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The foreign policies in the United States have been very influential in shaping the activities that the country has had in the global context. In relation to the relation that the USA has with Afghanistan, various factors have built the shape of the relation. The fact that the US is the main controller of the world by having an economy with a GDP of $14 trillion which is a quarter of the global GDP and military expenditure which accounts for 43% of the global military expenditure (Jarecki, 2008). The policy (that the relations which the US has with external world) is aimed at optimizing the realization of a more secure, prosperous and democratic world to benefit America and the international world are very critical. It has shaped the Afghanistan- American relations. It is in this context that this paper aims at clarifying the relation between the two countries by revisiting main events in Afghanistan starting with the soviet invasion in the country all the way to the American invasion after the September 11.
Historical Background to the Conflict
Soviet Invasion – 1979
It was in 1979 that Afghanistan hit the headlines when it seemed to be perfectly being on the verge of summarizing the cold war in a very perfect manner. This was yet another country that had communism running in its veins just as had been witnessed in Berlin, Cuba, Hungary and in Korea (Amstutz, 2004). Being a country that was deeply rooted in Islamic beliefs, communism was a very different path for the politics of the country. As a matter of fact, it was as a result of the communistic approach that characterized Hazifullah Amin government that led to vey harsh opposition form the people led by the religious leaders in the country (Saikal, 2006). The communist government led by Amin had so much in opposition to the Islamic movement which was the main reason as to why by the time the Soviet was invading Afghanistan; many religious leaders had been arrested by Amin’s government while many more had fled the town to find refuge in the mountains.
By this moment, the Mujahdeen which was simply a guerilla movement that aimed at overthrowing the communist movement had established itself in the country as the main opposition force to Amin’s government. Consequentially, the religious leaders backed their support to the Mujahdeen which then declared a jihad on all the supporters that Amin had. This was inclusive of the Soviet that had just invaded the country claiming to be on an invite from Amin’s legitimate government. It was not long before the Russians had Amin shot in December the same year 1979 and was immediately replaced by Babrak Kamal (Lansford, 2006). Amin had maintained his power mainly due to the fact that he had depended heavily on the military support that was offered to him by the Russians. Despite having soldiers in Afghanistan close to 85,000 who were in support of Amin’s power, the Mujahdeen still proved to be too tough to be handled lightly by the Soviet (Covarrubias, 2009). The fact that the Mujahdeen were well equipped with knowledge around the Afghanistan Mountains and the weather conditions plus the fact that they had old riffles and strong religious will to propel them made it very hard for the Soviet despite being better equipped in terms o the military equipment they used.
By the year 1982, Mujahdeen was controlling a large 75% of the Afghanistan population which was a very successful turn of events for them (Wilson, 2007). They were overwhelming the Soviet army which till then was considered as the second most destructive in the world. As a matter of fact, many Soviet soldiers were now being forced to abandon the Soviet military and troop their support to Mujahdeen. America had been very cautious as to the means by which they intervened in the war that was already proving a lost battle for the Soviet who still insisted in continuing to contribute to the loss of lives and economic strength of both Afghanistan and the Soviet. America only did stop exporting grain to the Soviet, ended the SALT talks that were in progress and also boycotted the Olympics Games which were to be held in Moscow in the year 1980 (Curtis, 2010). It was through Mikhail Gorbachev that the Soviet finally resigned from the battle and actually saved the Soviet from the humiliation and the dying economic progress that they had harshly faced.
American Response – Supporting the Mujahdeen
As a major response to the invasion of the Soviet in Afghanistan in 1979, Carter and Reagan both in their different terms in power rallied their forces behind the support for Mujahdeen. As an effort to offer the best aid to the Afghans against the claws of the Soviet invaders, the USA government came together with some government agencies to offer aid in terms of funds and other different means to the Mujahdeen. While on the other hand the Soviet treated and even referred the Mujahdeen as a terrorist’s gang, the US government saw it as the only gate pass through which Afghanistan could effectively handle its political crisis. As a government, the United States government directly intervened in the war by supporting the Mujahdeen through offering it the access to surface to air missiles that belonged to the American force. Although this was not at all a direct sales movement, it had a very huge impact on the counter reaction that the Afghanistan forces used in response to the high tech military base that had been set by the Soviets (Ateneo Center for Asian Studies. 2004).
As a means of supporting the Mujahdeen, the United States also had a very direct method in which it involved in strategic public rebuking of the actions that were done by the soviets in Afghanistan. America publicly did stop exporting grain to the Soviet, ended the SALT talks that were in progress and also boycotted the Olympics Games which were to be held in Moscow in the year 1980 all as means to offer negative reinforcement forces to the Soviets as this would indirectly ensure that the Mujahdeen forces faced the Soviets as a stronger side (Cathal, 2007).
On the other hand, other bodies also supported the Mujahdeen although under the umbrella offered by the US. This type of support to the Mujahdeen was mainly experienced from the Afghanistan Relief Committee and the Committee for a Free Afghanistan. The Afghanistan Relief Committee was mainly established with the prime purpose of raising money that could be used to treat the casualties that had emerged form the war and strictly being part of the Mujahdeen military group. Although it did this indirectly by having different medical groups receiving money to offer the medical services to the Mujahdeen soldiers, the Afghanistan Relief Committee was a massive source of help to the Mujahdeen as the casualties were treated and then quickly rejoined their colleagues back to the forests (Kelley, 2007).
The Committee for a Free Afghanistan was founded in the year 1981 as a dedication that was aimed at helping build stronger the support that the United States of America had offered to the Mujahdeen. The Committee for a Free Afghanistan began its mission in a very humble manner by organizing for conferences alongside other events which played a crucial role in helping organize the US in supporting the cause by the Mujahdeen (Mirza, 2010). Also in the support for the Mujahdeen in the war against the Soviets, the Committee for a Free Afghanistan was very critical by offering financial assistance to all the seven groups of Mujahdeen.
Soviet Withdrawal – 1989
It is recorded that the Soviets withdrawal from Afghanistan began as early as the year 1985 although the process that was used to execute the process was too slow and took a longer process than it was earlier thought. The slow process was mainly attributed to the fact that Kabul was a hindrance to the peace mission the time he was in power. Immediately he was sent out of office in the year 1985 and Mikhail Gorbachev took over immediately, his main targets was to have the war ended and recall back the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. Although the decision to remove the military from Afghanistan was made as early as October in the year 1985, the journey that was started by Mikhail was long and a painful one. The real timetable that was to be worked with in removing the Soviets from Afghanistan was formally made in 1987 and the public announcement of the commencement of the exit of the Soviets form Afghanistan was made right in February the following year (1988).
The beginning of an exit by the Soviets occurred in May of the year 1988 although the complete withdrawal was realized in the second month the year 1989. The withdrawal of the Soviets from the land of war where with each rise of the dawn they seemed to be the inevitable losers was a lengthy process mainly due to two basic reasons. The very first reason was that of the cold war. Withdrawal from the country could be termed as a humiliation to the Soviet government and even the citizens. On the other hand, also, it is appreciated that the withdrawal of the Soviets from the Afghanistan territory would result in very harsh relations between the two countries after the war. Sensing the dander that was involved in such an incidence, the Soviets opted to first of all have the forces that were in Afghanistan involved in peace making exercise. The soldiers from Soviet were busy making reconciliatory missions with the people of Afghanistan. They did this just as a measure of caution against the effects that would come afterwards as a consequence of the intervention that they had made in Afghanistan.
They avoided any retaliation from Afghanistan after they had withdrawn from the country. These two main reasons are taken as the explanation to the delay that the Soviets had in withdrawing form the coveted war that they terribly lost despite being tagged as the second most dangerous country in terms of military force by the time. Despite the fact that the military groups from the Soviet were withdrawing from Afghanistan having sought for reconciliation, it was reported that the Afghanistan fighters still subjected them to war even on their way out of the country. As a consequence of this, a total of 523 soldiers from the Soviet were killed during the withdrawal period (Hilali, 2005). The withdrawal though came to a conclusion as noted above on February, 15, 1989 as a result of the Geneva accords that had been formally signed ten months prior to the time (Williams, 2006). In formally and symbolically concluding the withdrawal, the late General Boris Gromov became the last individual to walk form Afghanistan headed to the Soviet.
Rise of the Taliban – (1994 – 2001)
The rise of the Taliban has been as a result of different events and situations ever since the movement was formed in the year 1994. Between the year 1993 and 1994, Perves Musharraf who was deemed to be the future president in Pakistan played a very vital role in seeing the group develop. By then, he was in charge of the military operations hence had a lot of influence and experience in as far as being one of the brains behind the development of the militia group. Coupled with the fact that he was an open supporter for Osama bin Laden, Perves Musharraf began to plot the war against the Indians in Kashmir (Maley, 2009). It was in the midst of this war that Perves Musharraf came to the realization that the Taliban had a very effective fighting strategy and will. Alongside other important players in the field, Perves Musharraf establishes the support for the Taliban forces that were in different places of the country imposing their control.
The period between the years 1994 and 1997 saw the United States of America take a massive step in gunning up for support towards the Taliban’s rise to power (Nojumi, 2004). Speaking in more accurate terms, the period between 1994 and 1996 was a very bright period for Taliban as they enjoyed massive political support from its political allies who were Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The support that was rallied behind Taliban so that it could enhance its control in most parts of Afghanistan was as a result of ensuring that the United States protected the anti-Shia ideologies that were propagated for by the Taliban. As a matter if fact, Taliban was further devoted in ensuring that the pro-western ideologies were enhanced among the people of Afghanistan and it was as a motivation to maintain this position that the United States opted to offer their support. The period between the years 1995 and 1997 saw the relationship between America and Taliban take a new twist when the motives for support form the United States to the latter change. The support for Taliban even got more backing due to the fact that US was now backing the pipeline project (Barth, 2004). Despite the monetary help that was offered by the United States it is very important to note the help that the CIA offered Taliban during its initial stage of development. The CIA was very effective in ensuring that at the time that the Taliban was formed, it remained equipped adequately with military machinery (Goodson, 2007).
September 11, 2001 and the American Invasion
The war in Afghanistan can be said to have began formally in the year 2001 on October 7. The war was motivated by the September 11 attacks and it acted as a response so as to eradicate the terrorism acts that had been pioneered by the Al-Qaeda movement in Afghanistan (Maley, 2008). The armed forces from the United States began the Operation Enduring freedom in collaboration with forces form the Afghan United Front and the British armed Forces with the prime goal of ensuring that the Al-Qaeda movement is completely dismantled and eradicated form Afghanistan where it has used as its base for perpetrating terrorist activities. These events also came with a new twist on the American view of the Taliban force as it now had the goals of ensuring that it removed Taliban from power and establish a more liberal and democratic government.
Although as is indicated that the main reason as to why the Americans invaded Afghanistan was in response to the September 11 attacks other reasons also existed for this. The first strategic reason was the assassination that took place two days before the attack was made where an anti-Taliban leader was killed together with the over 3000 lives that were lost during the attacks (Romano, 2006).
The very first mission that was accomplished when the US invaded Afghanistan in company of the two main assisting forces that had been mentioned above was the removal of the regime by Taliban from power. This was effectively done leaving most of the Afghanistan free of the Taliban control that was already become deadly for human life (Tarzi, 2009). America was now removing from power the people that it had helped gain and maintains power. It was as a result of this sudden twist in events that the Islamic republic of Afghanistan was placed in power democratically as it was involved in the political voting that saw the people of Afghanistan vote for the Hamid Karzai to power in the year 2004. Te high levels of success that the United States was having in eliminating the Taliban from power was due to the strong statement that had been issues by the George W. Bush administration which had made it clear that they would go ahead and treat similarly, the theorists’ groups together with the nations that harbored them (Jones, 2008). Afghanistan had to change its political regime to avoid facing more aggressive military combustion from the USA.
This was a positive improvement in the lives of most of the Afghans as the democratic government was now able to effectively build structures to better various sectors of the economy such as health, education, agriculture, transport and construction. It was due to this positive impacts of the American invasion in Afghanistan that over 5 million expatriates that had fled away from the country during the Taliban era came back to deliver their services back to their own mother land (Bick, 2009). In the year 2009, Obama administration decided that it would be very effective in ensuring that it deployed more forces to Afghanistan in an effort to completely kill terrorism form the face of the globe. This has been of late followed b more soft terms as the government is promising to withdraw all its forces in the year 2014 having completed its mission of eradicating terrorists from Kabul (Arnold, 2005). The trend that eh invasion has taken is purely similar to the one that was experienced by the Soviets in Afghanistan although the USA has been able to impose its military authority over the Taliban hence emerging from the country as victors.
Levels of Analysis
The analyses that can be adequately used to explore the relation that the American government have had with Afghanistan according to the analysis done in the paper are mainly the realism theory and the liberalism theory (Kakar, 2007). As is constructed by the two theories, governments across boarders are likely to either stay as single entities without having to intervene in each others affairs or even keep on cooperating and forming alliances that are purely meant to offer positive impacts on the nations. The two theories actually form the basis that the relations between Afghanistan and the United States have been having for a period now.
Useful Theory to Explain the Conflict
The liberal theory offers the real platform where the relations that the US has had with Afghanistan can be appropriately placed. As a matter of fact, it is very true that the two nations have been in collaboration with each other for the benefit of both of them or even the benefit of one of them. This is exactly what is described as characterizing liberal theory. Nations cooperate to help each other (Girardet, 2005).
It is more than clear that the United States is a real capitalistic world whose relation with the global environment is aimed at optimally realizing its goals. This can be seen in the continual shifting of goal posts by the US in relation to the leadership in Afghanistan depending on its effects to the US. This is evidently proving the fact that the liberal theory is very definitive of the American relation with Afghanistan.