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Trust is the Coin of the Realm: Lessons from…

Trust is the Coin of the Realm: Lessons from the Money Men in Afghanistan

by Edwina Thompson

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199062986, Paperback)

Following a new US administration entering office, and revision of strategies for international support to Afghanistan, this book fills an urgent gap in the debate on how to make a 'bottom-up' approach to state-building work. Academic, press and policy accounts suggest the current 'top-down' paradigm is inappropriate to the task; none, however, appears to offer the kind of rigorous insights necessary to understand why.

Based on extensive field and archival research into the workings of 'hawala' - an ancient financial system operating throughout the Muslim world which is accused of bankrolling the bulk of today's terrorist operations, but is central to development in fragile states - this book shines a rare light on local-level institutions in Afghanistan and tribally controlled areas of neighbouring Pakistan.

Important dynamics emerge around the legitimacy of externally-imposed change in complex humanitarian and stabilisation environments; the bargain of foreign aid and financial regulation; and the challenge of how to reconcile broad models of state-building with specific and unique contexts. Parties with the strongest hand are proven to be those typically considered to lie at the margins: they are most able to accrue legitimacy and, by association, the trust of the local population.

The book indicates that the future reconstruction of Afghanistan hinges on whether the international community can engage genuinely with indigenous socio-economic networks like those of the 'money-men', for it is trust that emerges ultimately as the 'coin of the realm', not only in the money bazaar, but also against the backdrop of counter-insurgency and state-building efforts within the region.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:06 -0400)

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