The United States attacked and defeated the Afghan Taliban regime over in the course of a few short weeks in 2001. Within a few years, the finality of that victory was brought into question as the Taliban regrouped and eventually reasserted itself as a formidable guerilla army that the U.S. military could not easily defeat. At the same time that it was facing a more difficult military challenge than anticipated, the United States got bogged down in the process of nation-building, as well as efforts at social reform. This course examines the history of American involvement in Afghanistan, beginning with the Cold War when the U.S. used Afghanistan as a test case for new models of political modernization and economic development. We will go on to discuss the U.S. support for Islamist political parties during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the consequent rise of the Taliban, and the role of Afghanistan in the September 11th attacks and the “War on Terror” that followed. The course will conclude with a consideration of the impact and legacy of the two decades of nation-building and social reform carried out by the United States since 9/11.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
grading will be determined by class participation, two short essays, and a 15-page research paper
Anthropology and Sociology majors, Global Studies concentrators, Political Science and Asian Studies majors will get preference
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Among the topics relevant to power and difference to be considered in this course are the American support and later disavowal of Islamist political parties to advance US geopolitical goals, public relations efforts "to save Afghan women" after 9/11, and the uses and misuses of American military, economic, and political power to build a western-style democratic government and bring western-oriented social reforms to a society radically different from U.S. society.