The US Challenge of Building a Nation in Divided Afghanistan

Leading up to the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, U.S. and coalition forces are faced with the challenge of leaving the country in a self-sustained state. This means not only training Afghan security forces to hold their own against al-Qaeda, but also building a stable and recognized government.

This is difficult in a country that was left largely untouched by history. It was left as a buffer zone between Russia and England, when the English were in India. Its isolation was accentuated by the former Afghan monarchy that tried to keep foreigners out of the country.

A fundamental problem in building an Afghan government, however, is its culture of ethnic tribes and warlords. The United States is trying to build a united government in a country whose people are not united, according to Drew Berquist, former U.S. intelligence officer, and author of “The Maverick Experiment.”

“Just like with anything, people are stronger as one. Afghans don’t see the value in that,” Berquist said in an earlier interview with The Epoch Times.

The Afghan people identify themselves with their tribes—the Pashtun, the Uzbek—“and not as Afghans,” Berquist said.

The Afghan government, headed by President Hamid Karzai, has borne a heavy burden as it tries to win the favor of a nation that views it as being part of a foreign occupation.

Berquist believes the pressure on Karzai will be reduced as coalition forces begin their withdrawal process in July, “Because he’s not going to have as many people knocking his door down saying ‘Hey, get this huge military installment down the road and out of here.’”

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Photo Credit: DoD photo by Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen, U.S. Air Force.