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Western-led efforts to establish a post-Taliban order in Afghanistan are in serious jeopardy. Beginning with the dynamics of Western intervention and its parallel peacebuilding mission, Astri Suhrke examines the forces that have shaped this grand international project and the apparent systemic bias toward deeper and broader international involvement.
Many reasons have been cited for the weak achievements and ever-growing complications of rebuilding Afghanistan, commonly pinpointing hostile regional, national, and international actors. Suhrke finds the policies themselves to be primarily at fault, and she condemns the extraordinary and unnecessary complexity of the multinational operation. Her main argument is that the international project to reconstruct Afghanistan contains serious tensions and contradictions that have significantly impeded progress. As a result, deepening Western involvement in the region has been dysfunctional rather than helpful, and massive international support has created an extensively weak, corrupt, and unaccountable state. U.S.-led military operations have only undermined the peacebuilding agenda, and increased international aid and monitoring have only led to Afghan resentment and evasion. Suhrke instead proposes a less intrusive international presence and recommends a longer time-frame for carrying out reconstruction. She also encourages negotiations with militants to introduce a more Afghan-directed order.
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