Document Type

Honors Project


The security situation has deteriorated rapidly in Afghanistan following the end of NATO’s combat mission in 2014. The Taliban has seized control of large swathes of the country, and many predict that the country will remain in a violent state of civil war for years to come. The time has come to critically examine some of the intellectual underpinnings of the war in order to understand why the US’s mission to bring about a peaceful and stable Afghanistan has failed. This project will answer the question “Why did state-building fail in Afghanistan?” I explore the divide between two intellectual schools of thought: one school that believes that the US did state-building incorrectly, but that a more concentrated effort to build liberal democracy is needed, and another school that believes that we should never have attempted to state-build in Afghanistan in the first place. I ultimately come down on the “do-less” side, and argue that the state-building project in Afghanistan was doomed from the start, and that the US should only pursue a narrow counterterrorism mission in the country.



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