1st Edition

Western Intervention and Informal Politics Simulated Statebuilding and Failed Reforms

By Troels Burchall Henningsen Copyright 2022
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines the political and military dynamic between threatened local regimes and Western powers, and it argues that the power of informal politics forces local regimes to simulate statebuilding.

    Reforms enabling local states to take care of their own terrorist and insurgency threats are a blueprint for most Western interventions to provide a way out of protracted internal conflicts. Yet, local regimes most often fail to implement reforms that would have strengthened their hand. This book examines why local regimes derail the reforms demanded by Western powers when they rely on their support to stay in power during existentially threatening violent crises. Based on the political settlement framework, the author analyses how web-like networks of militarized elites require local regimes to use informal politics to stay in power. Four case studies of Western intervention are presented: Iraq (2011-2018), Mali (2011-2020), Chad (2005-2010), and Algeria (1991-2000). These studies demonstrate that informal politics narrows strategic possibilities and forces regimes to rely on coup-proofing military strategies, to continue their alliances with militias and former insurgents, and to simulate statebuilding reforms to solve the dilemma of satisfying militarized elites and Western powers at the same time.

    This book will be of much interest to students of statebuilding, international intervention, counter-insurgency, civil wars, and international relations.

    1. The puzzle of non-cooperative, but existentially threatened regimes

    2. Informal politics and regime strategy

    3. Chad: turning friends into enemies and enemies into friends

    4. Mali: counterinsurgency by clients and patron

    5. Iraq: fighting the Islamic State with an unstable alliance

    6. Algeria: security institutions fighting for their survival

    7. Do politics, organizations, or persons derail reforms?

    8. Betting on institutions or persons?


    Troels Burchall Henningsen is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Strategy and War Studies at the Royal Danish Defence College.

    'Where Henningsen’s analysis comes to the fore is really the four cases. Here he shows how a specific mix of formal and informal politics may lead to different outcomes of interventions and state building (Algeria does not have an international intervention in the same way as the other case studies), even when the aims of the reforms were similar. The analysis moves on to examine the impact of informal politics, but also the balance of civilian and military organisations within international interventions, as well as the impact of regional politics and power.'

    Paul Jackson, International Peacekeeping, August 2023