Deconstructing Afghanistan: How Does America's Past Inform Afghanistan's Future? Taliban Political Reconciliation, Historical Comparison with American Civil War, Security and Economic Factors
This excellent report, professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, suggests a path for Afghanistan's post-2014 future based on the post-Civil War experience of the US South. More
This excellent report, professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, suggests a path for Afghanistan's post-2014 future based on the post-Civil War experience of the US South. A comparative history of both societies reveals the common presence of three foundational traits: highly differentiated class structures, ethnically and economically diverse societal mosaics, and a belief in peripheral and societal autonomy. I assess the prospects for either renewed civil war or stable peace in Afghanistan after US and coalition military forces complete their withdrawal. The study concludes that Afghanistan's fate rests with the Afghan people and not the international community, despite the weight of effort expended by the US and coalition nations since October 2001.
Furthermore, regardless of the near universal assumption by pundits, politicians, and academics, this comparison with the South after April 1865 suggests that a significant possibility exists for political reconciliation with Taliban leaders, sustained peace, and stable, albeit slow, economic growth. Secondary findings suggest that Afghanistan's historical existence as a rentier state will persist at least through 2025; social modernization efforts imposed by external influence, including gender equality, are likely to regress in future years; and the vast economic disparities resident in Afghan society will persist indefinitely.
The author uses analogy to examine the US intervention in the South Asian nation. Analogy is thought's constant handmaiden. It shapes decisions at every turn, individually and collectively, from crossing the street to going to war. Some analogies have attained legendary status in national security decision making: Western acquiescence to Adolf Hitler's demands in Czechoslovakia instructs policy makers to engage early in budding international disputes, and American experience in Vietnam has taught three generations of military officers to conduct military campaigns aggressively. Not all smaller problems become larger ones, however, and not all aggressive combat succeeds, so analogy must be used carefully for it to enrich rather than impoverish decision making. The particular weight analogy plays in decision making is a function of numerous variables, including the complexity of the problem, perceived similarities between past condition and present circumstance, the proximity of past events to the present, and the stakes involved in the decision—and policy makers are wise to weigh each as they look to the past to shape the present and chart the future.
In the present work, Greene finds wanting the common analogies, particularly the Vietnam analogy, used to inform debate on the United States' role in Afghanistan. Instead, he establishes a benchmark that both better fits and more accurately informs: the American experience following the Civil War from 1865 to 1877, known as the Reconstruction Era. For 12 years, former Union states cajoled, threatened, and sweet-talked former Confederate states as together they rebuilt societies torn by war, a process marked by both success and failure. Building upon similarity between nineteenth-century Union and twenty-first-century American circumstances, as well as commonalities between Confederate and Afghani conditions, Greene argues the future of American intervention in Afghanistan is fraught with peril but not doomed to failure. He concludes that leaders in both Washington and Kabul must understand the limits of remaking society from afar and calibrate international ambitions with Afghan political topography because moderate objectives stand a far better chance of success than does transformative policy.
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