Jonathan Mendel

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December 14, 2010

Afghanistan, Networks and Connectivity: journal article

I'm pleased that my article on Afghanistan, Networks and Connectivity is now out in Geopolitics:

Afghanistan is often thought to be a failed state because it is isolated from the networks of globalisation: for example, Afghanistan is viewed as part of Thomas Barnett's Non-Integrating Gap. On the contrary, the article will show that Afghanistan has - for decades - been very much integrated into a range of international networks. These networks have played major roles in Afghanistan and have also spread to have significant impact across the world: offering an example of what Friedman has referred to as the flattening of the world. Afghanistan is thus an example of the substantial role which networks and connectivity can play in 'failed' states and of the unpredictable outcomes that can result from such networks.

I think the article, sadly, remains quite relevant. In particular - with the assumption that Afghanistan has failed to connect with the networks of globalisation still common - I'd argue that it's important to emphasise how effectively many networks linked to Afghanistan have functioned and continue to function. While the UK's Defence Secretary Liam Fox infamously described Afghanistan as a "broken 13th-century country", I feel that it's important to focus on some of the ways in which Afghan networks are working (albeit in ways that have negative effects on many Afghans).

As I argue in the article (drawing on James Sidaway's work), it is not helpful to view Afghanistan as a failed replica of a Western state model. Instead, it's important to consider what these networks and this connectivity are able to do and what effects they might have in the future.

Posted by jon_mendel at December 14, 2010 06:57 PM

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