Afghanistan- Aid, Armies and Empires
As the battle for Afghanistan intensifies, with the NATO-led coalition seemingly unable to defeat the Taliban, and struggling in its nation building efforts, Afghanistan expert Peter Marsden looks at why it is that the Great Powers, from 19th-century Britain to the 20th-century Soviet Union to 21st-century America, have so often been frustrated in attempting to impose their will on this strategically vital country. In comparing the three interventions, Marsden uncovers a number of similarities. The rhetoric of 'development' coming from the capitals of the West has, he finds, a well-established heritage. Every would-be occupier has used some form of aid to try and turn Afghanistan into the kind of country that would suit their geopolitical objectives. Marsden, who has worked with British NGOs in Afghanistan for 20 years, draws on his own experience as well as extensive archive research to establish how these grand interventions appear from the Afghan perspective, and why it is that ordinary Afghans seem to be better off when they are attracting less, not more, attention from the world powers. He argues that the Americans have yet to learn the lessons that the Soviets and the British before them learned: that no amount of financial, military or humanitarian aid will 'stabilise' the country if it comes with violence and foreign occupation. Afghanistan - Aid, Armies and Empires offers both an exploration of the relationship between aid and power, and a fresh and original history of Afghanistan through the prism of great power politics.
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