Obama Administration (and B Thesis

Pages: 9 (2475 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Terrorism

¶ … Obama Administration (and B. Obama as well in his presidential campaign) announced that in terms of foreign policy, one of the main priorities of this administration is going to be Afghanistan. This implies an extended and overarching approach aimed both at providing the appropriate internal security environment for this country and at creating a stable country in a strategic location. Apart from the supplementary military effort that the Administration has announced, the construction will need to continue in terms of building the institutions in Afghanistan and in creating the appropriate rule of law and democracy environment.

However, the first movement that will need to be accomplished is going to be that of sending in more troops. The Taliban insurgency has grown in the last month and the Taliban have managed to gain back some of the areas in the country. At the same time, these is an environment where terrorist activities are fostered, along with those going on in neighboring Pakistan. It is obvious that a credible finality of this campaign will need to cover all these aspects.

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This paper will aim to place the current conflict in Afghanistan in a wider perspective, both historically and temporally, but also regionally and in terms of the international political scene. Some of the international relations theories that will be used to explain the conflict in Afghanistan will include Huntington's clash of civilizations and the containment of Russia theory. The conclusions will be aimed at drawing a relevant final explanation of the development of things in Afghanistan, following arguments in favor of all the different scenarios described in the paper.

II. Historical background to the conflict

Thesis on Obama Administration (and B. Obama as Well Assignment

The Soviet invasion of 1979 was actually preceded by a period of time during which both the U.S. And the Soviet Union were supporting various political groups fighting for power. With Hafizullah Amin overthrow of Nur Mohammad Taraki, the Soviets moved both to ensure stability at the southern border of the Soviet Union, but also to fight against the anti-Communist insurgency that was financially backed by the United States.

For an understanding of the United States's response, one needs to understand the global ideology during the 1980s. The Soviet Union and the United States were in a continuous struggle to split the world into different spheres of influence. For this reason, the factions that internally struggled for power were financed by the two superpowers. In the case of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion and the establishment of a puppet government meant that the U.S. would have to support any forms of resistance to the establishment of a Communist government in Afghanistan. These were the mujahideen, who were armed against the Soviet invader. The cooperation between the U.S. And mujahideen resistance lasted throughout the 1980s.

The retreat of the Soviet army from Afghanistan in 1989 marked a victory for the United States, but at the same time left Afghanistan in a state of unstable ruin, with many of the intellectuals having already fled to other countries, the infrastructure destroyed and the institutional void created a fight for power that saw the Taliban gaining more and more power, until they had gained Kabul and about 95% of the country by 1994.

The presence of the Taliban in power in Afghanistan had several contradictory aspects. On one part, the Taliban regime ensured the political stability that was so much needed, both internally and externally. At the same time, some of the measures that their government applied targeted the poppy and opium production, almost eradicated during their time in power, and, in general, were focused on providing a better security environment in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the Taliban regime proved to be one of the worst human rights violators at the end of the 20th century. Basing their doctrine on a radical interpretation of the Koran, the Taliban cruelly imposed rules such as forbidding women to attend school or to work. Further more, the Taliban regime fostered numerous extremist Islamic groups, including al-Qaeda.

III. Situation after September 11

With the September 11 attacks, the United States started the war on terror, which implied that a campaign against potential places that harbored terrorists or where terrorists used these countries as training grounds and organizational support places. Afghanistan was obviously targeted because the Taliban regime had never made a secret out of the fact that al-Qaeda cells had used Afghanistan as their training and recruiting area and that the Taliban regime had probably cooperated closely with al-Qaeda on different issues. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this explanation seems very real and plausible. However, other theories were used to explain the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, all tied into greater regional and global perspectives and political interests.

One of these was provided by Huntington in his Clash of Civilizations the Remaking of World Order. The thesis of his book proposes the idea of potential future conflicts between the Western world and the Sinic/East Asian and Islamic civilizations. The conflict with the Sinic civilization will not make the object of this paper. However, as far as the Islamic civilization is concerned, Huntington investigated the evolution of Islamism, including of radical Islamism, whose increasing popularity created, in his opinion, fundamentalist currents in countries like Iran.

Afghanistan during the Taliban regime fits very well with this perspective and the September 11 attacks would come as an additional argument towards a support of the Islamic clash with the Western civilization. However, nowadays, in 2009, this perspective tends to be somewhat nuanced. One should re-emphasize the fact that this is most likely a theory that could well stand ground in 2001, but not in 2009. With the new Obama administration in power, one sees an opening towards the Arab and Muslim world from the United States. One of the first calls that president Obama made after his inauguration on January 20 was to the moderate Arab states in the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan) and to the President of the Palestinian Authority.

Further more, one sees a constant opening in the policies of the new administration in Washington towards the Muslim states and an encouragement of dialogue with these countries. Syria, once placed on the axis of evil and isolated after the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister, R. Hariri, has now been the object of several visits from U.S. officials, including the chairman of the Senate Foreign Policy Committee, J. Kerry, and the acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, J. Feltman. The Syrian officials have been constantly encouraged to move away from Iran and place its interests with the Arab moderate states in search for a viable and sustainable regional solution.

Not in the least Iran was also the aim of the same openness approach. While clearly stipulating that no concessions would be made on several issues of importance, such as the nuclear activities in Iran, the Obama administration have also shown they are willing to pursue a policy of dialogue with Iran as well. With these examples, one should actually wonder whether the clash of civilizations theory that Huntington put forward was something valid only throughout the Bush administration and, as such, a theory with a very limited temporal validity.

Coming back to Afghanistan, the U.S. intervention there can probably also be explained through the regional perspective and theories. On one hand, the presence in Afghanistan of a Taliban government could potentially harm U.S. interests in the extended Middle East region, especially through the nearness of Afghanistan to oil fields in that region. At the same time, it could also become an instability spot for Central Asia and other parts as well.

At the same time, another theory could argue intervention in Afghanistan from the perspective of containing Russia. While this theory was probably not valid at the time of the intervention, in 2001, it could probably become more and more valid now. In 2001, then President Putin had only just assumed power and he had only begun his campaign to increase Russian prestige in the world by resuming some of the bullying practices that the Soviet Union had used in the past. With oil and gas prices on the rise, he was able to use much of the Russian resources as an important source of leverage to promote Russian interests abroad. In August 2008, Russia intervened militarily in Georgia, an event that had not occurs since the intervention in Afghanistan, in 1979. This new Russian approach might have to be contained, through a similar policy as that that was used during the Cold War.

Such a theory would imply that the U.S. would try to support friendly, allied regimes in countries bordering the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan would be one of them. This would retain Russia from overextending its position of strength in other parts of the world.

One can wonder to what degree this is a theory that can be argued after the first months of the Obama Administration. Vice-President Biden was pretty clear about "pressing the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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