Recovering the Frontier State

Recovering the Frontier State : War, Ethnicity, and State in Afghanistan

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This book examines the prospects for rebuilding state and nation in Afghanistan with regard to 'Operation Enduring Freedom' carried out by the international coalition. It starts off by delineating the conceptual basis of Afghanistan's status as a frontier state. Looking at geo_strategic aspects Afghanistan's position as an historical buffer between empires and its internal characteristics-_weak authority structure, internal conflicts, interventions by neighbors, legitimacy of internal conquest, and trans-national ethnicities, the book provides insights into the unique geo-political context of Afghanistan. Whilst the author deems the legacy of the previous intervention for containment as a major contributing factor to the disorder in Afghanistan's state and society, he draws on lessons from the past intervention to assuage current obstacles and stalemate that is hindering political, social, and economic development in Afghanistan. Focusing on the impediments to development in Afghanistan, the background against which the problem needs to be analyzed, and consequently countered, is effectively set out. Incessant war and insurgency has led to mobilization along ethnic and religious lines in Afghanistan and has had profound effects on the kinds of intuitions that have perpetuated over time. Ethnic and religious groups have applied constant pressure on the state and this dissonance has had enduring negative consequences on nation building, social cohesion, and state-society relationships. Pre-emptive and reactive intervention by neighboring states and their links to ethnic groups inside Afghanistan is another dimension which is analyzed. An extensive exploration into the geo-political history of social groups of Afghanistan with an intensive account of the rise of various power contenders as a function of their history, their links with external actors, and their traditional position in the indigenous vertical hierarchy are made. Unconventional war and counter-insurgency operations funded by foreign and local elements are examined and policy guidelines for negotiations and conflict resolution are discussed. The work provides fresh insights into the rise of the Taliban, and adds further to the scholarly debate about the causes for the consolidation of Taliban power. It traces the history of the Afghan crisis, and critically evaluates the roles played by different national and international actors. A major contribution of the work is the articulation of the need for an integrated nation and state building strategy which takes into account the sensitivities of the Afghanistan experience instead of treating it like other post-conflict zones.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 252 pages
  • Lexington Books
  • MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739137026
  • 9780739137024

About Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Rasul Bakhsh Rais is professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan.show more

Review quote

This well-researched and lucidly written book examines the effect of the recent wars in Afghanistan on the country's ethnic mosaic, state institutions, and capacity to function as a sovereign state. Rais provides an informative anaylsis of Afghanistan's intra- and interethnic relations. . . . Highly recommended.... Rasul Rais has written a thorough, complex analysis of the key issues that continue to torment Afghanistan. His recurring argument, one not often made so directly or clearly, is that too frequently the Taliban have been narrowly analyzed as a religious movement 'in the image of extremist Islamic political movements, ' missing the fact that they have emerged from, and represent, Pashtun ethnic and political interests. Comparing today's conflict with the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, Rais argues that the'present Taliban force is built around Afghan nationalism and its driving force is Pashtun ethnicity more than it was before the American war.' This study covers a full range of sources and offers experienced insight into the continued instability in Afghanistan..--Robert Nichols This is a very important and timely book. The volume is magisterial in scope; by far the best recent work to appear dealing with Afghan society, ethnicity and the effects of the US- led occupation. In particular, the chapter Ethnicity, Political Power, and Fragmentation is the clearest and most accessible treatment of the role of ethnonationalism in Afghanistan and the treatment of the rise of the Taliban is groundbreaking, offering far more nuanced views than earlier explanations. The volume is a must-read for South and Central asianists and those interested in US foreign policy...--Charles Kennedy A sweeping survey of the Afghan political landscape is given perspective by a thoughtful study of the challenges to the state, the significance of ethnicity, and failures in post-conflict reconstruction. The book details the missed opportunities in US andWestern policies to stabilize the country and remove the sources of global terrorism. The narrative offers a sober reminder of how the world cannot afford to allow history to repeat itself in Afghanistan....--Marvin G. Weinbaum Rasul Bakhsh Rais has written a historically informed, highly readable critical account of efforts by the U.S. and other world powers to stabilize Afghanistan and integrate into the international system since September 11. He draws on decades of researchand writing on that country, as well as Pakistan, his own country, whose fate is so closely tied to that of his neighbor. Everyone interested in Afghanistan should buy this book....--Barnett R. Rubinshow more