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The snake oil of stabilisation? Explaining the rise and demise of the comprehensive approach

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The snake oil of stabilisation? Explaining the rise and demise of the comprehensive approach

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Following the withdrawal of large scale military contingents from Afghanistan and Iraq, enthusiasm in the Western world for what has been called armed state-building seems to have sunk to an all-time low. This is not entirely surprising given the high stakes and the meagre results of the massive efforts by American, European and other military personnel and civilians in the wake of forced regime change in these countries in 2001 and 2003. As a result, the so-called comprehensive approachthe NATO-concept for integrating military and civilian efforts in post-intervention stabilization effortshas also lost much of its shine. This concept emerged in recognition of the fact that such operations required concerted efforts of a variety of state and non-state organizations. In this sense, the comprehensive approach was the organizational vehicle to engage with and influence the existing post-conflict economic, political and social structures and processes in failing and fragile states. Treating the concept in a broader historical context, this chapter sketches and explains its roots, rise and the early signs of demise. It argues that it is justified to question many of the assumptions underlying the recent idealistic interpretations of comprehensive approaches and to criticize the actual levels of civil-military integration in Afghanistan. It also acknowledges the inevitability, given current threats and a loss of appetite for counter-insurgency and state-building, of a shift of focus to conventional warfare and waging ground wars by proxy. However, like US institutions in the wake of the Vietnam Warwe run the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater if we do not continue to build on past mistakes, thereby shaking of the naivety of the post-9/11 era and anchoring the many lessons that were learned. After all, the type of conflict we get embroiled in is mostly not of our own choosing.

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OrganisatieNederlandse Defensie Academie
Gepubliceerd inNetherlands Annual Review of Military Studies 2017. Winning Without killing: the strategic and operational utility of non-kinetic capabilities in crises / Editors: Paul A.L. Ducheine and Frans P.B. Osinga T.M.C. Asser Press / Springer, The Hague, Pagina's: 67-89
Jaar2017
TypeBoekdeel
ISBN9789462651883
TaalEngels

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