In my review of Chapter 3, I summarized the series of stages in Afghanistan's experience with modern war as described by author Larry Goodson. Chapter 4, titled "Impact of the War on Afghan State and Society," focuses on the impact of this experience on the entire architecture of the Afghan nation. So to frame and organize the thoughts of Mr. Goodson in this chapter, I would like to use the supply chain architectures I have discussed in relation to Afghanistan previously. These architectures can be viewed as comprising a pyramid within which the base architectures are most critical and without which the entire pyramid would crumble:
Throughout the stages of modern war experienced by Afghanistan, the base architectures that been built over time with the help of foreign nations, such as the Soviet Union, were systematically destroyed and / or degraded to a point of deep distress.
Impact on Human Architecture
The toll the war has taken on human life across a broad spectrum of the Afghan population cannot be underestimated when taking assessment of Afghanistan's conditions. At the time of Mr. Goodson's book in 2001, he writes that "recent reports suggest that from 1.5 million to more than 2 million war deaths" had occured in Afghanistan "since 1978." This was approximately 10% of the population at that time. Furthermore, 500 thousand to 1 million Afghans had been wounded and injured. Another 6.2 million refugees existed outside of Afghanistan at the peak in 1990, in addition to which 2 million were internally displaced. Throughout 1996 and 1997, a stable 2.7 million refugees lived beyond the borders of their homelands.
Impact on Physical Architecture
As Mr. Goodson states, "at one point or another since 1978, virtually everything in Afghanistan has been a target. Cities, towns, villages, houses, mosques and minarets, schools, hospitals, industrial structures, other buildings, roads, bridges, orchards, and fields have all been damaged or destroyed during combat." Mr. Goodson continues that "as of early 2001, Afghanistan was a country reduced by the technology of modern war to a premodern level of existence."
Impact on Financial Architecture
Due to the destruction and degradation of the above architectures upon which the Afghan nation state was built, "its formal economy had essentially collapsed. Virtually no industry functioned, and the most vibrant economic activities were transit trade, opium growing, heroin manufacturing and smuggling, and other small-scale agriculture." The mechanisms, tools, and vehicles that existed to support and enable the Afghan people to deploy their goods and services to market no longer existed. In the ensuing chaos, the rise of the Taliban from out of Western Pakistan eventually led to the "Kalishnikovization" of the nation, facilitated by the illicit weapons and drug trade that extended beyond Afghanistan's borders.
The Rise and Role of the Taliban
As is detailed by Mr. Goodson, the Taliban was born solely out of the madrassas located in Pakistan's western provinces in the mid-1990s, and encouraged by Pakistan covertly, and later more overtly, as an effort to fill the vacuum left by the Soviet Union. In entering Afghanistan, the Taliban leveraged Pakistan-based support to maintain military prowess, channels of financing and overall logistical strength while taking advantage of the Pushtun population in Afghanistan to build a foundation of support from which to attack and degrade the positions of non-Pushtun minorities.
The source of Taliban strength is illustrated above. In essence, movement into Afghanistan is supported by a combination of leadership and students from the madrassas and logistical, financial and military support based in and / or routed through Pakistan. The extremely large Afghani refugee population in Pakistan has also contributed resources, human and otherwise, to the Taliban movement.
To complete the loop, Taliban hardened by the experience of fighting and living in Afghanistan return to Pakistan for rest and to train the next round of fresh recruits brought into the Pakistan madrassas and Pakistan-based Taliban militia. Up until 2001, this regular and for so long unimpeded movement allowed the Taliban to put down deep roots across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. However, up until 2001, the Taliban mostly reinforced the current state of Afghanistan's base architectures more than they had acted to rebuild them towards reconstructing the nation state.
This was evident in how they tightened the vice on both men and women, massacred and forcefully migrated minorities, and further degrading all of the elements of culture and society upon which communities, and in aggregate a nation, would be re-founded.
The majority of the struggle in Afghanistan faced today is the difficulty in "unwinding" this deeply rooted Taliban entrenchment and cross-border intertwinement with Pakistan, including all the negative elements of criminal trade, while at the same time trying to establish the foundation for the legitimate and pro-development trade that is desired between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the benefit of progress in Central Asia.In review of Chapter 5: The Changing Regional Environment I will discuss Mr. Goodson's take on the actions and interests of the various external actors that have had an impact on Afghanistan's state of affairs up until 2001.