Afghanistan: The History of State Formation

A Valhalla of the anti-Soviet liberation war: The Jihad Museum in Herat was founded in 2010 by Ismail Khan. In doing so, the energy minister in the Karzai government and former provincial governor monopolized national tradition and at the same time set a sign of West Afghan statehood.
Build: AP

State-building in Afghanistan has not failed. On the contrary: the Taliban have developed their own statehood, like the big city dwellers and the local warlords before them. The West didn’t see its chance in this game. A guest post.

In the chorus of voices trying to justify the failure of Western engagement in Afghanistan, one only hears a few who explain what is actually being fought over in the Afghan war, which will soon be fifty years old. People are content with the idea that there are freedom fighters and freedom enemies in Afghanistan. These two roles remain, only the actors change. In chronological order, the role of enemies of freedom was occupied by the kingdom, the republicans, the socialists, the mujahideen, the warlords and finally the Taliban; Republicans, mujahideen, the Northern Alliance and currently the new resistance front were considered freedom fighters. Even royalty in the early 1960s, and in the eyes of some enthusiasts even the Taliban, could slip into the role of bringers of freedom.

This scheme is repeated in the current propaganda of the Afghan parties to the dispute: both the Taliban and the New Resistance Front (NRF) under Ahmad Ziya Massoud claim to be fighting against the enemies of freedom and for the Afghan nation. However, one searches in vain for structural conditions in Afghan society that could justify this juxtaposition of friend and foe. On the other hand, the scheme radically simplifies the complexity of the multi-level conflict that has emerged since the late 1960s. So it offers a seemingly plausible formula to justify interventions.

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