Kevin Doremus

November 7, 2019

The Failures of Ideological Foreign Policy in Afghanistan

Liberals have said continuously that history and culture do not matter because their ideas are universally applicable to any given society. However, in practice, liberal hegemony in Afghanistan is nothing more than a failure. Liberals cannot admit it, and even the military cannot realize it.

The new documents demonstrate that the internal documents read similarly to what restrainers say in public.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing...What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

Liberals denied reality in which they believed Afghans would rationally choose democracy. The nation-builders could not subvert the tribal cultural norms. These papers further vindicate the realist analysis of the Afghan war.

The Thucydides’ Trap is the most applicable here. The US, as Athens, filled with hubris after the Cold War thought it was invincible. It decided to intervene in multiple places because it thought the costs would be low. However, when the strategists failed to study their opponents (believing it was not necessary), the war turned into a disaster. Athens invaded Sicily with no real study of the terrain or Sicilians. The result was a significant defeat, but it led to a contraction of its sphere of influence. In the case of the United States, the costs have been high, but victory is not in sight. However, the costs have been significant enough to lead to a decline in its relative power.

While the US focused its energy on the war in The Greater Middle East, rising powers like China have been about to build economic ties and grow their relative power.

If liberals wanted to preserve the liberal order, it would have been in the US’ interest to avoid wars in strategically insignificant regions. The resources that were wasted in Afghanistan could have been used to balance against the China/Russia axis. Instead, primacists went ahead through away who knows how much and lied to the taxpayer about how successful they are only to then ask the very for even more money.

About the author

Kevin is an Instructor of International Relations and Russian Foreign Policy at LCC International University. His primary research interests are the geopolitical orientations of Central Europe and the application of Libertarian thought in international relations theory.

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