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Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace

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The West has never understood Afghanistan. It has been portrayed as both an exotic and remote land of turbaned warriors and as a 'failed' state requiring our humanitarian assistance. Politically marginal after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Afghanistan's strategic importance re-emerged after September 11th 2001, when the 'war on terror' was launched as part of a new gene The West has never understood Afghanistan. It has been portrayed as both an exotic and remote land of turbaned warriors and as a 'failed' state requiring our humanitarian assistance. Politically marginal after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Afghanistan's strategic importance re-emerged after September 11th 2001, when the 'war on terror' was launched as part of a new generation of international interventions. Drawing on the experience of a decade and a half of living and working in Afghanistan, Chris Johnson and Jolyon Leslie examine what the changes of recent years have meant in terms of Afghans' sense of their own identity and argues that if there is to be a hope of peace and stability, there needs to be a new form of engagement with the country, which respects the rights of Afghans to determine their own political future while recognising the responsibilities that must follow an intervention in someone else's land.


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The West has never understood Afghanistan. It has been portrayed as both an exotic and remote land of turbaned warriors and as a 'failed' state requiring our humanitarian assistance. Politically marginal after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Afghanistan's strategic importance re-emerged after September 11th 2001, when the 'war on terror' was launched as part of a new gene The West has never understood Afghanistan. It has been portrayed as both an exotic and remote land of turbaned warriors and as a 'failed' state requiring our humanitarian assistance. Politically marginal after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Afghanistan's strategic importance re-emerged after September 11th 2001, when the 'war on terror' was launched as part of a new generation of international interventions. Drawing on the experience of a decade and a half of living and working in Afghanistan, Chris Johnson and Jolyon Leslie examine what the changes of recent years have meant in terms of Afghans' sense of their own identity and argues that if there is to be a hope of peace and stability, there needs to be a new form of engagement with the country, which respects the rights of Afghans to determine their own political future while recognising the responsibilities that must follow an intervention in someone else's land.

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