Thesis: Afghanistan War

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Afghanistan War

From all appearances U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is going to take a different direction in the 'war on terror' due to the administration change in Washington, D.C. most recently. It has been signaled by the Obama team, at least rhetorically speaking that they will scale down the 'war on terror' in Iraq in favor of redeploying thousands of U.S. troops to Afghanistan. To the extent that campaign promise become a reality, this work will use the theories of realism, liberalism or that which is believed to be the best choice in explaining the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.

Statement of Thesis:

Realist theory best explains the foreign policy of the United States in Afghanistan following the events of September 11, 2001.

Historical Background

The war in Afghanistan began October 7th 2001 under the name 'Operation Enduring Freedom' and was launched as a response to the attacks of September 11th 2001. The reason stated for this war was to locate Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda members and remove the Taliban regime from power in Afghanistan. The history of the United States in Afghanistan began much earlier however than 2001. The United States is stated to have historically begun its influence in Afghanistan before the 1979 Soviet invasion.

It is stated in the work of Ahmed (2001) entitled "Afghanistan, the Taliban and the United States: The Role of Human Rights in Western Foreign Policy" that Brezenski stated as follows: "We actually did provide some support to the Mujahedeen before the invasion."

"We did not push the Russians into invading, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would."(Ahmed, 2001)

Brezenski is stated to have bragged that "...secret operation was an excellent idea. The effect was to draw the Russians into the Afghan trap. In other words, the U.S. appears to have been attempting to foster and manipulate unrest amongst various Afghan factions to destabilize the already unpopular Communist regime and bring the country under U.S. sphere of influence. This included the recruitment of local leaders and warlords to form mercenary rebel groups, who would wage war against the Soviet-backed government, to institute a new regime under American control." (Ahmed, 2001)

Russia intervened in December 1979 in order to "reinforce its hegemony over Afghanistan" due to the attempted destabilization of the United States in its infiltration of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union having anticipated this on the part of the United States launched a "full-fledged invasion to keep the country under its own sphere of influence." (Ahmed, 2001)

The United States then is stated to have "...in collusion with Pakistan's leaders took abusive advantage of the opportunity so as to exploit it fully and by all manner of means to their own and exclusive legitimate benefits and objectives..." (Ahmed, 2001)

Those objectives were stated as:

(1) to rule out the creation of any responsible and independent Afghan organization among Afghans, interacting directly with Washington, to support Afghan resistance;

(2) to repulse the Red Army by using exclusively the blood of Afghans, and (3) to make of Afghanistan a satellite if not an integrated part of Pakistan in return for Pakistani leaders' services, but in complete disregard to Afghan people's sovereignty and sacrifices.

(Ahmed, 2001)

Following the Soviet's retreat from Afghanistan the Taliban arose to power and it is stated by Ahmed to have been funded by the CIA and in fact, the Taliban is stated to have not existed before October 1994. The result of these events in Afghanistan are stated by Ahmed to be that "post-Cold War Afghanistan has remained in a state of anarchical civil war up to this day, with the Taliban having emerged as the most powerful faction in the country by the mid-1990s." (2001)

Afghanistan is stated to be "plagued by a perpetual orgy of destruction, impoverishment and repression. Poverty is now endemic." (Ahmed, 2001)

Ahmed relates that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that Afghans by the millions "Have little or no access to food through commercial markets, just as their access to food through self-production has been severely undermined by drought." (2001)

Ahmed reports that the Taliban's rule of Afghanistan is likened to that of "an iron fist." (2001)

This is stated to be due to repressive policies and the "perpetration of countless human rights abuses." (Ahmed, 2001)

Ahmed states that it is easier to disseminate the motives of the Western world "when one recalls that it was the U.S. that originally trained and armed the faction in Afghanistan which now constitutes the 'leaders of Afghanistan." (2001)

Also clear is "the existence of an ongoing relationship between the United States and the Taliban" and although the U.S. "has denied any links with the Taliban" there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. (Ahmed, 2001)

Ahmed states that the former Department of Defense official Eli Krakowski, who had worked on the Afghanistan issue during the 1980s stated that Afghanistan is an important region to date since it is "the crossroads between what Halford MacKinder called the world's Heartland and the Indian sub-continent. It owes its importance to its location at the confluence of major routes. A boundary between land power and sea power, it is the meeting point between opposing forces larger than itself. Alexander the Great used it as a path to conquest. So did the Moghuls." (2001)

Afghanistan was "an object of competition between the British and Russia empires in the 19th century" as well as a source of controversy between the Soviet Union and United States in the 20th century. According to Ahmed (2001)

"...with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has become an important potential opening to the sea for the landlocked new states of Central Asia. The presence of large oil and gas deposits in that area has attracted countries and multinational corporations... Because Afghanistan is a major strategic pivot what happens there affects the rest of the world." Another reason that Afghanistan is a strategic region for the United States is that the cause of the establishment of the oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea via Afghanistan would allow for the bypassing of Russia. Ahmed notes that strategic interests appear to have motivated "the generally approving line that U.S. officials take toward the Taliban." (2001)

IV. September 11, 2001 and the American Invasion -- Examination of Theories

Liberalist Theory

The liberalist approach has as its focus "the development and maintenance of institutions, treaties and 'regimes' in fostering cooperation between nations." (Banuri, 2007)

The Constructivist approach is taken by Wendt (1992) in an attempt to understand cooperation between states and the contention of Wendt is that "there is interplay between institutions and processes that bring about outcomes." (1992) Wendt holds that the "evolution of relations between actors" is that which serves as the guiding principles" and that each state "gains its identity essentially through the perceptions of other states.' (Banuri, 2007)

International Political Economy Theory

The work of Markus Coleman entitled: "Fitting the Facts of Life into International Political Economy Theories: The Case of Afghanistan's Poppies" states that international political economy (IPE) "attempts to theoretically defined and explain how the interconnected and reciprocal relationships between political and economic forces, affected by domestic and international issues, determine the international system as a whole." (nd) Afghanistan is "one of the least developed countries in the world in terms of its economy, governance, infrastructure and the rule of law." (Coleman, 2007)

The international system "while upholding specific norms and rules that impact the activities of states" is under the power that multinational corporations exert and it is stated that "in this context, the effects of licensing poppy cultivation and the production of medicinal derivatives in Afghanistan have surely been assessed by the large pharmaceutical corporations in the U.S.A., Australia, France, Japan, and the UK." (Coleman, nd) These pharmaceutical MNC hold a "virtual monopoly on morphine and codeine production, hence, they control the whole value chain of the opium poppy." (Coleman, 2007)

Marxist IPE Theory

The focus of Marxist IPE theorists is on the "role of capitalist elites, and how the international system is not primarily determined by state policies or by international organizations, as assumed by the realist and the liberal, respectively but instead statism is rejected by Marxist theory which has as its focus "the significance of class." (Coleman, nd) the Marxists theory holds that the greatest determination of the dynamics of the international system and structure "flow from the self-serving and exploitative policies of transnational capitalist elites." (Coleman, 2007)

Realist IPE Theory

The realist IPE theorists argue that "in reality the only obstacle to Afghanistan's implementation of such a plan is its relative, and at the moment absolute, weakness on the international playing field." (Coleman, 2007) the assertion of realism is that "the paramount variable determining the political and economic policies of states, and by extension the international system in genera, is their strength relative to other states." (Coleman, 2007)

Realist Theory

The work of Banuri (2007) entitled: "Cooperation Theory and Terrorism"… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Afghanistan War.  (2009, October 11).  Retrieved May 24, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/afghanistan-war/872615

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"Afghanistan War."  Essaytown.com.  October 11, 2009.  Accessed May 24, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/afghanistan-war/872615.