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Failed Statebuilding

Failed Statebuilding: Intervention, the State, and the Dynamics of Peace Formation

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 296
  • Book Info
    Failed Statebuilding
    Book Description:

    Western struggles-and failures-to create functioning states in countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan have inspired questions about whether statebuilding projects are at all viable, or whether they make the lives of their intended beneficiaries better or worse. In this groundbreaking book, Oliver Richmond asks why statebuilding has been so hard to achieve, and argues that a large part of the problem has been Westerners' failure to understand or engage with what local peoples actually want and need. He interrogates the liberal peacebuilding industry, asking what it assumes, what it is getting wrong, and how it could be more effective.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-21013-2
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. viii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION: The Limits of Peacebuilding and Statebuilding
    (pp. 1-30)

    The lesson of the last twenty or so years of intervention to build a liberal peace and the modern state is that great plans often go awry. Historically, ‘from Plato to NATO’, intervention has tended to result in relatively poor quality forms of peace. The era of liberal peace after the Cold War rapidly turned into an age of intervention, and perhaps a parallel age of resistance. Peacebuilding, statebuilding, modernisation and development represent heuristic, scientific and political processes of intervention conducted by the global North’s dominant states and its institutions, often aimed at the global South, conflict-affected or developing, countries...

  7. I The Legacy of State Formation
    (pp. 31-61)

    The concept of the state has always been flexible, as the word itself suggests (a ‘state’ among many possible ‘states’ and forms). The view that it indicates fixity of a sovereign and Westphalian sort following a Weberian perspective, which translates into a dominant, realist concern with power, security and territory, has a vice-like grip over IR and political science more generally. It represents the convergence, arising from nineteenth-century European politics, of a model of bureaucracy, intervention and the control of populations through the state, which would enjoy high concentrations of capital and thus the means of coercion.² This model was...

  8. II Statebuilding: Failed by Design
    (pp. 62-102)

    In 2011, a UNDP report stated that one-quarter of the world’s population still live in ‘fragile states’, and so placed ‘statebuilding’ at the forefront of international relations. Statebuilding represents an attempt to make the whole world subject to an ideal, modern political order, in which a strong state provides law, order and accountability to its citizens.³ Even so, historically there have been many different types of state-polity, ranging from federations and confederations to condominiums and protectorates, and various ways of organising territory and democracy. In modernity, however, states are expected to conform to a set of common standards while enabling...

  9. III Liberal Peacebuilding
    (pp. 103-132)

    State formation focuses on violent indigenous processes that lead to the creation of a state that represents powerful interests often influenced by regional factors. Statebuilding mainly offers a modernisation-oriented response to these dynamics in the context of the construction of the neoliberal state via externalised strategies of intervention and conditionality. Thus, problems with local autonomy and local legitimacy soon arise. State formation represents liberal peace as being constantly threatened by local conflicts, statebuilding plays a disciplinary role in countering them via the development of a neoliberal state, and peacebuilding provides a liberal normative framework in which the individual is positioned...

  10. IV The Dynamics of Peace Formation
    (pp. 133-172)

    Localised practices of peace formation are complex, often dialogic, expressions of critical agency aimed at ending cycles of state formation, often where more formal peace processes have entrenched them. International- and national-level peace agreements, peace processes and progressive reforms have little meaning unless they can be contextualised across an array of identity, institutional, legal and material platforms. Using local, subaltern agency, they may also modify the state and create transnational networks connecting with a range of internationals. They offer the possibility of a positive form of hybrid peace. This potential is now widely noted in the academic¹ and policy² literature...

  11. V Peace Formation versus Intervention
    (pp. 173-199)

    There are three sites or levels of peace and progressive politics, with differing norms, identities, institutions and types of power: the local and everyday, the state, and the international system. Aligning these, deciding which should lead, coordinating their complementary roles, resolving their tensions and dealing with the various aspects of conflict, requires an agreement on the nature of everyday peace, progressive politics, the state and the international. This is the key to a positive hybrid peace, which includes contextual resonance, reform, and equity across local and international scales.

    All too often, high-level talks between leaders or warlords over territory and...

  12. CONCLUSION: International Peace Enablement
    (pp. 200-231)

    Peacebuilding and statebuilding have been contaminated by mainstream state-formation theory’s negative view of local agency, its fear of ungovernmentality and by external interests, norms and preferences. As a result, they veer towards trusteeship and counterinsurgency approaches. Local subjects of intervention quickly identify this tendency of the heuristic rule of experts who exercise locally unaccountable power. They may even begin to ‘outgovern’ and coopt external actors, as has occurred in Kosovo and Afghanistan.¹

    Realist state-formation arguments have strongly influenced modern peacebuilding and statebuilding praxis. They have positioned the state as the anti-liberal site and also the neoliberal outcome of violent contestation...

  13. Appendices
    (pp. 232-235)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 236-256)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-271)
  16. Index
    (pp. 272-276)