How do warlords survive and even thrive in contexts that are explicitly set up to undermine them? How do they rise after each fall? Warlord Survival answers these questions.
Drawing on hundreds of in-depth interviews and many months of fieldwork conducted in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2018, the book investigates how warlords survive and even thrive in contexts that are explicitly set up to undermine them.
Departing from dominant normative ways of looking at warlords, I show that these astute political entrepreneurs combine and convert different forms of power to adapt to new environments. They maintain authority despite massive state-building efforts, offering durable and flexible forms of power in unstable, violent environments.
Warlord Survival explains why external efforts aimed at building Western-like institutions are doomed to fail in fragmented, patronage-based societies, where personal relationships and patrimonial networks often trump institutional arrangements.
“Warlord Survival is given heft by the richness of the data, the care with which the data has been curated, and the way in which it has been combined with potent sociological insights. This book will acquire a cherished place on the bookshelves of security and development professionals.”
– Jesse Driscoll, University of California, San Diego, author of Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States
“Romain Malejacq has written an excellent study of considerable importance, sophisticated and accessible. It significantly advances our understanding of the problems that international actors have encountered in trying to promote new political structures in Afghanistan since 2001.”
– William Maley, Australian National University, author of Transition in Afghanistan