e-book release: Snapshots of an Intervention. The Unlearned Lessons of Afghanistan’s Decade of Assistance (2001–11)

July 9, 2012

The idea for this volume was born in the summer of 2010 during a discussion of the cyclical nature of many of Afghanistan’s programmes. Years of following the international efforts had left us with an increasingly strong sense of déjà vu: another conference to demonstrate momentum, another strategy to surpass the ones before, another project that would come and go and be forgotten the moment its progress was no longer being reported on, only to resurface in a new guise a little later.

The edited volume ‘Snapshots of an Intervention’ consists of 25 articles by analysts and practitioners with long histories in the country and who were closely involved in the programmes they describe. The contributions present a rare and detailed insight into the complexity of the intervention in Afghanistan – including the often complicated relations between donors and representatives of the Afghan government (with projects tending to be nominally Afghan-led, but clearly donor-driven), the difficulties in achieving greater coherence and leverage and, in many cases, the widely shared failure to learn the necessary lessons and to adapt to realities as they were encountered.

Download full document (2,08 MB):

Snapshots of an Intervention. The Unlearned Lessons of Afghanistan’s Decade of Assistance (2001–11)

Download individual chapters:

0. Acknowledgements, Foreword, Introduction, Overview – Martine van Bijlert

Part I. Building Political Institutions

1. The Failure of Airborne Democracy: The Bonn Agreement and Afghanistan’s Stagnating Democratisation – Thomas Ruttig

2. The Emergency Loya Jirga: Hopes and Disappointments – Anders Fänge

3. The 2004 Presidential Elections in Afghanistan – Scott Seward Smith

4. External Voting for Afghanistan’s 2004 Presidential Election – Catinca Slavu

5. Toward a More Effective Parliament? The UNDP/SEAL Project – Marvin G Weinbaum

6. A Plan without Action: The Afghan Government’s Action Plan for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation – Sari Kouvo

7. A Brief Overview of the Afghanistan Stabilisation Programme: A National Programme to Improve Security and Governance – Shahmahmood Miakhel


Part II. Strengthening the Security Forces

8. Early ISAF: ‘The Good Old Days’ – Steve Brooking

9. The Afghan National Army: Marching in the Wrong Direction? – Antonio Giustozzi

10. 20–20 Hindsight: Lessons from DDR – Eileen Olexiuk

11. The Afghanistan Public Protection Programme and the Local Defence Initiatives – Mathieu Lefèvre

12. Building the Police through the Focused District Development Programme – Joanna Buckley

13. Private Security Companies in Afghanistan, 2001-11 – Steve Brooking


Part III. How the Aid Architecture Worked

14. The Early Aid Architecture and How It Has Changed – Anja de Beer

15. National Prestige is Big – Even for Small Countries – Ann Wilkens

16. Throwing Money at the Problem: US PRTs in Afghanistan – Nick Horne

17. The ‘Subnational Governance’ Challenge and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance – Hamish Nixon

18. Urban Recovery, or Chaos? – Jolyon Leslie

19. Questioning the NSP: Agency and Resource Access in Faryab Province – Jennifer McCarthy

20. Capacity Building in MRRD: A Success Story – Frauke de Weijer

21. Trophy Libraries and Strategic Opacity: Information Management Challenges in the Afghan Legal Sector (2004-11) – Royce Wiles

22. An Afghan Population Estimation – Andrew Pinney

23. Beyond the Value Chain Model: Deconstructing Institutions Key to Understanding Afghan Markets – Holly Ritchie

24. Crop Substitution and Narcotics Control, 1972-2010 – Doris Buddenberg

25. Settling for Nothing: International Support for Anti-Corruption Efforts – Heather Barr

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Against the Wall – An Afghan Evacuation Story – Part 1

Against the Wall – An Afghan Evacuation Story – Part 1

On Aug 15th, the day Kabul fell to the Taliban, Basir and his family made their first attempt to get into the airport and onto a plane. It would be nearly a month before they escaped into Pakistan. Over the next weeks they would be beaten at Taliban checkpoints, endure crushing crowds and be threatened and sworn at by soldiers from around the world.

CSFilm Benefit Screening – Brattle Theater, Cambridge MA – Oct 18th

CSFilm Benefit Screening – Brattle Theater, Cambridge MA – Oct 18th

A Special Benefit Screening for Community Supported Film’s Fund for Afghan Evacuation and Resettlement:

Far from Afghanistan (2012), dirs. John Gianvito, Soon-Mi Yoo, Jon Jost, Minda Martin, Travis Wilkerson

Monday, October 18, 7PM at the Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138


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