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Afghanistan's Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Talibanby Larry P Goodson
Synopses & Reviews
Going beyond the stereotypes of Kalashnikov-wielding Afghan mujahideen and black-turbaned fundamentalists, Larry Goodson combines Taliban interviews and field research with concise analysis to explain what has been happening in Afghanistan in the last twenty years, and why the future of Afghanistan matters.
As it has been through the ages, Afghanistan remains the vital crossroads connecting Central, South, and Southwest Asia. It is the linchpin to trade in the potentially oil-rich new states of Central Asia. The Taliban's role in exporting political Islamism adds fuel to an already incendiary situation in the region. All of Afghanistan's neighbors - Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, even Turkey and China, along with the United States - jockey to manipulate its internal affairs in their own interests.
Illuminating the myriad cleavages along ethnic, religious, social, and geographical fault lines, Goodson examines the devastating course of the Afghan war. He charts its utter destruction of the country, from the deaths of more than two million Afghans and the dispersal of some six million others as refugees to the complete collapse of Afghanistan's economy, which today has been replaced by monoculture in opium poppies and heroin production. The Taliban now uneasily control roughly 80 percent of the country but themselves show increasing discord along ethnic and political lines.
Can Afghanistan reemerge from its long war and be rebuilt as a stable nation-state?. Just as Afghanistan's neighbors and the United States helped to prolong its war, they now hold the key to its future peace and stability. While Goodson offers a comprehensive framework for understanding the most likely scenarios, only one thing is certain: what happens in Afghanistan will continue to affect stability and security in an increasingly important region of the post-Cold War world.
Book News Annotation:
Goodson (international studies, Bentley College) analyzes the civil wars that wracked Afghanistan throughout the 1990s, with a focus on the reasons for state failure in the Central Asian country. After looking at some of the factors that affected Afghanistan as the playing board of the imperial "great game" of Britain and Russia, he turns his attention to the Islamist rebellion against the Soviet-backed Najibullah regime. Here, he ignores the role of the United States in fomenting the destabilization of Afghanistan with imported Islamist rebels, repeatedly implying that the mujahedeen were a purely local institution. He then recognizes that the civil wars that broke out among the former U.S.-backed warlords sounded the death knell for hopes of a stable government until the Taliban swept into the vacuum of power. The chapter on the future of Afghanistan is necessarily dated because of its inability to foresee the U.S. attack on the country and the subsequent installation of the government of Hamid Karzai.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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History and Social Science » Asia » Afghanistan