The case for U.S. leadership in rebuilding Afghanistan
Publication Date: January 2002
Publisher(s): East-West Center
Author(s): Wali M. Osman
Series: AsiaPacific issues ; no. 62
Coverage: United States Afghanistan
To further its strategic interests and national security, the United States has intervened in Afghanistan twice in less than two decades, first in the fight against the Soviets and then the Taliban. Now, as Afghans attempt to rebuild, American interests are at stake again. Before the Soviet takeover, Afghanistan had been moving slowly toward modernity, its development impeded by ethnic and tribal divisions kept in check by the monarchy's patronage system. Today, the country needs not only a new physical infrastructure but also institutions that will enable it to function as a modern economy, while politically accommodating its diverse and divided population. Democratization and economic development offer the best hope for stability, and specific steps can be taken to achieve these outcomes, but the country cannot move forward without increased security. Warlords contest the authority of the transitional government, which is itself critically divided. Beyond the issue of security, there is the urgent need for a more active commitment of U.S. resources and influence to the political and economic aspects of the reconstruction effort.