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Book Review/Report




Vanda,Felbab-Brown. “Afghanistan in 2012: Limited Progress andThreatening Future.” Asian Survey, Vol. 53, No. 1(January/February 2013), pp. 22-33

Thisarticle addresses the transition of Afghanistan in 2014, and thefuture impacts that are likely to occur from the transition.According to Vanda, Afghanistan will experience a major security andeconomic transition over the next few years. President Karzai hadexpressed his ambition that afghan security forces would have fullresponsibility across Afghanistan by the end of 2014. This objective,an Afghanistan ambition fully supported by North Atlantic TreatyOrganization (NATO), is aligned without the transition strategy thatrequires security responsibility that was agreed in the NATO summitin 2010. Thus, looking forward to the responsible end of the war inAfghan, the United States military will eventually draw down andleave Afghanistan in full responsibility of their nation by the endof the year. The author points out that the U.S believes thatAfghanistan led peace and reconciliation is ultimately fundamental inorder to ensure a lasting stability that result to the end ofconflict and violence.

However,the author is concerned about the limited progress and conflict,which is likely to threaten the future of the country. In order toaddress conflict with the Taliban, the Afghan government and the U.Sinvites the Taliban to collaborate in the political process, whichincluding taking steps necessary to open a Taliban office in Qatar.The author urges that the outcome of any peace and reconciliationprocess should involve various insurgents such as Taliban, in orderfor them to break ties with terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, endviolence and accept the country’s constitution, and also protectthe rights of the Afghanistan citizens. Despite the increasingchallenges facing the country before the transition, the authorestablishes that Afghan’s problems cannot be solved by militaryforces, but a sustainable transition that focuses on politicalsettlement, conflict and economic intervention. This article isenlightening and the information therein is relevant for addressingthe future challenges and hindrances of Afghanistan economic,security, peace and progress in the future.

Maley,William (2011). &quotAfghanistan in 2011: Positioning for anUncertain Future.&quot Asian SurveyVol 52, No 1

Thebook addresses the implications of the tense regional relations, theassassination of prominent leaders, and the withdrawal ofinternational military combats from Afghanistan. This is said to leadto uncertain future in Afghanistan, at the implications have profoundand lasting effects on Afghan’s economic development. There is alsoa concern that the result of the withdrawal of the internationalforces is likely to reduce in spending by the military, whichcurrently bolsters the afghan economy. Therefore, a dramatic fall inGDP at the point of transition would undermine security, fuelperception of the international community, and ultimately threatenthe stability of the country.

Thebook also explores how the Taliban’ ‘Quetta Shura’ attack in2009 increased in scope and number in the east and north ofAfghanistan. This group adopted some of the tactics such as roadsidebombs, and suicide attacks leading to escalating violence nationwide.Other terror reports including the attempt to assassinate presidentKarzai, and the Taliban attacks on the joint U.S.-Afghan outpost leaves a lot of questions on the future and security of the country.Some experts also believe that, over the past years, Afghan Talibanand Pakistan militants have increasingly merged and pooled theirefforts against government in both countries. This does not onlythreaten the economy and security of the two countries, but is likelyto lead to a deterioration of relationship in the future.

Inaddition, the author highlights that Karzai’s government in Afghanhas come under both domestic and international criticism. This isbecause of the increased and rampant corruption, and the inability toimprove security and the overall living condition for the country’scitizens. This is evident because some narcotic industries remain anentrenched threat in the political arena, while some warlordscontinue to exert strong anti-government influences. For this reason,the author does not find any successful and productive measure thatwill counter these problems in the future. From the book, it can beconcluded that even with the increased support from the U.S troopsand European support, there is a significant challenge in addressingTaliban conflict and improving the country’s political health.

Vanda,Felbaa-Brown (2013). &quotAfghanistan in 2013: On the Cusp…or onthe Brink?.&quot Asian Survey, Vol 54

Theauthor explores how the year 2013 was clouded with political,economic and security uncertainty from the Afghan’s 2014transition. This transition, presidential elections in April 2014 andsecurity concerns caused the departure of NATO troops which proved topose a challenge to the government. In particular, the reduction ofinternational aid is likely to increase pressure to create a stableand vibrant domestic business environment. Furthermore, securityconcerned continued to mount and remains a crucial issue. Similarly,the economic outlook is clouded by political uncertainty leading upelection in 2013/2014 and by limited success in controlling fiscaloutcomes.

Vandapoints out how peace talks have been stalled by the recent election.As 2014 the end of 2014 looms, a year marked with withdrawal ofinternational troops from Afghanistan, efforts of peace negotiationsshould be made. It is evident that the overall transition strategymay not integrate negotiations with insurgents and has been pursuedby different actors. Although there is a wide support for peacenegotiations with insurgents, there is little agreement amongdomestic and international actors on what political price isacceptable in peace deals, whom to engage, and what is the vision forthe end state. The author outlines his view that, if Afghan is tobecome stable and functioning, it is crucial that those currentlyexcluded should be included in the new peace talks and negotiations.If a consequence of negotiating with the Taliban is excluded, theprogress made could easily unravel.

Today,the fear for Afghanistan future derives their legitimacy from thecountry’s political concession patterns. Furthermore, negotiationsbetween international actors and national elites result to failuretime and time again. Thus, the article enlightens readers that thesearch of the Afghanistan’s sense of reconciliation at nationallevel ultimately is not an exercise that results to understanding,but a recycle of old script of deal-making and politicalarrangements. More so, it is also a capitulation without anyintegration of the demands of the civilian population. For thisreason, there is much concern on the future progress of human rights,media, and women’s rights, and whether they can be protected underthe new regime.

Waldman,Matt (2013). “System Failure: The Underlying Causes of USPolicy-Making Errors in Afghanistan.” International Affairs, Vol.89, No. 4, pp 825-843

TheUnited States has heavily influenced the international interventionin Afghanistan since 2001. This intervention was initiated by the U.Sin response to the 11 September 2001 attacks. It so appears that thecommitment of U.S forces to ground operations in Afghanistan hasconsolidated acceptance of enduring global engagement within theAmerican political system. However, in this effect, the Taliban hasregain momentum and continued to strike harder due to the persistenceU.S policy. This article elaborates the causes of the system failurein Afghanistan that results from the U.S policy making in relation todiplomacy, nation-building and military activities.

Inregards to the military activities, the article establishes that,under the U.S pressure, the Pakistan and Afghanistan haveintermittently applied military force against Taliban and Al-Qaedagroup and tribesmen living along the border. However, both terroristgroups have managed to continue inflicting heavy casualties on themilitary groups from both countries. In the end, the Afghangovernment agreed to a ceasefire under a deal that is meant torestore the group’s autonomy and self-government. The U.S. policyon deployment of military activity would have been fine and effectiveit helped in rooting out Taliban and Al-Qaeda from the countrycompletely. Furthermore, deals with tribal leaders have provenineffective in ending militancy and terrorism, since the Talibanstepped up their attack in the country, and suicide bombing inPakistan reaching an all-time high by 2007.

Diplomacyis another major element of the U.S counterterrorism policy addressedin the article. This policy was established by policy makers in theU.S to try and build alliance in its fight against the Taliban andAl-Qaeda network, and persuade countries that the operation wouldmake the Al-Qaeda desist from continuing with terrorist attacks.However, the U.S. public diplomacy in Pakistan and Afghanistan iscomplicated immensely by the many different actors that the U.Spolicy officials must take into consideration. In most cases, theU.S. policy makers have tried to craft appropriate nuanced messagesfor each audience, but the messages often conflict.

Javaid,Umbreen and Farhat, Nasreen. 2013. Liquidation of American Forcesfrom Afghanistan: Its impacts on the region. South AsianStudiesVol28, No. 2: 307-315,

Thearticle begins by analyzing Soviets interest in expanding politicalinfluence in Afghanistan. This objective proved hard to accomplishbecause to the severe resistance from Mujahideen. However, the U.Sconquest was hardly inevitable, but this was after the rise ofAl-Qaeda. The Soviet military leadership in Afghanistan displayed animpressive tactical and operational adaptability to war-fightingconditions in that primitive country. During Obama’sadministration, the U.S government promised to remove military forcesfrom Afghanistan by the end of 2014. However, many Americans opposethis withdrawal, with 20% of American in favor of the plan of havingU.S. troops out of Afghanistan by 2014.

Theauthor compares this liquidation to the American past history afterits defeat of Russia during the Cold War. The author raises questionson whether America would leave unattended as it did in the Cold War.However, the author adds that India has shown incredible interest onAfghanistan transition and has continued to supply massive aid in thepast years. India perceives the transition as a key opportunity formore trilateral economic and political cooperation between New Delhi,Kabul and Istanbul. The authors argue that as NATO withdraws itscombat mission in Afghan, the need for good and effective governanceshould be paramount, so that a stable transition can be reinforcedand promoted. Therefore, the article clearly communicate to readersand political elite on the need to work towards defining thetransition strategy, so that individual allies like India can goabout resourcing their mission appropriately in the transition.

Mazhar,Muhammad Saleem, SameeOzair Khan, and Naheed S. Goraya. 2013. Post2014-Afghanistan. South Asian Studies 28, No 1, pp 67-84,

Thisarticle analyses the problems, factors, and possible pitfalls thatare likely to follow when the US/ International Security AssistanceForce (ISAF) withdrawals from Afghanistan. The ISAF and US deployed asizeable force in Afghanistan and devoted significant resources tofighting the Taliban and other insurgents in the Middle East. As of2009, there were approximately more than 60,000 troops from 42countries in ISAF, with NATO providing a massive military force.However, these efforts may prove in vain if the U.S./ISAF troop iswithdrawn, and the Taliban and other insurgents fail to change theirbehavior. The 2014 transition and withdrawal of the U.S forces arelikely to prove little more than an extension of war and violence,which is by other means. The key insurgent groups are highlyideological, and may well believe that are winning, and have stronginfluence to continue fighting through even after the transition.

Anotherpitfall that may be experienced in Afghanistan as discussed in thearticle is the prevalence of lawlessness in large areas of thecountry, particularly the north. The author holds that Afghanistancould look like Somali today, or Lebanon in the 1980s, a lawless landwith civil war and terrorists everywhere. The Taliban, with the helpof other terrorist groups may arise once again and spread itsinfluence through the country, and instill the fear of terror on thecitizens. This was also evident in 1989, after the Soviet Withdrawal,which saw the rise of the Taliban. After the withdrawal, Pakistanquickly took advantage of the opportunity, and helped in the rise ofthe Taliban in order to secure its own trade interests, andtransportation routes. Nevertheless, the civil war continued evenafter the withdrawal of the Soviet.

Mostof the Pakistan people perceived that the U.S was bound to get tiredof the military intervention in Afghanistan. Since now it has, theUS/ISAF withdrawal will give Pakistan a free hand in Afghanistan.Although the U.S might not like this invasion, its desire to be domewith Afghanistan is likely to outweigh its willingness to counterseriously anything Pakistan might do there. The end of presence ofthe U.S combats in Afghanistan will also mean the end of Americandependency on supply routes through Pakistan. This is also likely tomean the end of U.S continued provision of military and economicsupport to Kabul. Therefore, the dependency of U.S and Pakistan islikely to end and, therefore, it can act more forcefully againstTaliban forces based in Pakistan, as well as, against Pakistanitself. On the other hand, or perhaps simultaneously, the U.S/ISAFwithdrawal from Afghanistan might put UD and its allies in a betterposition to exploit any differences that exist and those that maydevelop between the Taliban and Pakistan.

GAOreport on security force assistance (2013). Connections: TheQuarterly Journal 12, no. 2: 103-124,

Thisarticle elaborates how the U.S and NATO official have increased theirefforts to train Afghanistan security forces so as to boost thecapacity of the police and the judiciary system. Other participantssuch as the French president supported this move by sendingadditional France combat forces to Afghanistan to assist in trainingthe security forces of Afghan. France also pledged additional supportof aid in the northern part of Afghan including Kunduz and Kabulprovinces. This aid covers primarily education, agriculture, healthand rule of law sector. Despite the rising criticism against France,most people will agree that its military engagement in Afghanistanhas been effective and beneficial. The military forces trained by theFrench combats work to effectively stabilize operations, and this hashelped in capacity building efforts.

NATOand the U.S have spent a lot of money on training the security forcesof Afghan, as well as, increasing the size of Afghan National Army(ANA). The article observes that training of the host countrysecurity forces is critical for Afghanistan, and to a lesser degreein the next decades as the United States looks to transition thosecombats, and security mission to Afghan military personnel. However,training Afghan forces has been viewed as controversial, andespecially more difficult to train for counterterrorism andcounterinsurgency operations. On the same note, nearly 90% of therecruits brought into the training are illiterate, making training amore remedial task and exceedingly difficult. Regardless, the NATOand the U.S continues to support host training because failure tosufficiently train security forces in Afghan makes total withdrawalfrom the country nearly impossible. As a result, training securityforces offers a degree of proficiency that allows adequate protectionof the Afghanistan national government, as well as, its citizens.


Afghanistanremains one of the country’s in the world that are least developed.The above articles demonstrate how political insecurity anduncertainty is likely to undermine the 2014 transition process anddevelopment agendas. The presence or the absence of politicalstability and security are the primary factors that determineeconomic performance in a country in the medium term. Therefore, inAfghanistan, economic crime, continued conflict and violence, as wellas, systematic corruption have continually undermined Afghanistan’sgovernance and state-building agenda. Thus, much will depend on thecountry’s success in achieving peace, stability and reconciliation.

Vanda’sarticles establish internal insurgency resulting to violence andcivil war can be extremely damaging to the economy, development andpolitical stability. This are the key ingredients of transitions topeaceful developments. This points on the ongoing efforts to reach apeaceful solution to the Taliban insurgency, and emphasizes on theurgent need for better political consolidation, particularly on the2014 presidential elections, as well as, the 2015 parliamentaryelections. Cordesman, Gold and Hess (2013) urge that effectivetransition in 2014 requires that the political elite in Afghanistanrise above corruption, short-termism, factionalized politics, andwidespread patronage in order to pursue a long-term national agenda.This will require political consolidation and a wider coalition forpeace and reconciliation. Alternatively, the international communityshould begin viewing the transition as an opportunity to enhance andencourage coherence, and not just in terms of insecurity andinstability.

Theauthors predict slow and lower economic growth under the lessfavorable scenario. The authors have based the country’s growthprojection on the assumptions related mainly to security, aid levels,and investment climate. The deteriorating governance and securitywould lead to even lower of possibly negative economic growth. On theother hand, extremely high level of annual aid cannot be sustained.It is evident that, over the past 10 years, aid has funded essentialpublic service under government auspices including health,infrastructure investments, education, and government administration.Violent fluctuation on in aid, especially abrupt cutoffs can bedamaging and destabilizing. The main concern is the Afghanistangovernment’s ability to operate with the declining aid, and in theend manage to mitigate the adverse impacts.


Cordesman,A. H., Gold, B., &amp Hess, A. (2013). TheAfghan War in 2013: Meeting the Challenges of Transition: AfghanEconomics and Outside Aid.Lanham: Rowman &amp Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc..