What Democracy for Afghanistan? An Analysis Utilizing Established Norms and Five Non-Western Case Studies

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Charles L. Barry and Samuel R. Greene

Well into its eighth year, two assumptions about the conflict in Afghanistan have become accepted wisdom. First, the goals of Afghanistan and its international supporters cannot be achieved by military force alone; effective, civilian-directed elements of power are also needed in abundance. Second, both the political goal of establishing a viable democratic government and the military objective of defeating the Taliban and other insurgents may have to be more modest than heretofore declared. This study examines the stated goal of creating basic democratic or participatory governance in Kabul in light of internationally accepted measures of success and five possible models from the developing world. It concludes with findings and policy recommendations to help answer the important question being asked by leaders and policymakers: what type of government is possible in Afghanistan?