The Elgar Companion to Post-Conflict Transition
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The Elgar Companion to Post-Conflict Transition

Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert

What are the main drivers of political transition and regime change? And to what extent do these apparently seismic political changes result in real change? These questions are the focus of this comparative study written by a mix of scholars and practitioners. This state-of-the-art volume identifies patterns in political transitions, but is largely unconvinced that these transitions bring about real change to the underlying structures of society. Patriarchy, land tenure, and economic systems often remain immune to change, despite the headlines.
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Chapter 14: Afghanistan

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.

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