By Parnika Deora
Does the U.S want world peace or was it induced to believe so because of its own plan gone wrong? Did the Cold War give birth to Afghan Mujahideen and the Taliban?
The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union went on from approximately 1947-1991. So, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the U.S saw it as a huge threat to their standing in the cold war scenario.
Sensing danger, the U.S and Pakistan brushed aside all their previous differences and took a more pragmatic step. U.S saw this invasion as an incendiary approach by the Soviet Union and thought that it wanted to project Soviet power in the Middle East. Pakistan was also taken aback by this new power that had appeared. So the two joined hands and their penchant for self-interest drove them towards a common goal: Getting the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
A PERSONAL TAKE:
What U.S did was justifiable according to an International Relations theory. According to Realism, a state should never think of the moral implications of any war and do whatever it has to for its own interest and national security. Sometimes it may be important to trample on human rights in order to fulfil the state interests. Keeping this is mind the U.S paved the way for an insurgency so that it could finish what its rival had started.
TRAINING AND SUPPORT:
Training and organizing the insurgents would be Pakistan’s responsibility while the U.S would provide Pakistan with financial and technical aid. These insurgents would infiltrate Afghanistan and wage a ‘jihad’ against the Soviets. The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) was given the task of keeping the Afghan Insurgency in check. Afghan groups dominated the Soviet struggle but a lot of insurgents from all over the world came to be a part of it.
In Pakistan itself, many madrassas (religious schools) were set up with the aid of the government who was in turn backed by U.S funding. These madrassas in Pakistan produced a number of local insurgents (around 4000) from different Islamic groups like the Wahhabist, Deobandis etc. This cause was also supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc and people poured in from everywhere.
Pakistan and the U.S were successful and the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989. What many people expected was that the Soviet’s defeat would lead to an Islamic revolution but all they could see was anarchy.
Pakistan was submerged by madrassas and jihadist groups by then that even after the Zia government left the Jihadi organizations became the key element in the functioning of the state. Al-Qaeda was a neo-fundamentalist product of the Cold War while the Taliban was a result of the ruins and anarchy in Afghanistan after the Soviet departure.
AFGHAN CIVIL WAR AND THE TALIBAN:
The Taliban was a result of thousands of madrassas and cross-border refugees who had no future and were appalled by the results of the Soviet departure. The above factors led to a civil war. Afghanistan was torn between different factions of the mujahideen who were divided on the lines of region (north v south), language (Farsi v Pushto) and doctrine (Shia v Sunni).
They fought each other and eroded what was left of the country. In 1994, being exhausted and frustrated by the political instability in the country, a group of former madrassa students started their own vigilantism. The Taliban was born.
WHAT DID IT WANT?
It is also essential to understand that the Taliban wanted recognition from the U.S and that would have given them an international standing. In the early 90s, Taliban would thank the U.S for its help in the mujahideen struggle and there was no foul play between Taliban and the U.S.
Could it be that if U.S had given the Taliban the validation that they required, then they might have handed over Osama Bin Laden when they had been asked to take stern measures against him for bombing the U.S embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998?
Could the United States have recognised a regime that had such draconian laws and harboured retrograde attitudes? It might have been a slight possibility because the United States has had a history of asking countries to reconcile with terrorist movements. Example: Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Angola.
After 1990s, the U.S couldn’t have thought that the mujahideen would reconcile and leave what it started. With nothing left to do, they resorted to other means (destruction and chaos) to get attention and validation. The final outcome was 9/11 and a terror-stricken world that changed U.S’s policy on terrorism forever because till then it used to compel African countries to reconcile with the terrorist movements.
Realism, as discussed above, puts national and state interest on the top and justifies any act in the name of national security. Also, there is a thin line between national interest and state/self-interest.
It’s like you know you have a risk for diabetes but you would still indulge in sweet treats and later complain when the result strikes you! And why did you indulge in it in the first place?
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.