Interventions and statebuilding are highly ambiguous endeavours. This chapter introduces ambiguity analysis which opens up new perspectives of non-competitive representations of intervention and statebuilding practice. It allows giving credit to the multiple truths at work in politics revolving around statehood, violence, legal governance, and notions of progress. Progress and rationality, it is argued, have lowered tolerance for ambiguity in politics and social life just as much as in academic enquiry. Systematically researching ambiguity, however, is not arguing for sloppy conceptualisation. Pointing out characteristics of ambiguities in interventions and statebuilding, new avenues for research can be explored; the chapter demonstrates how the state, but also military and bureaucratic interventions contribute to conflict dynamics in their move to disambiguate social life.
Florian P. Kühn
Florian P. Kühn
The intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11 ushered in an age of strong modernization policies, social transformation and rent-based restructuring of the Afghan polity. However, vast amounts of foreign funds were unable to level aspirations and actual performance. Although Western funds were largely used to build a state consisting of Potemkin villages, the capital influx distorted politics into dysfunctional cliques and elite bargaining. None of this improved the living conditions of the majority, while achievements in economic and democratic terms for the emerging urban middle class remain superficial and fragile. Polarization along long-lasting cleavages such as urban–rural, between generations, ethnic groups, and economic winners and losers has increased during the transition. This transition’s lasting effect is beyond question when it comes to changes in society – and whether it amounts to a modernization of politics, of economic patterns, or social interaction remains doubtful. The state continues to prove unable to tame the dynamics of conflict. In all its deficiencies, the state has remained subject to external meddling and manipulation, contingent upon its dependence on foreign funding.