The US State-building in Afghanistan: An Offshore Balance?

Date01 June 2019
DOI10.1177/0973598418804292
Published date01 June 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Article
1
Graduate Student, Department of Politics and Government, Illinois State University,
Normal, IL, USA.
Corresponding author:
Md. Mizanur Rahman, Graduate Student, Department of Politics and Government, Illinois
State University, Normal, IL 61790-4600, USA.
E-mail: mrahma3@ilstu.edu
The US State-building
in Afghanistan: An
Offshore Balance?
Md. Mizanur Rahman1
Abstract
The US policy in Afghanistan in the context of 9/11, under the broader
rubric of the War on Terror (WoT), primarily was to topple the Taliban
regime. Because the regime disagreed to comply with the US administra-
tion’s demand to extradite Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind
of the terrorist attack in the USA in 2001. However, the WoT project
did not end with the collapse of the Taliban regime, but rather, it was
transformed to a state-building project in Afghanistan. Why was the WoT
project shifted to state-building, a project which has been in continua-
tion for last 17 years? This article investigates the post-9/11 US policy
in Afghanistan from the perspective of offensive realism. Particularly, it
examines the causes behind the US policy shift in Afghanistan from the
WoT to a state-building project and its continuity. The article argues
that US state-building in Afghanistan has been driven by two major
motivations: the first is to maximize security by securitizing itself from
further terrorist attacks, and the second policy priority is to prevent
other regional hegemons to emerge in South Asia. It further contends
that through the Afghanistan policy, the US administration maintains an
onshore balance against China and offshore balance against India.
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
23(1) 81–104, 2019
2019 Jadavpur University
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-
permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/0973598418804292
journals.sagepub.com/home/jnr
82 Jadavpur Journal of International Relations 23(1)
Keywords
US policy, War on Terror, offensive realism, state-building, Afghanistan
Introduction
President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghan strategy in August 2017.
He became the third American president to associate himself with this
longest running and one of the costliest wars of the USA. Approximately
10,000 US troops, and more than twice as many US contractors, remain
deployed in this war-torn state (Peters et al. 2017). The president reversed
his campaign pledge that promised to pull US troops from Afghanistan.
The Trump administration, however, asserted this as a new strategy—a
clear break from President Barack Obama’s approach—but in reality, it
is only a moderate adjustment of a core strategy that has been in place for
years (Miller 2017). His predecessor, Barak Obama, the ‘antiwar’ candi-
date of 2008 who had similarly vowed to turn around Afghanistan from
the George W. Bush’s ‘bad war, to ‘good war, could do little justice to
his commitment. The optimistic president, Barak Obama, who once
thought Afghanistan was winnable had, through bitter experience,
become the commander in chief of a forever war (Landler 2017).
Likewise, after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attack,
President George W. Bush intervened in Afghanistan under the project of
War on Terror (WoT), only to overthrow the Taliban regime (Guardian,
2001). Rashid (2008) argues that the Bush administration swiftly
attempted to declare victory in Afghanistan, get out of it, and move on to
Iraq. However, the administration surprisingly reversed the policy and
turned Afghanistan into a state-building project through the Bonn
Agreement on December 5, 2001. The project has been consistent for the
last 17 years. Presidents in the USA changed, but the US policy in
Afghanistan rather unaffectedly sustained. Why did the US policy in
Afghanistan shift from the WoT to a state-building project? Why has
state-building been a continuous venture for the last 17 years?
This article examines the causes of the US policy shift in Afghanistan
and its continuity from the perspective of offensive realism. It argues that
the US state-building in Afghanistan has been driven by two major moti-
vations: the first is to securitize the USA from future terrorist attacks for
the maintenance of the present international system, and the second
motivation is to prevent other regional hegemons in South Asia to

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT