Afghanistan's Endless War

State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Taliban

Larry P. Goodson

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: Middle East Studies; Politics
  • Bibliographic information: 279 pp., maps, tables, appendixes, notes, bibliog., index, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: N / A Can Cam Thai Singa Malaysi
  • Contents

Going beyond the stereotypes of Kalashnikov-wielding Afghan mujahideen and black-turbaned Taliban fundamentalists, Larry Goodson explains in this concise analysis of the Afghan war what has really been happening in Afghanistan in the last twenty years.

Beginning with the reasons behind Afghanistan's inability to forge a strong state - its myriad cleavages along ethnic, religious, social, and geographical fault lines - Goodson then examines the devastating course of the war itself. He charts its utter destruction of the country, from the deaths of more than 2 million Afghans and the dispersal of some six million others as refugees to the complete collapse of its economy, which today has been replaced by monoagriculture in opium poppies and heroin production. The Taliban, some of whose leaders Goodson interviewed as recently as 1997, have controlled roughly 80 percent of the country but themselves have shown increasing discord along ethnic and political lines.
Larry P. Goodson is associate professor of international studies at Bentley College, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Maps and Tables
Afghanistan in the Post-Cold War World
Historical Factors Shaping Modern Afghanistan
Modern War in Afghanistan: Destruction of a State
Impact of the War on Afghan State and Society
Afghanistan and the Changing Regional Environment
The Future of Afghanistan
Appendix: Major Actors in Modern Afghan History
References Cited

"A comprehensive history of Afghan politics in the 20th century, highlighting the events leading up to the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan (which effectively instigated American involvement in the region). It's useful reading for anyone who wants a guide to the overall economic, social, cultural and political situation at the present moment."
-New York Times Book Review

"After a good introductory chapter and a well-done short account of historical factors shaping Afghanistan, Goodson documents in eight stages the continual war from 1978 to early 2001. The detail of his periodization is daunting, but it brings out well the feudal reality of Afghanistan's many warring factions. . . a useful guide."
-Foreign Affairs

"The overall argument about Afghanistan's disintegration has been well covered in the media, but Goodson highlights the impact of interethnic conflicts, exacerbated by the destructive intervention of the U.S.S.R., the United States and Pakistan. There's also more depth, complexity and detail here than the media can provide."
-Publishers Weekly

"Afghanistan's Endless War is a serious study of, as its subtitle says, 'state failure, regional politics and the rise of the Taliban,' and it brings us right up to early 2001. . . Read this book and you'll come to realize that the Saudi Osama bin Laden and other terrorists were foisted on an unwilling population from the outside. Political Islam and the fundamentalist theocracy that now governs the country were also an alien and unwelcome imposition on a people happily accustomed to keeping their mullahs confined to mosques."
-Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading for anyone-and nowadays this should mean all of us-who wants to understand what Afghanistan is like and how it got to be that way."
-Journal of Democracy

"A mix of interviews with Taliban leaders and field research combine to illuminate what has been happening in Afghanistan over the last 20 years and concludes, presciently, that 'what happens in Afghanistan will continue to affect stability and security in an increasingly important region of the post-Cold War world"
-Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Goodson knows what he is talking about. He has been to the places he writes about. He knows the people. He has studied his subject carefully and closely. And he has thought about it all and turned what he knows and saw into a solid, and seriously disturbing, book. . . Readers will close this book with key knowledge they could find elsewhere only by going to multiple sources. They will also encounter a keen mind that doesn't parrot common rhetoric."
-Salem Statesman Journal

"Goodson delivers a brief but powerful analysis of the ethnic, religious, social and geographic divisions which have produced seven million refugees, two million deaths and a whole lot of heartache and pain."