In this week readings, I was very interested in Andrew Hartman’s The Red Template, and the lack of foresight on the part of the United States. During the soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it was the Islamic fundamentalist mujahedeen that the US used as proxies to fight the USSR. Why would they do this, when they knew from experience that these groups weren’t specifically anti-Soviet, but anti-western. It was these same types of groups that overthrew the shah in Iran, so why not try to limit their involvement? And why was not help given to them after the fighting? All of these decisions, in my opinion, were negligent and shortsighted. The way Afghanistan was used then discarded by the US has had massive repercussion in the region, from indirectly creating the Taliban all the way the Islamic State. A quote from this reading sums it up nicely:
“It was a morale boost that Muslims of the world had not experienced in quite some time. Afghanistan became a launching pad for jihad worldwide, and the USA, with its overreaching geopolitical goals, became the target.”
Afghanistan cannot the only county that has had this fate. How many other parts of the Middle East have been affected because of the cold war? Iran is definitely one of them, along with Egypt.
But enough with the negativity, what can we learn from these mistakes? Especially when we see the conflicts in Syria, I think that the only way that we avoid the disaster in Afghanistan is twofold. I feel like we need to make sure that any aid we send is out in the public eye, so that everyone knows that it was the US that helped bring peace to Syria. This is the opposite of the policies in Afghanistan, where any of the aid we sent was funneled secretly through Pakistan, as to limit the US’s presence. Secondly, there needs to be a real focus on nation building when the fighting does stop. Leaving a country in ruins just like we did Afghanistan will just lead to a country fractured and divided amongst all the different players in the region.