Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE




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Noah Coburn’s “Connecting with Kabul”

By Mac McCallister | Published: May 27, 2010

Read Noah Coburn’s Connecting with Kabul.  The information contained in this report is invaluable for the practitioner of population-centric COIN looking for insights into the importance of local patronage networks in Afghanistan. While Coburn’s work focuses strictly on Afghanistan, similarities in patterns of social networking behavior can be found in other traditional societies.

I personally witnessed many of the same characteristics highlighted by Coburn in the patronage networks of the Anbar tribal awakening movement while serving as the Tribal Advisor to the Multi-National Forces-West in 2005-2007.

Coburn explains:

  • Afghan parliamentarians are first and foremost members of local patronage networks, which include formal and informal leaders.
  • Patronage networks in rural Afghanistan are not strictly resource or service providers. They are also about social relationships and religious obligations and reinforced through marriage, business, friendship and other social and economic ties. The emphasis in patronage networks is on personal relationships rather than on legal-rational, bureaucratic authority.
  • The local patronage network judges its representatives on their ability to provide for resources from the national government and the international community. (more…)
Posted in Agora


AgoraAn Interview with an Afghan Tribal Chief

Interview With A Tribal Chief Update

By Steven Pressfield | Published: May 27, 2010

“Interview with a Tribal Chief” is one series  that ran on the “It’s the Tribes, Stupid” blog. It featured interviews with Chief Ajmal Khan Zazai.

Freerange International has a report up about Chief Zazai being ambushed by Pakistani Taliban this past week. (more…)

Posted in Agora, An Interview with an Afghan Tribal Chief



The Reality

By Mac McCallister | Published: May 12, 2010

Reality in Afghanistan (or in any other country for that matter) isn’t a template of do’s and don’ts. Reality is something that military units and the local inhabitants in specific areas create for themselves.

I recently read a number of manuscripts by the constructivist scholar Alexander Wendt.

The takeaway from Wendt’s work?

The only reality that exists is the one we socially construct for ourselves and others of like mind.

There exists no one reality that can be accessed through empirical research. And, we can’t be sure that the reality we observe exists independently of our observation of it. All human associations, social identities and the interests of purposive actors, are continually shaped, and guided primarily by shared ideas and biases. Furthermore, all relations are socially constructed and given form by social practices and interactions.


Posted in Afghanistan, Agora
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