The Fatal Conceit of Foreign Intervention: Evidence from the Afghanistan Papers
35 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2021 Last revised: 22 Apr 2021
Date Written: January 20, 2021
The fatal conceit of foreign intervention refers to the limitations faced by governments using discretionary power to address perceived problems in foreign societies. Drawing on evidence from the “Afghanistan Papers”—a collection of internal government documents compiled by the Special Inspector General for the Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and released in December 2019—we demonstrate how the failure of the U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan to meet the stated objectives illustrates the fatal conceit of foreign intervention. We explore the limitations faced by foreign government interveners in three stages, reflecting distinct decision nodes within a means-ends framework in which the policies relating to foreign intervention are formulated and implemented.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Afghanistan Papers, fatal conceit, foreign intervention, nation building
JEL Classification: D73, F50, H56
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation