The “narrow corridor” approach Why nation-building failed in Afghanistan

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Daron Acemoglu


In viewing nation-building as a top-down, “state-first” process, the Author argues that US policymakers were following a venerable tradition in political science - if you can establish overwhelming military dominance over a territory and subdue all other sources of power, you can then impose your will. According to the Author, in most places, this theory is only half right, at best; and in Afghanistan, it was dead wrong. As the Author argued, together with James Robinson in their 2019 book, The Narrow Corridor, this approach makes no sense when your starting point is a deeply heterogeneous society organized around local customs and norms, where state institutions have long been absent or impaired. The point stressed by the Author is that the successful centralization of power under state institutions more commonly involves the assent and cooperation of the people subject to it. In this model, the state is not imposed on a society against its wishes; rather, state institutions build legitimacy by securing a modicum of popular support.

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Come citare
Acemoglu, D. (2022). The “narrow corridor” approach: Why nation-building failed in Afghanistan. Power and Democracy, 4(2), 36–38. Recuperato da
Sezione Monografica