Conflict and Security
peacebuilding, conflict, peace, war,
Countries and regions:
The Western-led efforts to establish a new post-Taliban order in Afghanistan are in serious trouble, and in this book Astri Suhrke sets out to explain why. She begins with the dynamic of the intervention and its related peace-building mission. What were the forces shaping this grand international project? What explains the apparent systemic bias towards a deeper and broader international involvement? Many reasons have been cited for its limited achievements and ever-growing difficulties, the most common explanation being that the national, regional, and international contexts were unfavourable. But many policies were misguided, while the multinational operation itself was extraordinarily and unnecessarily complex.
The main thesis of When More is Less is that the international project itself contains serious tensions and contradictions that significantly contributed to the lack of progress. As a result, the deepening involvement proved dysfunctional: massive international support has created an extreme version of a rentier state that is predictably weak, corrupt and unaccountable; US-led military operations undercut the peacebuilding agenda, and more international aid and monitoring to correct the problems generate Afghan resentment and evasion. Continuing these policies will only reinforce the dynamic. The alternative is a less intrusive international presence, a longer time-frame for reconstruction and change, and negotiations with the militants that can end the war and permit a more Afghan-directed order to emerge.
‘When More Is Less is a work of erudite scholarship and a must read for policy makers and students of Afghanistan seeking answers to the question, “How did it come to this?” Suhrke effectively highlights the tensions and fundamental contradictions inherent in the competing objectives of waging war and building peace, in particular because the short-term tactical needs of the former consistently trump and undermine the longer-term processes needed to achieve the latter. Her refreshing thinking and analysis convincingly makes the case that the structural contradictions and tensions inherent in the “international project” in Afghanistan meant that “the systemic bias towards deeper and broader involvement,” whether in the form of surging troops and civilian advisors or more aid dollars, exacerbated these tensions — and that less would have indeed been more.’
— Andrew Wilder, Director, Afghanistan and Pakistan Programs, United States Institute of Peace
‘In this exhaustively researched book, Astri Suhrke provides a trenchant and persuasive account of the evolution of Western peace-building and state-building in Afghanistan since 2001, and of the dynamic of deepening engagement in the face of disappointing results. It is essential reading for scholars, foreign and defence policy practitioners, and the informed public.’ — S. N. MacFarlane, Lester B. Pearson Professor of International Relations Oxford University
'Astri Suhrke has produced a brilliant expose of the failure of international efforts to construct a stable post-Taliban order in Afghanistan. Her analysis is to the point and very balanced, and her conclusions very instructive. She tells us very convincingly why and where the international involvement has gone wrong, and what would be an appropriate strategy for the international community to adopt. Her book deserves to be read as widely as possible.' — Amin Saikal, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University
'When More is Less is a timely, lively, and dispassionate investigation into the causes and consequences of the disappointing modern history of peacebuilding in Afghanistan. As someone who has been involved with Afghanistan for over two decades, and has studied various UN interventions in places like Kosovo and Rwanda, Astri Suhrke is well positioned to use her tremendous knowledge to sort through these critical issues — and suggest not only how things might have been different in Afghanistan, but also how things can be different the next time the international community undertakes a peacebuilding project.' — Michael Barnett, University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science, George Washington University
'The failure of the international coalition in Afghanistan is a major event that we still have to cope with. Astri Suhrke's book is a first solid step towards understanding the internal contradiction between the liberal project of the "international community" and the rational of the U.S. military on the ground.' — Gilles Dorronsoro, visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
'Astri Suhrke’s book contains the pithiest description I know of where Afghanistan will be in 2014 –– if the self-deceiving spin of progress underway continues –– "a large number of men with arms, but weak institutions". She dissects, with an unblinking eye, how we got there, thanks to the stifling "military embrace" of Operation Afghanistan.' — Thomas Ruttig, Co-Director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, an independent Kabul-based think-tank
Peace Processes and Statebuilding: Economic and Institutional Provisions of Peace Agreements
Start: Mar. 2006 (Completed)
Geography: Afghanistan, Guatemala, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone
What Kind of Peace is Possible?
Start: Jan. 2005 (Completed)
Keywords: Peacebuilding DDR
Geography: Afghanistan Guatemala
The limits of state-building in Afghanistan
Start: Jan. 2005 (Completed)
Keywords: peacebuilding, post-conflict, afghanistan, reconstruction, statebuilding
Astri Suhrke (2015) in Internasjonal Politikk vol. 73 no. 1
Matt Waldman (2015) London: Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Research Paper, Asia Programme) 34 p.
Arne Strand (2015) Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Briefs no. Volume 14, no 2) 4 p.
Lena Jayyusi and Anne Sofie Roald (forthcoming)
Knudsen, Are, Sari Hanafi, Robert Flahive (forthcoming) in Arab Studies Journal
Kjetil Selvik, Bjorn Olav Utvik (2015) New York: Routledge (Routledge studies in Middle Eastern Democratization and Government)
Astri Suhrke, Mats Berdal (2012) London/ N.Y.: Routledge 335 p.
Ingrid Samset (2009) New York: Program on States and Security, Graduate Center, City University of New York (Synthesis Series) 11 p.
Astri Suhrke, Torunn Wimpelmann and Marcia Dawes (2007) World Bank and UNDP pp. 1-60
Political scientist focusing on the social, political and humanitarian consequences of violent conflict, and strategies of response.
After Violence: Transitional Justice, Peace, and Democracy
Elin Skaar, Camila Gianella, and Trine Eide (2015)
Å kamuflere en krig
Astri Suhrke (2015)
Tar Vesten ansvar for egne torturforbrytelser?
Terje Einarsen og Astri Suhrke (2015)
Human Security 15 Years after Lysøen: The Case against Drone Killings
Astri Suhrke (2014)