Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Special Reports

Two Interventions: Comparing Soviet and US-led state-building in Afghanistan

Martin Kipping < 1 min

Although there is a broad consensus that building a capable and legitimate state is key to success in Afghanistan, there has been little systematic comparison between the current US-led intervention and the Soviet state-building intervention that took place between 1979 and 1989. This paper aims to remedy that by analysing the trajectories of both interventions. It focuses on three sectors of state-building: the security sector, fiscal policy, and state legitimation, and explores how issues of ownership and sequencing have influenced the outcomes of both efforts.

The paper describes how Soviet-promoted state-building was severely hampered by the rural mujahedin insurgency, factionalism within the PDPA, and the failure to reach fiscal sustainability. The ‘stopgap’ measures aimed at reducing military pressure on the regime, through the creation of militias and the conclusion of ‘protocols’, was ultimately a major factor in the regime’s collapse. The US-led state-building in Afghanistan, in comparison, suffered from bad sequencing, while the adoption of ‘stopgap’ measures in the security sector equally threaten to undermine earlier state-building successes.

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Afghanistan Analysts Network, Thematic Report, 01/2010

Released 15 April 2010

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