Edited by Hans-Joachim Giessmann, Roger Mac Ginty, Beatrix Austin and Christine Seifert
Chapter 14: Afghanistan
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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