Bleeding for the Village: Success or Failure in the Hands of Local Powerbrokers   [open pdf - 718KB]

From the thesis abstract: "This thesis observes that in most Afghan villages there is a prominent member who acts as the village leader in the village 'shura' (council of respected leaders) and 'jirgas' (council of elders, tribal leaders, lineage leaders, or heads of families). In all cases, the leader is a man. In some cases, he may be the current tribal elder, or he may be a former mujahedeen fighter. Because these men wield the influence necessary to gain villagers' general acceptance of the coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan, I assert that they are the most important societal elements to win over. It is upon these leaders, or 'local powerbrokers' (LPBs), that this thesis focuses. The same need for allegiance is true for the Afghan government as well: To gain the support of local communities in the current fight against the Taliban, the central government in Kabul must first gain the support and involvement of local leaders. But as Joel S. Migdal points out, there may be conflicts between the empowering of local strongmen and building a state institution. If local powerbrokers get too strong for the government to handle, it can lead to the state's demise. In this thesis, I assert that empowering local powerbrokers is a risk that must be taken if peace on terms acceptable to the global community has any chance of success."

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