War on Terror - Afghanistan Thesis

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War on Terror - Afghanistan

Introduction / Thesis

The Afghan people have been subjected to hostile takeovers and cultural disruptions for centuries, so the invasion by the Soviet Union in 1979 and the subsequent seizing of power by the Taliban are not new dynamics in this ancient land. The Taliban were driven out after 9/11 but are now resurgent; the Afghan border with Pakistan is where Taliban fighters get their training and their marching orders. The new U.S. president has signaled a shift away from Iraq and is reportedly sending 17,000 or more troops to Afghanistan. This paper posits that the U.S. cannot "win" the war in Afghanistan because there are simply too many young Muslim men around the world who already despise America, who train on the Pakistani - Afghan border areas, and are easily radicalized and brought in as suicide bombers or fighters with no fear of death. American public opinion will eventually grow weary of another endless war and President Obama will see the futility of the U.S. engagement in Afghanistan.

TWO: Brief History of Unwelcome Intrusions Into Afghanistan

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According to the official Web site for Afghanistan (www.afghanistans.com),Alexanderthe Great conquered Persia and Afghanistan between 330 BC - 323 BC. In 400 AD the White Huns destroyed Buddhist culture and "left most of the country in ruins." The Mongol Invasion of Afghanistan - led by Genghis Khan - took place in 1219-1221, and in 1504-1519 the Moghul Dynasty, led by Babur, used Kabul as the base for his subsequent "conquest of India..." Between 1826-1839 Dost Mohammad took control of Kabul and Afghanistan that precipitated the first "Afghan War"; it was fought between the British and Afghans (in 1838-1842). The British installed their "puppet king," Shah Shuja.

THREE: Explanation of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Thesis on War on Terror - Afghanistan Introduction / Assignment

David N. Gibbs writes in the journal Critical Asian Studies that the Soviet incursion was a "watershed event" in the "delegitimizing" of Soviet policy. The Soviets conducted a provocative invasion of a sovereign state for several reasons, Gibbs explains; one, the Soviets feared that since Afghanistan was on their border, the U.S. Or other western nations might "...establish bases in the area" (Gibbs, 2006) which would threaten the U.S.S.R.; and two, a coup took place in Afghanistan in 1978, led by a communist-led group called the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA); the Soviets supported PDPA against a subsequent mujahideen threat, Gibbs writes, and the Soviets saw an opening for their communist ideology.

The PDPA instituted "sweeping reforms" that were designed to "mobilize the landless poor" and fragment the "traditional social and economic structures," according to David Seddon in the journal Critical Asian Studies (Seddon, 2003). The PDPA challenged Islamic values and tried to change the religious culture but those reforms were met with "widespread opposition," Seddon writes on page 190. In February 1979, "extreme left-wing Afghans" assassinated the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs, and President Jimmy Carter authorized secret military support to PDPA's main opposition, the mujahideen (Seddon, p. 190).

According to Seddon, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was worried about the U.S. support for the mujahideen so he sent in Soviet troops and MI-24 helicopter gunships and captured Kabul in December 1979. In response to the Soviet invasion, Islamic rebel forces - the U.S. referred to them as "freedom fighters" - came from other countries to join in the insurgency against the PDPA (Seddon, p. 190). Money and military supplies to support the freedom fighters came from Iran, China, the U.S., Pakistan and other gulf states; interestingly Osama bin Laden was among the Islamic volunteer fighters that eventually pushed the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan (Seddon, p. 191).

That said, former CIA chief Charles G. Cogan asserts that reports of bin Laden acting as a big hero in the battles against the Soviets are false; bin Laden "came very late" into the war - participating in one battle only - and that the Taliban was "a post-war phenomenon...created initially as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Pakistani ISI" (Cogan, 2008).

Author Mohammed Kakar - who was a professor at Kabul University and present in Kabul at the moment of the Soviet takeover / coup - writes that in 1977, two years prior to the Soviet invasion, then president Daoud was "increasingly annoyed" by the "clandestine activities" the Soviets were engaged in (Kakar, 1997, p. 14). Daoud approached Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev to protest the Soviet support for the PDPA and the obvious increase in Soviet materials coming into his country. But Kakar goes on, "Brezhnev, in their last official meeting in the Kremlin in April, 1977, lectured him" as to why Afghanistan had welcomed into the country representatives of the UN, NATO, and "other multilateral aid projects" (Kakar, 14). So it is obvious that the growth of Soviet influence was not the brainchild of Daoud, who was "killed, as were eighteen members of his family," Kakar writes on page 15 of his book. Daoud was tortured, castrated and hung from a light pole in downtown Kabul, Kakar explained.

Meantime, the Soviets lost as many as 85,000 troops and the Afghans lost an estimated 1.3 million fighters in the carnage following the invasion, Seddon continues on page 191. The Soviets retreated in 1989, but that was only the beginning of a period of serious infighting by "a dozen factions" - including some U.S. supported regional warlords and other Islamic groups - tearing each other and the nation apart, Seddon explains on 192. This fractionalizing led to regional fighting until January 1994 the "Northern Alliance" - a group of mujahiddin who had killed President Najibullah following the demise of the Soviets - took over Kabul and "the international community swept into Afghanistan to provide humanitarian assistance" (Seddon, p. 193). By 1996, with the help of Pakistan, the Taliban had come to power in Afghanistan and instituted their radical policies of Islam; indeed, the Taliban soon welcomed bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists to set up training camps for jihads against the U.S. And other Western nations (Seddon, p. 193).

In terms of solving some of the questions about Afghanistan it is important to understand "mujahideen"? An article in the journal International Peacekeeping (Bhatia, 2007) goes into detail about the "contested interpretation" of mujahideen; Malali Joya, a member of the Afghan Parliament refers to the mujahideen as "blood-sucking bats" and "criminal warlords" whose hands are "stained with the blood of the people' (Bhatia, p. 95). Bhatia points out that at one time the "real mujahideen" were identified as fighting the jihad against the Soviet incursion. And after the Soviets exited in 1989 and through 1992 the mujahideen were still seen as "true combatants" pursing a "true jihad"; however after that period, reportedly "new young boys" were recruited to carry on the fight against the Taliban, but they were motivated more by money and "position" than by ideology (Bhatia, p. 96).

FOUR: Rise of the Taliban - Who are the Taliban?

Before being pushed out of power following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001 - perpetrated by bin Laden-trained terrorists in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan - for five years the Taliban's strict control of Afghanistan had included a very tough and fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.

In a book called Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace (Johnson, et al., 2004), the authors, who were in Afghanistan at the time the Taliban took over Kabul, describe the "key image of the Taliban occupation of Kabul" that got the most international coverage in the press. The "mutilated body of [President] Najibullah," with "banknotes stuffed into his mouth," was strung "from a lamp-post on one of the central intersections of the city."

In his book, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, author Ahmed Rashid writes that many of the young militants in the mid-1990s "who gathered around the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar were the children of the jihad who were "deeply disillusioned with the factionalism and criminal activities" (Rashid 23) of the once-respected Afghanistan government.

They saw themselves as the cleansers and purifies of a guerrilla war gone astray," Rashid writes; they also saw themselves as liberators of "a social system gone wrong and an Islamic way of life that had been compromised by corruption and excess."

Indeed, still on page 23 of his book, published in 2000, Rashid explains that even though many of the younger Taliban in the mid-1990s "barely knew their own country or history" - since many of them had been born in refugee camps in Pakistan - from their "madrassas" (seminaries teaching extremist version of Islam) they learned "about the ideal Islamic society created by the Prophet Mohammed 1,400 years ago and this is what they wanted to emulate."

There are those who say the Taliban choose Omar as leader "not for his political or military ability, but for his piety and his unswerving belief in Islam" (Rashid 23). Interesting, isn't it, that for a person in a position of great political power like Omar, devotion to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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