Category Archives: Class Discussions

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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | Leave a comment

Afghanizing COIN

No civilian in the development world really likes to talk about military issues. At best people will mention the development/security nexus, or the need to disarm violent militias that don’t respect human rights and good governance. Most NGO workers, UN personnel, … Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 65 Comments

Patrimonialism, Warlordism, and Corruption

Patrimonialism, warlordism, and corruption… These are what most Western observers believe to be some of the greatest impediments to the modernization of Afghanistan. Add opium to the list and you can start to grasp the difficulty and complexity of building … Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 44 Comments

Hard-Earned Humility

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last week, nearly twelve years after the U.S. intervened in Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime, President Obama spoke of a “hard earned humility when it comes to [the U.S.] … Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 36 Comments

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 … Continue reading

Posted in Class Discussions | 23 Comments