Make Sense of Afghanistan With Thomas Barfield

By: Thomas Barfield & Atul Singh

Afghanistan's US-installed democracy collapsed after 20 years of US-led modernization and reform attempts. 

Afghan history: No consensus in democracy, monarchy sought power, retained independence amid British influence.

Amanullah introduced reforms, faced civil war, unrest. Fled into exile, successors killed due to modernization attempt.

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Mohammed Zahir Shah became king, uncles held power. Regime stuck to tradition, peace for 50 years. 

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Daoud Khan's coup ended monarchy. He became president but seen as another king. Suppressed right-wing, ousted.

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Civil wars shaped Afghanistan, communists inspired by Amanullah, tried socialism, failed to impose order.

Brezhnev-led Soviet invasion in 1979. Ten-year war, one million Afghans dead. Najibullah's fate sealed in 1991.

Najibullah negotiated with mujahideen, ethnic power-sharing. Warlords took over, leading to savage civil war.

Chaos hurt mujahideen's image. Taliban backed by Pakistan took over. 9/11 led to US invasion, Taliban ousted.

US-created democracy: weak leaders, no people connection, corruption, misgovernance, disregard for popular support.

Afghanistan leaders ruled selfishly, siphoned foreign aid, corruption buying power or money, state left powerless.

Ghani's government failed post-US pull-out, Taliban swiftly took over, capturing cities, including Kabul effortlessly.

Afghan history: regime failure, easy takeovers, illusion of power. Despite instability, it endures without breaking up.

Afghanistan's culture: ethnicity and nationality differ, no urge for ethnic states. Analyzing Taliban's objectives.

Taliban's harsh treatment of women, strict separation, educated urban women resist their new norms.

Afghanistan's future uncertain. Crisis looming, food insecurity, regime's inability to cooperate, risking support loss.

Taliban support wanes, internal factions may emerge, women's issue and economic hardship could lead to divisions.