Discussion Paper - International Security Program, Belfer Center

NATO in Afghanistan: Democratization Warfare, National Narratives, and Budgetary Austerity

| December 2013


This paper explains changes in NATO's nationbuilding strategy for Afghanistan over time as an internal push-and-pull struggle between the major NATO contributors. It distinguishes between he "light footprint" phase, which had numerous problems connected to limited resources and growing insurgency (2003–2008), NATO's adoption of a comprehensive approach (CSPMP) and counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy (2009–2011), the transition and drawdown (2011–2014), and the Enduring Partnership (beyond 2014). The paper explains NATO's drawdown, stressing both increased budgetary strictures compelling decisionmakers to focus on domestic concerns nd predominant national narratives connected to a protracted stabilization effort in Afghanistan. The United States provided constant pressure for NATO to develop integrated civilian-military capabilities and implement a security-development-governance strategy. It was supported by he United Kingdom, which sought to maximize its political influence, and Poland, which saw NATO as an insurance premium. Germany long resisted the idea of participating in a war-like effort, while France resisted NATO becoming a toolbox for Washington's broader strategic purposes. NATO's internal decisions reveal a pattern of negotiated power and predominant national narratives affecting economic cost-benefit calculi.

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For Academic Citation: Larsen, Henrik B. L.. “NATO in Afghanistan: Democratization Warfare, National Narratives, and Budgetary Austerity.” Discussion Paper, 2013-10, International Security Program, Belfer Center, December 2013.

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