The Taliban committed millions of acts of fundamentalist-based violence. They isolated women, forced them to wear the Burka, the most conservative of Islamic veils, closed girls schools, forced women to stop working and beat people on the street for even the most minor infractions. Additionally they devastated the cultural history of the nation and added to the general destruction of the nation.
The Overthrow of the Taliban by U.S. Invasion
The Taliban was not overthrown until around 2001, when the U.S. invaded the nation, with UN forces, post the 9-11 terrorist attacks. The Taliban, who had never been recognized by most foreign nations as the legitimate government of Afghanistan refused to turn over the leader of Al Qaeda who was reported to be hiding there and being sheltered and aided by the Taliban. Though the regime toppled under U.S. force, the devastation of their wake was felt in every aspect of Afghani culture. This is a very simplistic overview of the reasons behind the invasion but what the invasion and subsequent conflict has created is awareness of the Taliban's wrath and the fundamental destruction it has exerted on the nation. It is actually unlikely that the U.S. would have intervened or that anyone in popular western society would be aware of this fundamental challenge to the liberal/democratic goal of independence and democratic progress for all nations had Afghanistan not harbored Osama Bin Laden or been at the seat of the fundamentalism that swept the region at the time. Yet, it is also safe to say that the invasion has yet to prove a success as resurgence of conflict continues, in part due to the haste associated with reinstating tribal leaders as the dominant voice of government in the nation. It does however go without saying, that the tribal leaders still held significant power in many places in Afghanistan for both good and bad reasons and that there was no other real logical choice for leadership, regardless of the history of infighting among them, "democratic" elections or not. These are the people who are being elected. (Ponzio, 2007, p. 255)
One comprehensive analysis of the 2005 wolesi jirga elections estimated that 133 of 249 members fought in the jihad against the Soviets and approximately 113 belong to or are affiliated with conservative/fundamentalist or moderate/traditional Islamic parties. (Ponzio, 2007, p. 255)
Despite the commonly held idea that the conflict is nearing an end the reality is that the nation is unlikely to recover or more logically rebuild (into a new and modern Afghanistan) until the infrastructure is redeveloped and people feel safe to return to their homes. Fundamentally, what has come from the situation is many years of social and political depravity, a debased and destroyed infrastructure, millions dead and even more millions as refugees who would like to return but have no prospects in doing so, with regard to economic redevelopment or even a feeling of security. (Martin, 2008, p. 89)
Though it may be an oversimplification the postmodern (postcolonial) theories are often those best used to describe the whole of Afghani history, as if imperial interest had not driven the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan and it had not had to fight for independence, aided by the liberal intervention of the U.S. The nation would likely be in good enough shape to rebuild from less fundamental conflict. The wars have raged for so long in the nation that the culture will likely have to redefine itself by its own standards and spend another three or four decades recovering. To some degree the idea of the postmodern (post-colonial) theories as well as the ideals of liberalism are the two theories that in juxtaposition explain the continued conflict in Afghanistan, as incompatible ideologies together worked to destroy the nation, and it still remains to be seen if new foreign intervention will aid it Afghanistan's ability to rebuild and possibly even shift control to leaders who might have better fundamental interests than those it has had to rely upon in the past. Obama's cabinet has not been in place long enough to know if the foreign intervention offered by it will help or hurt the challenged nation to rebuild into a strong cohesive nation, in whatever form it takes politically or otherwise.
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Ponzio, R.J. (2007). Transforming Political Authority: UN Democratic Peacebuilding in Afghanistan. Global…