US Nation-Building in Afghanistan  book cover
1st Edition

US Nation-Building in Afghanistan

ISBN 9780815396260
Published December 8, 2017 by Routledge

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Book Description

Why has the US so dramatically failed in Afghanistan since 2001? Dominant explanations have ignored the bureaucratic divisions and personality conflicts inside the US state. This book rectifies this weakness in commentary on Afghanistan by exploring the significant role of these divisions in the US’s difficulties in the country that meant the battle was virtually lost before it even began. The main objective of the book is to deepen readers understanding of the impact of bureaucratic politics on nation-building in Afghanistan, focusing primarily on the Bush Administration. It rejects the ’rational actor’ model, according to which the US functions as a coherent, monolithic agent. Instead, internal divisions within the foreign policy bureaucracy are explored, to build up a picture of the internal tensions and contradictions that bedevilled US nation-building efforts. The book also contributes to the vexed issue of whether or not the US should engage in nation-building at all, and if so under what conditions.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Nation-building and the Afghan state

3 Bureaucratic politics and Nation-building

4 The US Foreign Policy Bureaucracy and Nation-building in Afghanistan

5 Security

6 Infrastructure Development

7 Counter-Narcotics, Law & Governance

8 The Failure of collaborative Mechanisms

9 Provincial Reconstruction teams:

10 Conclusion

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Dr Conor Keane has degrees in law and politics, and a doctorate on nation-building in Afghanistan from Macquarie University. His research interests include counter terrorism, state building, bureaucratic politics and US foreign policy. He has published several articles on these topics in journals such as Armed Forces & Society and International Peacekeeping.


’Conor Keane has written a terrific (if not terrifically depressing) account of how bureaucratic process compromised so much of the US war on terror. Using first-hand accounts with the men and women involved, the book provides a vivid and damning analysis of how nation-building in Afghanistan was undone by competition between personalities and their departments in Washington. The book offers a robust and highly readable account of US failure that is sure to secure its place amongst the best analyses of the war in Afghanistan and of the domestic structural problems that bedevil contemporary American foreign policy. It is a model piece of historical and political analysis.’ Timothy J. Lynch, University of Melbourne, Australia ’This book provides an important look at how the US government's internal struggles among agencies undercut performance in Afghanistan; a repeated problem since Vietnam that badly needs correcting.’ Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann (ret.), American Academy of Diplomacy, US