Democratic Aspirations and Destabilizing Outcomes in Afghanistan

15 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2014

See all articles by Norah Niland

Norah Niland

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) - The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP)

Date Written: October 15, 2014

Abstract

The United States and its allies, in control of Afghanistan since October 2001, failed to support the development of an inclusive, legitimate and accountable political system. This paper examines how the imposition of an inappropriate model of democracy, the prioritization of American interests over those of Afghans, and a pattern of expedient political decisions have contributed to the destabilization of the country. The democracy and state-building model imposed on Afghanistan was stymied from the outset by critical foundational flaws. These include the return to power of discredited warlords reviled by most Afghans, the marginalization of particular groups including the remnants of the Taliban movement, and the concentration of power in an executive Presidency at the expense of a weak parliamentary structure. In 2014, along with the drawdown of US and NATO troops, Afghanistan’s disputed election saga ended in a no-victor deal that effectively discarded the (as yet unknown) results of the ballot box. Once again, Washington politics reinforced the grip of a warlord-dominated elite on the machinery of the state and exposed the hollowness of the US-led and UN-supported state building project.

Keywords: Costs of War, Afghanistan, democracy, warlords, UN, Taliban, parliament, voting

Suggested Citation

Niland, Norah, Democratic Aspirations and Destabilizing Outcomes in Afghanistan (October 15, 2014). Watson Institute for International Studies Research Paper No. 2014-20. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2522200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2522200

Norah Niland (Contact Author)

Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) - The Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) ( email )

Maison de la Paix
Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2, Petal 2, 8th floor
Genève, CH-1211
Switzerland

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