Small Wars Journal

American University in Kabul: Wielding Soft Power, in an Age of War

American University in Kabul: Wielding Soft Power, in an Age of War by Scott Peterson – Christian Science Monitor

But the attack, which killed 13 people at the American-funded institution, points to the incongruous challenge for the United States of creating a top-flight university in Afghanistan, designed to produce future leaders, while at the same time waging the longest war in U.S. history.

Straddling that contradiction – of establishing a widely appreciated form of benevolent soft power while engaged in a kinetic war – are the Afghan students who say they relish an American-style liberal arts education.

“I want to see hundreds, and thousands, of places of enlightenment such as this one within my country,” says Mr. Qasemi, now in his third year studying business administration, in an interview with a handful of AUAF students behind the fortress-like walls of a new campus in western Kabul.

He notes the dilemma faced by all students here, as “civilians stuck in between parties that are at war.” Indeed, for the first time since the United Nations began keeping count a decade ago, the first three months of 2019 saw more civilians killed by U.S. and Afghan forces than by the Taliban and other insurgents…

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