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  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy



    Creation of a Warlord



    Ana Pejcinova

    Submitted to

    Central European University

    Department of Political Science

    Mentor: Professor Aida Hozic, Ithaca University, Florida

    Budapest, Hungary - 2006

    The security of some and the insecurity of others, our

    modernity and their tradition are parts of a

    simultaneous., linked, fragmented world … the

    fragmenting countries show the integrating ones the

    dark side of their common present. ‘If you do not like

    the image in the mirror,’ says an old Persian poem,

    ‘do not break the mirror, break your face.’

    Barnett Rubin, on the post-Cold War world In The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: Afghanistan, Mirror of the World (1995)

  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy


    Acknowledgments The idea for this thesis appeared during an intense period of my deployment in Afghanistan as a UN electoral officer, for the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections 2004 and 2005. A number of Afghan men and women are present in this text, with their warmth, dignity, and impressive will to live, free from bitterness and self-pity. My first thanks therefore are due to my former colleagues and friends from the Logar Province, Kabul Region: mullah Qazi Sultan Fahim and Haji Abdul Rahman. Also, warm thanks to the Afghan team of the Southeast Region and the Peter Erben electoral team. Special gratitude to Trevor Martin, Head of the UNAMA Central Field Office, for his wise and sophisticated understanding of Afghan politics; and to Geoff Hourn, former UNOPS Regional Manager, for his continuous support and friendship. Sincere appreciation to my CEU mentor, Professor Aida Hozic, for her invaluable guidance through the areas of international relations and political science.

    This text does not express the opinion of any of the aforementioned individuals, or organizations.

    Abstract This thesis is a qualitative single-case study of emergence and consolidation of a so-called “warlord democracy” in Afghanistan, a formally democratic regime where violence predominantly serves as a trump in economic, political and social contracts. A definition and typology of Afghan warlords as military entrepreneurs is developed. Five enabling conditions of militant entrepreneurship are explained: the socio-historical and economic conditions, the regime imposition by a foreign military intervention, the democratic transitional paradigm limited to institution-building, and the global phenomenon of fusion of post-modern warfare and gain maximization. The thesis shows the contexts of development and specific mechanisms of the five enabling conditions, which contrary to the expectations of their theoretical framework or the paradigms whence they stem from, consistently contributed to the creation, institutionalization and legitimization of a warlord democracy in Afghanistan.

  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy



    1.1.1. Defining Warlords 1.1.2. Afghan Warlords 1.1.3. Categories of Warlords 1.1.4. Warlordism

    1.2. History of Warlordism 1.2.1. The Rise of Warlordism in the

    Cold War 1.2.2. The Role of Warlords in the Fall of

    the Taliban 1.2.3. Post-Taliban Phase 1.2.4. Establishment of Warlordism 1.2.5. International Contractors 1.2.6. Grievances

    1.3. Elections 1.3.1. Presidential Elections 2004 Electoral data Electoral violations Undercurrents

    1.3.2. Parliamentary Elections 2005 Electoral Data Candidates Candidacy Violations Electoral Violations

    1.3.3. Post-electoral development CHAPTER 2: Violence and Profit 2.1. The Situation 2.1.1. Resource Dependence 2.1.2. New Commanders 2.2. Nexus 2.2.1. Growing Poppy 2.2.2. Income, Bans and Prices 2.3. Poverty and Illicit Economy 2.4. Poppy-eradication Programme 2.5. Addicted Economy CHAPTER 3: Afghan Cultural Model 3.1. Qawm 3.1.1. Types of Social Bonds 3.1.2. Values 3.1.3. Shifting Alliances 3.2. Customary Laws 3.2.1. Shura 3.2.2. Arbakai 3.2.3. Jirga 3.2.4. Equality and Honour

  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy


    3.2.5. Regulation of Violence 3.3. Traditional Origins of Warlords 3.4. De-regulation of Violence CHAPTER 4: Democratization by Foreign Intervention 4.1. Democracy by Force 4.1.1. Democratization as Security Policy 4.1.2. Democratization as Ends or Means 4.1.3. Mechanisms of Failure 4.1.4. Economic Perspective of Foreign Interventionism CHAPTER 5: Democratization without Illusions 5.1. State-building, Nation-building and Security 5.2. Democratization Paradigm 5.2.1. Electoralist Democracy 5.2.2. Post-conflict Elections 5.2.3. Between Democracy and Autocracy 5.2.4. Hybrid Regimes 5.3. Critique of Democratization CHAPTER 6: Post-modernizing Afghanistan 6.1. The Symptoms 6.2. Models of Societal Interrelations 6.2.1. Pre-modernity 6.2.2. Modernity 6.2.3. Post-modernity 6.2.4. Post-modern Wars

    6.3. Globalization and Dedifferentiation 6.3.1. Commodification of violence 6.3.2. Warfare, Welfare and Levelling of the State 6.3.3. The Post-modern State 6.3.4. Between War and Peace 6.3.5. Post-modernizing Afghanistan CHAPTER 7: Managing Militant Entrepreneurship 7.1. Elimination 7.2. Incorporation 7.2.1. Unintended Consequences 7.2.2. Taming Violence and Profit CONCLUSION ABBREVIATIONS GLOSSARY OF AFGHAN WORDS ILLUSTRATIONS BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy


    Introduction This thesis describes the creation of a warlord democracy in Afghanistan, a formally democratic system dominated by local warlords and their proxies. I argue that five enabling conditions supported the creation of such system: (1) the specific socio-historical conditions and events in the country, (2) the economic situation of harsh poverty and high demand for security and income, (3) the US- led military intervention in Afghanistan, (4) the paradigm of transition to democracy focused on institutions, and (4) the global pattern of emergence and sustenance of “new” wars (Kaldor 1999)1 with a distinctive gain-maximizing feature. The five enabling conditions are connected by a common micro- pattern of blending of violence and profit. I use this pattern to define warlords as “militant entrepreneurs.” The concept of militant entrepreneurship developed by Thomas Gallant2 describes a category of societal entrepreneurs whose differentiating feature is provision of the commodity of violence and its counterpart, security. I analyze five contexts of occurrence of militant entrepreneurship in Afghanistan 1 Mary Kaldor, “New and Old Wars: Organized violence in a global era” (Cambridge: Polity 1999). 2 Thomas W. Gallant, “Brigandage, Piracy, Capitalism, and State-Formation: Transnational crime from a historical world-systems perspective,” in “States and Illegal Practices,” eds. Josiah Heyman and Alan Smart (Oxford International Publishers Ltd. 1999).

    (electoral, military, economic, socio-historical, and global contexts), where the ability to deliver or withhold violence appears cross- contextually as a commodity in societal contracts. This thesis attempts to demonstrate how the fundamental paradigms, whence from the five enabling conditions stem, are utilized in the case-country in procreation of violence and profit. I show how the shortcomings of the paradigms enabled them to be manipulated toward consistently contributing to the creation, institutionalization and legitimization of a warlord democracy in Afghanistan. The following text presents a qualitative single-case study, based on my observations and empirical research of Afghan power-relations in the period of 2004-2005. The motivation for research draws on what I perceived in Afghanistan as a discrepancy between intended policy outcomes and unintended consequences in field practice of the democratization paradigm. I argue that post-conflict strategies are in deficit of appropriate theoretical concepts and, consequently, in deficit of functional policies and practices for approaching warlordism. As John Mackinlay observes: “The international community has not yet developed a language and an approach to tackle the warlords… [They] fall beyond the language of Clausewitzian writers and communicators whose only concept of violence is as an instrument of policy.”3 The oxymoron “warlord democracy” is a symptom of this linguistic and theoretical deficit. This thesis attempts to contribute to

    3 John Mackinlay, in Sasha Lezhnev’s “Crafting Peace: Strategies to deal with warlords in collapsing states,” (Lexington Books, 2005):1-2.

  • Afghanistan: Creation of a Warlord Democracy


    the development of a theoretical language which approximates the phenomenon of warlordism, and hopefully, it may in turn enable political analysts, scholars and policy-designers to attain an alternative critical perspective for unders