not in danger, a lot is condoned. Laura pointed out earlier that national security is important too. For example, the Taliban violated woman rights on a major scale and the US never did anything about it. They acted by deposing the Taliban once their own national security became endangered.
    I believe international recognition is a major game and the players of this game seek only to best represent their own interests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s