The Network Politics of International Statebuilding: Intervention and Statehood in Post-2001 Afghanistan
Date: 31 October 2013
University of Exeter
PhD in Politics
This thesis focuses on international intervention and statebuilding in post-2001 Afghanistan. It offers an alternative lens, a network lens, to understand the complexity of internationally sponsored state re-building and transformation. It therefore analyses how political power is assembled and flows through political networks in ...
This thesis focuses on international intervention and statebuilding in post-2001 Afghanistan. It offers an alternative lens, a network lens, to understand the complexity of internationally sponsored state re-building and transformation. It therefore analyses how political power is assembled and flows through political networks in statebuilding, with an eye to the hitherto ignored endogenous political networks. The empirical chapters investigate the role and power dynamics of Afghan political network in re-assembling and transforming the post-2001 state once a political settlement is reached; how everyday political network practices shape the nature of statehood and governance; and subsequently how these power dynamics and practices contribute towards political order/violence and stability/instability. This thesis challenges the dominant wisdom that peacebuilding is a process of democratisation or institutionalisation, showing how intervention has unintentionally produced the democratic façade of a state, underpinning by informal power structures of Afghan politics. The post-2001 intervention has fashioned a ‘network state’ where the state and political networks have become indistinguishable from one another: the empowered network masquerade as the state. This study suggests that a new political order is emerging in post-2001 Afghanistan where political stability is a function of patron-client relations, opportunistic practices of bargaining and expropriation of public resources for political network gain as well as the instrumentalisation of identities. In light of this analysis, it concludes with the implications of the research findings for the future of Afghanistan. It posits that a successful international military exit from Afghanistan and post-2014 state survival may depend primarily on the political stability of the empowered political networks. This research is based on extensive fieldwork, including participatory observation and interviews (more than 130 interviews) with key informants over 16 months in Afghanistan.
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