Afghanistan: The End of Liberal Interventionism?

DOI10.1177/20419058211066515
Date01 December 2021
Published date01 December 2021
16 POLITICAL INSIGHT DECEMBER 2021
The American fiasco in Afghanistan
last August was foreseeable
and foreseen by those who
bothered to look up the history
of previous foreign interventions there.
It has left in tatters the Western policy of
‘liberal intervention’: the idea that you
can use overwhelming military power to
right wrongs and introduce democracy to
countries which don’t enjoy it.
When the Russians went into Afghanistan
in December 1978, many of their senior
political and military leaders were grimly
aware of the possible consequences. They
Afghanistan: The
End of Liberal
Interventionism?
The US’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year
brought a 20-year-old invasion to an end. Former British diplomat
Rodric Braithwaite looks back at Afghan history and argues that
foreign attempts to intervene in Afghanistan are doomed to failure.
had had a productive relationship with the
government of Afghan President Daud Khan,
who was determined moderniser. But in April
1978 Daud was overthrown and killed by the
Afghan communists. The Russians had little
choice but to recognise this questionable
addition to the Soviet bloc. The new rulers
were fanatical ideologues and almost wholly
inexperienced in aairs of state.
The Afghan communists announced that
they would leap direct from feudalism to a
prosperous, just society. They would give
land to the peasants, food to the hungry,
© David Branson / Alamy Stock Photo
Political Insight December 2021 BU.indd 16Political Insight December 2021 BU.indd 16 18/11/2021 14:2018/11/2021 14:20

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