Small Wars Journal

Afghanistan War

Replacing Afghan Honor with Taliban Disgust: The Specter of Ethnic Cleansing – Part 2 of 3

The Taliban fighter today does not seek honor. He seeks cleanliness. When contaminated, he uses blood, the blood of that which is non-Taliban, as soul bleach. Any act, no matter how far outside the realm of human decency or of traditional Afghan honor codes it may be, now becomes possible for a Taliban fighter as long as he cleanses himself in medias res or ex post facto, in blood. Without the modulating elaborations of honor-rooted, traditional, highly evolved, overlapping clan relationships, the resulting cultural product -- the Taliban's fighter -- is more primal, far less sophisticated, and far less stable and predictable than the traditional Afghan warrior.

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The Taliban's Weaponization of Moral Authority in Afghanistan - Part 1 of 3

Ethnic/tribal identity is so sensitive an issue in Afghanistan today that neither the CIA nor any other entity monitoring demographics in Afghanistan (or its Diasporas) can provide even ball-park statistics about how many or which specific individuals belong to what ethnic, tribal, clan, or sectarian groups (genetic testing is, however, beginning to secure some reliable ethnic data). While Taliban and most other violent extremists proudly self-identify as Pashtun, the tribal, clan, and ethnic identity of the other Afghan today tends to change depending on which side of the street he's standing, which goat path he's using, or the immigration agent to whom he's relating his refugee narrative.

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Kabul: The Second Peshawar for Selling Military Uniforms & Equipment

Selling military equipment in Kabul has become a cause for concern among both Afghans and their international partners. To maintain law and order, boost the morale of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and strengthen the trust between ANSF and ordinary Afghans, the Kabul police must ban selling military goods in open markets.

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Time for America to Leave Afghanistan

As the United States enters its eighteenth year in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. military remains no closer to ending this conflict. President Trump has given the U.S. military one last chance to implement a new strategy to end the conflict. For him, the American people, the Afghans, and the U.S. military the decisive point in this long conflict is rapidly approaching.

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AFPAK Hands: Time for Strategic Review?

One of the more celebrated culture-oriented initiatives in the DoD is the Afghanistan-Pakistan (AFPAK) Hands program. Originally designed to strengthen long-term stability between allies and immerse military service members deep within the cultures and languages of Afghanistan and Pakistan, many within the DoD see the program as a glowing success. So successful in fact, that some military leaders want to replicate AFPAK Hands and create similar programs with a focus on other regions of the world. Yet, little to no work exists that examines the effectiveness of the program.

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