I’ve been avoiding a question ever since I started Book Diplomacy that I get quite often “What do I think about Afghanistan”?
I think the Bush administration made the right move in invading Afghanistan following the September 11th attacks. The error which given the circumstances is inexcusable is in failing to understand the history and culture of Afghanistan. If they had studied either they would’ve understood how illogical imposing the Western conception of heavily centralized government on Afghanistan was.
Afghanistan is a heavy fractionalized, tribal, society that in my view needs something approximating mixed sovereignty-where the centralized authority has authority over things like international affairs, defense, and global trade, while allowing local leaders control over local and regional matters.
We are not going to blast Afghanistan into a modern democratic state, no matter how many guns or bombs we have. Our best hope for victory may be for Afghanistan may be for the average Afghan to say that America left it better than they found it. Right now, I don’t know if anyone can say that given the ramped corruption of the Karzai government and anger over NATO’s night-raids. Opium is the most profitable economic item within the country and there’s a remarkably stubborn insurgency movement there.
Is Afghanistan better with Karzai and American troops or the Taliban…that question should be fairly easy to answer…but I’m very much afraid what will happen to the good Afghan people when we do leave. Do they form a country or descend into warlordism? The thought keeps world leaders up at night, I’m sure.