Over the past few months, the Obama administration has been grappling with questions about the nature of the enemy in Afghanistan and the best way to fight the war there. As the administration prepares to announce its revised military strategy, we are pleased to bring you a selection of articles from the Foreign Affairs archives to show how these questions have been addressed in the past.
"Report From Afghanistan." By Claude Malhuret. Foreign Affairs 62, no. 2 (1983/84): pp. 426-35.
"Afghanistan: The Accords." By Rosanne Klass. Foreign Affairs 66, no. 5 (1988): pp. 922-45.
"The Taliban: Exporting Extremism." By Ahmed Rashid. Foreign Affairs 78, no. 6 (1999): pp. 22-35.
In 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan to prop up its struggling communist government. Four years later, they were bogged down in a quagmire. Noting that the world's largest army had not yet been able to overpower a "handful of people standing tall against the invader," Claude Malhuret wrote that the Soviets' problem was their approach to counterinsurgency: as long as they neglected to win over the population, they would never succeed. Indeed, by 1988, Moscow was ready to capitulate, and Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Soviet Union, and the United States came together to sign peace accords. Reporting on the agreement, Rosanne Klass predicted that if the Soviets kept their word and withdrew, the Afghan regime would fall. When the Soviets did pull out a year later, the move ushered in almost a decade of civil war, which ended with the Taliban capture of Kabul in 1996. The Taliban's radicalism and connection to Arab extremists troubled Ahmed Rashid. He predicted: "Afghanistan's chaos will only spread. Terrorism will develop new adherents there. The drug trade will expand. These are costs that no country -- not Afghanistan, the United States, its allies, China, or Iran -- can hope to bear."
"A Flawed Masterpiece." By Michael E. O'Hanlon. Foreign Affairs 81, no. 3 (2002): pp. 47-63. "Our Man in Kabul: What Hamid Karzai's Rise to Power Means for How He Will Govern Now." By James Dobbins. ForeignAffairs.com, November 4, 2009. "A New Model
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