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A Historical Case Study of U.S. Strategy towards Afghanistan

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Research paper

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This paper is a historical case study of U.S. strategic thinking as it has been applied to Afghanistan from the Cold War to the present. It examines the successes and failures of U.S. strategy and policy as they relate to the changing situations in Afghanistan. The approach taken in this paper has been to divide the discussions into six time segments. The first three segments take place during the Cold War era and include the post-World War II period 1945-1978, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan 1979-1989, and the post-occupation period up to the collapse of the Soviet Union 1989-1992. The post-Cold War era includes three segments beginning with the Afghan Civil War 1992-1996, followed by the period of Taliban rule 1996-2001, and the post-911 period through Operation Enduring Freedom OEF 2001-2009. The division into the various time segments is based on distinguishing features of the periods, particularly as they shaped U.S. policy. The first period represents the time during which Afghanistan was still considered a viable self-governing country. The second period involves the intervention in Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, which began with support for the Afghan communist coup and turned into a 10-year Soviet occupation. The final Cold War segment involves the 3-year period following the Soviet withdrawal of troops and the final days of the Soviet-backed communist government. The last three segments involve the Afghan Civil War, the rise of radical Islam, the fall of the Taliban government at the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, and continuing stabilization efforts by coalition forces.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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