A bleak prediction for the stability of Afghanistan and Iraq

Perfect Storms? Political Instability in Imposed Polities and the Futures of Iraq and Afghanistan

From: Journal of Conflict Resolution

How stable will the new democratic political systems be in Iraq and Afghanistan? This analysis offers a grim prognosis for domestic peace in these post-invasion states.  Some theorists look to the successes of the post–World War II democracies and market economies in West Germany and Japan as models of political development, other experts argue the differences between the past and present are too great to adopt the same approach. In addition, the large number of causal forces, such as militarily aggressive neighboring states, a faltering economy, and the presence of the imposing state, hinder domestic stability in Afghanistan and Iraq. This research examines the political challenges and offers policy insights.

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What explains variation in domestic political instability in polities imposed by foreign powers? We formulate a framework grounded in four sources of political instability in imposed polities: (1) the initial conditions under which a polity is imposed, (2) policy choices made by the imposer, (3) the prevailing domestic conditions within states hosting the imposed polity, and (4) the international environment within which the host state is embedded. Employing a sample of ninety-four imposed polities during the period 1816—1994 to test expectations from the framework, we find, in part, that ethnoreligious heterogeneity coupled with democratic institutions, preimposition military defeat, colonial experience, dissimilarity of neighboring political institutions, hostility from neighboring states, and the presence of the imposing state each stimulate political instability. The analysis suggests a bleak prognosis for domestic peace in postinvasion Afghanistan and Iraq as the causal factors that militate against domestic stability are manifold and likely reinforcing.

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Article details:

Title: Perfect Storms? Political Instability in Imposed Polities and the Futures of Iraq and Afghanistan

Authors: Andrew J. Enterline & J. Michael Greig

From: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 52, No. 6, 880-915 (2008)

DOI: 10.1177/0022002708323796

First published: December 2008

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