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Making the Afghan Civil Military Imbalance Conducive to Democratization

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Journal Article

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In-conflict state-building in fragile states such as Iraq and Afghanistan, defined as building effective and legitimate civilian and military state institutions to advance the stabilization and democratization of the state,1 creates unbalanced civil-military relations in the host state by producing weak and dysfunctional civilian institutions vis--vis relatively stronger and more functional military institutions. This imbalance positions the military to become a dominant political actor in state formation upon the withdrawal of the international military presence. This can have significant implications for the political trajectory of the state. The civil-military gap is a reflection of the asymmetric nature of state-building progress in the context of state failure building civilian institutions cannot match the trajectory of progress in building military institutions. This is in large part due to four crosscutting drivers, introduced below, that condition the timelines of progress in the civilian and military state-building tracks differently. Once the host state is in charge of its own affairs, the political risks of the civil-military imbalance will assert themselves the military, still in an early stage of professionalization and confronted by weak civilian institutions, will become a politicized and dominant actor in the continuing state formation process. The political prospects of the state will become highly dependent upon the political role of the military and its relationship with the civilian elite.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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