Academic journal article Military Review

THE FRAGMENTATION OF AFGHANISTAN: State Formation and the Collapse of the International System

Academic journal article Military Review

THE FRAGMENTATION OF AFGHANISTAN: State Formation and the Collapse of the International System

Article excerpt

THE FRAGMENTATION OF AFGHANISTAN: State Formation and the Collapse of the International System, Barnett R. Rubin, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2002, 420 pages, $35.00.

The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and the Collapse of the International System remains the best single source for understanding the collapse of social order, discipline, mores, and structure in that war-torn state. Barnett R. Rubin, perhaps the West's leading non-Afghan authority on Afghanistan, first published this landmark study in 1995. The book's prophetic last sentence states, "If the international community does not find a way to rebuild Afghanistan, a floodtide of weapons, cash, and contraband will escape that state's porous borders and make the world less secure for all." Unfortunately, that prediction came true. Following the events of 11 September 2001, the world's attention finally fixed on Afghanistan. The book is belatedly receiving the attention it deserves.

An excellent account of the history of Afghanistan, Rubin's book emphasizes the period of the SovietAfghan War (1979-1989) and afterward. When the Soviet Union withdrew from the region and collapsed, the United States also disengaged from the region. Afghanistan had fought a war with a superpower, lost well over a million citizens, and was left without a legitimate state and national leadership. Its best and brightest citizenry was scattered across the globe. The economy was shattered, and a country that had once exported food could no longer feed itself. What Afghanistan had in abundance was warlords, disease, and poverty. …

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