This paper analyzes how foreign military interventions affect community cohesion in times of conflict. In an environment where formal institutions are unstable or lacking, the community and local informal institutions become more important for households to cope with various shocks. At the same time, the success of foreign interventions crucially depends on cohesion within communities as they are relevant partners in counterinsurgency and reconstruction activities. I exploit a geographic regression discontinuity for the case of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The findings suggest that the presence of foreign military forces negatively affects community cohesion. Households receive less help from others in their community and are less likely to participate in or rely on local community councils. These effects seem to be driven by a general erosion of trust.
JEL Classification: O53
Keywords: Afghanistan, Conflict, foreign military interventions, informal institutions, security missions, social cohesion