Volume 23, Number 4, April 2014

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Volume 23, Number 4, April 2014

Global politics

State-building in Afghanistan: mission accomplished?

Rob Murphy

After 13 years in Afghanistan, British troops are preparing to come home. In December 2013, David Cameron stated that they could come home knowing it was ‘mission accomplished’. It’s a phrase that politicians are normally wary of, ever since President George W. Bush claimed the same of America’s mission in Iraq just months after the invasion in 2003, only for US troops to remain in Iraq for a further 8 years.

So, was Cameron right to claim mission accomplished? What has been achieved in Afghanistan since international forces intervened in 2001 to oust the Taliban (the Islamic fundamentalist movement that was harbouring Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda terrorist network)? And what conclusions can be drawn about state-building missions for the future?

State-building can be defined as the construction of a functioning state by building legitimate political institutions capable of upholding the rule of law, delivering public services and internal security, and fostering a sense of common identity and unity.

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