Bad Medicine

Diagnosing the Failure of State-Building Efforts in Afghanistan

in Central Asian Affairs
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

By all accounts, the post-2001 state-building effort in Afghanistan failed to deliver on its promise. Rather than blame politicians, insurgency, or obdurate customary authority, this article suggests the constitutional principles upon which the state was constructed ultimately undermined the state itself. In an attempt to address the enormous human suffering in Afghanistan, the 2004 Constitution proclaimed a vast array of positive rights to be implemented by an extremely centralized state apparatus. Yet this vision, in which individuals should look to the state as a source of individual and community well-being, is dramatically out of step with a reality in which individuals neither trusts the centralized state, nor relies on it for many public goods. For many Afghans, the notion of well-being is tied to independence from the state. An alternative state-building vision, one that appreciates a constitutional order stressing negative rights and recognizes the virtues of self-governance, would have resonated much more deeply with a society that has been served by chronically weak governments. This article uses evidence from an original nationally-representative survey and field interviews to illustrate the disjuncture between a self-governing society in which individuals strive for limited government and a state-building ‘antidote’ that offers up a very different medicine. The essay concludes by explaining why a more limited and politically bounded state-building approach, especially in rural areas, may be an important alternative to promote citizen well-being.

Bad Medicine

Diagnosing the Failure of State-Building Efforts in Afghanistan

in Central Asian Affairs

Sections

References

10

A. Wilde and K. Mielke“Order, Stability, and Change in Afghanistan: From Top-down to Bottom-up State-Making,” Central Asian Survey32 no. 3 (2013): 353–370.

11

T. Wimpelmann“Nexuses of Knowledge and Power in Afghanistan: The Rise and Fall of the Informal Justice Assemblage,” Central Asian Survey32 no. 3 (2013): 418–419.

12

T. Barfield“Culture and Custom in Nation-Building: Law in Afghanistan,” Maine Law Review60 no. 2 (2008): 348–373; A. Wardak “Building a Post-War Justice System in Afghanistan” Crime Law and Social Change 41 no. 4 (2004): 319–341; N. Coburn Informal Justice and the International Community in Afghanistan (Washington dc: United States Institute of Peace Press 2013).

14

R. Paris“Afghanistan: What Went Wrong?” Perspectives on Politics11 no. 2 (2013): 538–548.

19

B. Weingast“The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law,” American Political Science Review91 no. 2 (1997): 245–263.

20

D. North and B. Weingast“Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutional Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England,” Journal of Economic History 49 no. 4 (1989): 8002–8832.

21

P. Leeson“Efficient Anarchy,” Public Choice130 nos. 1/2 (2007): 41–53; P. Leeson Anarchy Unbound: Why Self-Governance Works Better than You Think (New York: Cambridge University Press 2014). See also J. Herbst States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control (Princeton nj: Princeton University Press 2000); and D. Bromley and G. Anderson Vulnerable People Vulnerable States: Redefining the Development Challenge (New York: Routledge 2012).

22

E. OstromGoverning the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (New York: Cambridge University Press1990).

23

J. Wunsch“Refounding the African State and Local Self-Governance: The Neglected Foundation,” Journal of Modern African Studies38 no. 3 (2000): 487–509; E. Ostrom J. Walker and R. Gardner “Covenants With and Without a Sword: Self-Governance Is Possible” American Political Science Review 86 no. 2 (1992): 404–417; S. Joireman Where There Is No Government: Enforcing Property Rights in Common Law Africa (New York: Oxford University Press 2011).

24

P. Boettke and C. Coyne“Methodological Individualism, Spontaneous Order, and the Research Program of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization57 (2005): 145–158.

26

A. Ghani and C. LockhartFixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World (New York: Oxford University Press2008).

27

BarfieldAfghanistan p. 302.

28

S. Lister“Changing the Rules? State-Building and Local Government in Afghanistan,” Journal of Development Studies45 no. 6 (2009): 992.

29

Ibid. p. 1001.

30

S. Lister and A. Wilder“Strengthening Subnational Administration in Afghanistan: Technical Reform or State-Building?” Public Administration and Development 25 no. 1 (2005): 48.

34

B. Rubin“Political Elites in Afghanistan: Rentier State Building, Rentier State Wrecking,” International Journal of Middle East Studies24 no. 1 (2009): 77–99.

35

A. SaikalModern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival (London: I.B. Tauris2004).

37

N. NojumiThe Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization Civil War and The Future of the Region (New York: Palgrave2002); O. Roy Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990).

40

J. Thier“The Making of a Constitution in Afghanistan,” New York Law School Law Review51 (2006): 557; International Crisis Group Afghanistan: The Constitutional Loya Jirga (Kabul/Brussels: International Crisis Group 2003).

43

Craig Tim“Afghan Official Says the Government Has Nearly Run out of Money,” The Washington PostSeptember 16 2014. http://wapo.st/1u2648i.

49

D. MukhopadhyayWarlords Strongman Governors and the State in Afghanistan (New York: Cambridge University Press2014).

50

J. Murtazashvili“Informal Federalism: Self-Governance and Power Sharing in Afghanistan,” Publius: The Journal of Federalism44 no. 2 (2014): 324–343. Also see J. Murtazashvili Survey on Political Institutions Elections and Democracy in Afghanistan (Washington dc: Democracy International and United States Agency for International Development 2012).

57

J. Anderson“There Are No Khāns Anymore: Economic Development and Social Change in Tribal Afghanistan,” Middle East Journal32 no. 2 (1978): 167–183.

59

Saltmarshe and MedhiLocal Governance46.

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 69 69 45
Full Text Views 92 92 57
PDF Downloads 4 4 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0