Making it up as We Go Along: State-building, Critical Theory and Military Adaptation in Afghanistan

This article examines the military aspects of international state-building efforts in Afghanistan through the lens of critical theory. It outlines the conventional approach to state-building, as it has evolved in recent decades, and briefly describes the emerging reflexive critique of that approach developed by state-building scholars grounded in critical theory. It then applies the reflexive critique to the Afghan state-building project, an exercise that substantiates key aspects of the critique but also reveals a divergence between the broadly conventional approach taken in Kabul and the more adaptive approaches of many practitioners at the province and district levels. It concludes with a discussion of the potential implications of this convergence for theory and practice of state-building in Afghanistan and beyond.

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