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Patronage Versus Professionalism in New Security Institutions

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Journal Article

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Barnard College New York United States

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Where do effective military and police institutions come from in a society that is not already based on the rule of law In particular, can informal militias based on patronclient relations be successfully reformed or integrated into professional and effective state security institutions We do not have good answers to these questions. Yet the United States and its allies are wrestling with them daily in many locations around the globe. My goal in this article is to examine what we do know about historical and recent situations that to some degree mirror these current challenges, and to draw out some unexpected practical suggestions about what might work on the ground. These questions originally grew out of my research on warlords. Warlords are individuals who control small pieces of territory through a combination of force and patronage, acting in defiance of genuine state sovereignty but with the collusion of weak states and their leaders. footnote 1 The relationship of warlords and their informal militias to state actors is bargained and based on personal ties. Warlord militias are not implacably hostile to the state or resentful of de jure state sovereignty over the territory where they operate. In most cases, state leaders have actually informally granted them de facto control over particular territories. This situation creates obvious challenges for internationally supported security sector reform efforts in places such as Afghanistan. footnote 2 But these questions have relevance beyond cases of warlordism, too.

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  • Government and Political Science

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