Anatol Lieven is a professor in the War Studies Department of King’s College London and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington DC. He was formerly a journalist for The Times (London) in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His book, Pakistan: A Hard Country, is available in an updated paperback edition.
Afghanistan from the Cold War Through the War on Terror by Barnett R. Rubin
Talibanistan: Negotiating the Borders Between Terror, Politics, and Religion edited by Peter Bergen with Katherine Tiedemann
Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973–2012 by Vahid Brown and Don Rassler
Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979–89 by Rodric Braithwaite
A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan by Artemy M. Kalinovsky
Ghosts of Afghanistan: Hard Truths and Foreign Myths by Jonathan Steele
Afghanistan and Pakistan: Conflict, Extremism, and Resistance to Modernity by Riaz Mohammad Khan
Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan US Department of Defense
Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field edited by Antonio Giustozzi
An Enemy We Created: The Myth of the Taliban/Al Qaeda Merger in Afghanistan, 1970–2010 by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn
Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a basing agreement with the United States is putting at risk the willingness of the US and the West to remain engaged in Afghanistan at all.
Many Pakistanis view the Taliban (and Afghans in general) as greedy, treacherous, primitive, and fanatical savages. For the Taliban, the Pakistani state and military (and non-Pashtun Pakistanis in general) are decadent, corrupt, treacherous, brutal, and greedy oppressors. Each side regards the other as inherently unreliable.
If the US pulls out of Afghanistan completely and India pours in arms, money, and advisers, then it seems certain that Pakistan would ramp up its support for the Taliban. What all this outside “aid” would do—as it has so often in Afghanistan’s tragic past—is ensure that the civil war continues, perhaps indefinitely.
The war in Afghanistan has always been an Afghan civil war, as well as a war between the Taliban and Western forces. The fact is that a plurality of Afghans are rural Pashtuns. By tipping the military balance in favor of the non-Pashtun nationalities, the US and NATO intervention has motivated Pashtuns to fight against the western forces. The tragic reality is that the presence and actions of the US forces themselves have contributed to Taliban support. If there was any doubt about that before the burning of the Korans and the massacre by Sergeant Robert Bales in Kandahar, there can be no doubt now.