Chapter 7: International statebuilding interventions and the politics of scale
International statebuilding interventions (ISBIs) have become ubiquitous in peacebuilding and development assistance practice and theory over the past three decades. Their apparent failure to achieve many of their objectives has prompted a shift towards looking at how interventions interact with recipient states and societies. We agree that this is a positive direction for research, though find the existing efforts in peacebuilding and development studies lacking. We argue that a neglected, though crucial, dimension of the struggles shaping intervention outcomes is the politics of scale. ISBIs typically operate through the selective internationalisation of targeted states’ apparatuses, to make these responsive not to domestic political and popular pressures, but to international objectives and targets. This scalar strategy is typically met by recipients’ scalar strategies – outright rejection, selection adoption, or localisation. Intervention outcomes emerge out of this conflict, determined by the relative strength of the coalitions assembling to promote or reject these moves.
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