Afghanistan – The International Community at the Crossroads?

TitelAfghanistan – The International Community at the Crossroads?
Typ der PublikationBook
Untertitel / SerientitelIssue of S+F. Sicherheit und Frieden. Security and Peace
AutorInnenEhrhart, H-G, Kästner, R, Münch, P, Maaß, CD, Lindner, R, Gross, E, Sedra, M, Gareis, S, Wagner, C
Series EditorEhrhart, H-G
BandS+F. Sicherheit und Frieden. Security and Peace, 28th Volume 4-2010

When NATO started its engagement in Afghanistan with the International Stabilization Assistance Force (ISAF), the centre of gravity of its activities focused on the stabilisation of the country, the built-up of security structures, and the provision of a secure environment for reconstruction. Today the international community is confronted with a completely different situation due to an insurgency movement gaining strength since 2005. Meanwhile the stabilization operation has mutated into a form of war called counterinsurgency or COIN. This kind of war has usually resulted in defeat for the external powers since the end of the Second World War As a consequence some states have started to pull back their military engagement, while others have increased their force level. At the London Afghanistan conference on 28 January 2010 the international community promised an increased civilian engagement as part of a new approach to deal with the Afghanistan issue. At the same time international aid organisations complain about the escalation of fighting. On the one hand, the heads of state and government confirmed at the NATO summit of Lisbon on 19 and 20 November 2010 their determination for a sustainable engagement in the country, on the other hand they agreed on the year 2014 as the date for transferring full responsibility for security to the Afghan government without stating precisely, however, what that means. Meanwhile one realisation is undisputed: After more than nine years of engagement in Afghanistan since 9/11, the international community is at a crossroads. Can new concepts of counterinsurgency and of a comprehensive approach pave the way out of the menace of failure of Western intervention or is the end of militarily backed liberal democracy promotion and state-building in sight?These two questions mark the frame of analysis of this special issue of S+F.
All in all, the ten contributions to this journal give a rather sceptical view of the situation in Afghanistan. In addition, they emphasize that there is not only a lot of research on this country and the region but also about fashionable concepts such as counterinsurgency, security sector reform, comprehensive approach, and stabilisation of fragile states. Hence, the international community seems to be at a crossroads not only in Afghanistan.

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