Inescapable Entrapments: Dutch and British Decision Making in Afghanistan

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Lt Col Mirjam Grandia Mantas’s study re-evaluates the role of the military in foreign policy by comparing the decision-making processes behind British and Dutch military action in Afghanistan. It draws on more than 100 interviews.

This event is the second in a series of monthly lectures and panels as part of RUSI’s new Military History Programme. Lt Col Mirjam Grandia Mantas will speak about her recently published book, and this will be followed by questions and discussion.

Nick Reynolds opens the discussion with his own experience in the British Army in Afghanistan. Professor Michael Clarke, who has written a Whitehall Paper on the Western interventions in Afghanistan, chairs the event. 

Military involvement in foreign policy decision-making, and its role as a driving force in that process, has long been anathema to both academic and practitioner circles. Without wanting to pursue the quest for principles or ultimate predictions, this study looks specifically into the role of the military in foreign policy decision-making. It does so by carefully reconstructing and comparing the series of decisions made by a group of British and Dutch senior civil and military decision-makers which led to the deployment of their militaries in the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Uruzgan.

One of the most prominent findings of this analysis is the shaping ability of military initiatives on the series of decisions and the consequent path-dependent reasoning during political deliberations on the deployment of military forces. The decision of the UK and the Netherlands to deploy their troops to southern Afghanistan was based on an emergent case that largely built itself.

Watch the event recording


Lt Col Mirjam Grandia Mantas is Assistant Professor of International Security Studies at the Netherlands Defence Academy and a commissioned officer serving in the Royal Netherlands Army. In her military career she has been deployed on various missions to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

Chair: Professor Michael Clarke is a Distinguished Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute. He was Director-General of RUSI from 2007 to 2015, when he retired from that role. He was previously the founding Director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London, and then Deputy Vice-Principal and Director for Research Development. He is a specialist adviser to the Joint National Committee on Security Strategy for the period of the current Parliament.

Discussant: Nick Reynolds is the Research Analyst for Land Warfare at RUSI. His research interests include land power, wargaming and simulation. He served in the British Army in Afghanistan.

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