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iconCRITICAL ANALYSIS Updated February 3 2010

Section Contents:  General | Insurgency & Counterinsurgency | Canada's Role | Governance | Security Sector Reform | Reconstruction | Protection of Civilians | Opium | Civil-Military Relations | Regional Issues (Iran, Pakistan) | Gender Issues | News feeds & Internet Resources | Monographs | Further Sources

Evaluations and opinions about the progress and degree of success reached by international efforts in Afghanistan are extensive and varied. Many official sources point to successes such as democratic elections and refugee returns, schools and clinics built, kilometres of irrigation canals and roads built, and millions of children returning to school. Critics describe a situation of misused resources, lost chances to deal or negotiate with the Taliban/insurgents and Al Qaeda, the booming opium economy, and a failure to stem continued meddling by neighbouring states.  

This site does not endorse one position over another and endeavours to provide as many different viewpoints as possible, allowing the user to draw his or her own conclusions about the situation in Afghanistan.


In an interview with the Sunday Times on October 5th, 2008, the outgoing commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, said he believed that the Taleban would never be defeated. War on Taliban Cannot be Won

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released in February 2007 a report evaluating the progress of the reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan.  The report, Breaking Point: Measuring Progress in Afghanistan, found that since 2005 progress has reversed in all sectors except the economy, and particularly with security. The report termed 2007 a breaking point, and recommended changes in the way assistance from the international community is delivered so that a critical mass of Afghans will experience positive change. 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published several reports on different aspects of the situation in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan: Postwar Governance, Security and U.S. Policy”, Kenneth Katzman, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, Updated June 21, 2007.

Two publications by Barnett Rubin and colleagues provide detailed evaluations of achievements so far and outline continuing challenges in security, governance, rule of law, human rights, economy, and social development fields: "Afghanistan 2005 and Beyond: Prospects for Improved Stability Reference Document" and "Afghanistan's Uncertain Transition from Turmoil to Normalcy." March 2006

Barnett Rubin, "Saving Afghanistan." Foreign Affairs January/February 2007.  Rubin identifies numerous faults in US policy towards Afghanistan, pointing out in particular Pakistan's unwillingness to address the Taliban presence in its borders, corruption amongst warlords the US supported, counterproductive opium poppy eradication schemes, and a lack of resources committed to the country.  A good overview of the immense challenges facing Afghanistan in December 2006. 

Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon's Secretary General's Reports to the Security Council provide information on progress, achievements, and obstacles still faced. The most recent report, 21 September 2007, calls for stronger leadership from the Afghan government, citing weak governance, increasing corruption, wavering public confidence and a blossoming narcotics economy.

United Nations Report of the Security Council Mission to Afghanistan. 4 December 2006. This report gives an extensive list of challenges faced in Afghanistan in late 2006.  Challenges listed included: the inadequacy of the Afghan National Police, convincing Afghans that the international community was committed to rebuilding the country, corruption, the opium trade, lack of governing capacity and poorly coordinated technical assistance strategies, unemployment, and Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.  However, the Report concluded that the Afghan government and the international community have "established a sound strategy to overcome these challenges," and it also praised the work of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board and its growing ability to address bottlenecks in implementing the Afghanistan Compact.  The report gave renewed endorsement to the Afghanistan Compact as the primary strategic framework for cooperation between the international community and the Afghan government. 

Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board "Biannual Report: Implementation of the Afghanistan Compact." November 2006. This report updates progress and challenges in light of the Afghanistan Compact goals. The report makes numerous recommendations for improving progress towards stability. Good source for broad insights. 

ACBAR Brief to the United Nations Security Council on the 'Situation in Afghanistan.'  ACBAR, an NGO coordination agency in Afghanistan, presented its briefing to the UN Security Council in November 2006. The briefing gives a good 'from the ground' perspective of the problems facing the country. 

"Interview with Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Christopher Alexander, 2 November 2006."  Audio file.  Mr. Alexander addresses the UN relationship to NATO, the insurgency, the slow pace of development, narcotics trafficking, debates about the international community and Afghanistan, and negotiating peace with the Taliban.  He provides both indicators of progress while acknowledging the serious challenges posed. 

United States Government Accountability Office, "Securing, Stabilizing, and Reconstructing Afghanistan: Key Issues for Congressional Oversight." 24 May 2007.  This report examines several security-related areas: counternarcotics, army and police training, judicial reform, NATO limitations, and reconstruction efforts.  The report finds some progress in all areas but sees continuing insecurity as severley limiting to the overall reconstruction effort.

United States Institute of Peace Briefing, "The Situation in Afghanistan: A Re-evaluation Needed." April 2007.  This is USIP's report on a presentation given by Special Representative for the Secretary General Tom Koenigs.  Mr. Koenigs stresses that the insurgency is reaching ever-higher levels and that promoting governance must be the first priority of the international community and Afghan government.

David Corn questions the Bush Administration's commitment in Afghanistan, citing the lack of clear leadership and low funding commitment. Corn quotes Barnett Rubin as saying "Everyone in the region assumes that the United States is not serious about succeeding in Afghanistan." David Corn, "Who's running Afghan policy?" The Nation 13 October 2006

Leo Docherty, "Why NATO is losing the war." Dawn 14 June 2007.  Docherty, a former British soldier with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, discusses Britain's failed strategy in Helmand province.  He focuses in particular on the failure to properly implement the 'ink blot' strategy.

Col M. D. Capstick, "A Year in Kabul: Strategic Reflections." On Track 11:3 Autumn 2006: 16-18.  Col. Capstick, who served for a year on Canada's Strategic Advisory Team to the Afghan Government in Kabul, claimed that much progress has been made in Afghanistan to date with elections, school enrollment and construction, and that most provinces in Afghanistan are stable enough for reconstruction to occur. Capstick also warned that more money is needed for development, comparing expenditures by the international community in Bosnia (US$649 per capita) to Afghanistan (US$57 per capita).

Stephen Zunes, "Afghanistan: Five Years On." Foreign Policy In Focus 13 October 2006.  Stephen Zunes of the International Relations Centre presents a scathing account of the failure of US policy to date in Afghanistan, highlighting multiple areas of policy mistakes.

Carl Robichaud, "Remember Afghanistan? A Glass Half Full, on the Titanic." World Policy Journal 23:1 Spring 2006.  Robichaud, of the Century Foundation, wrote of the challenges created by under-funding and an insufficient number of soldiers in early 2006.  Reports being written in late 2006 and early 2007 are still repeating many of Robichaud's concerns, forcing one to ask questions about the state of progress in Afghanistan.

Rory Stewart, "When less is best."  20 March 2007.  Stewart, who currently works with an NGO in Afghanistan and served with the UK Foreign Ministry in Iraq, says that the international community's goals in Afghanistan have been set too high.  The counter-insurgency campaign is a misguided policy, as it goes too far beyond securing the initial objective of fighting terrorism.  Afghans, according to Stewart, are growing disillusioned with the failure of the international community to deliver on development.  Stewart believes the international community should have only a limited role in Afghanistan. 

Rory Stewart, "Where Less Is More." New York Times 23 July 2007.  Stewart reiterates his point that sending more troops into Afghanistan will only serve the interests of the Taliban, who gain support for being the Islamic defenders against foreign occupiers.  Stewart says the current troop presence actually provoked the insurgency, and that the situation in Afghanistan is different from that of Malaysia and requires a different counter-insurgency strategy.  He recommends focusing development on the secure areas of the centre and north.   

Estanislao Oziewicz, "Winning hearts and minds, in Afghanistan and Canada." Globe and Mail 12 January 2007.  Since returning to Canada, BG Frasier continued his support for the mission through a series of public speaking and media articles. Frasier presents anecdotes about the changing styles of governance by some Afghan local officials, and also speaks against opium eradication. 

Lyse Doucet, "Afghanistan: a job half done." BBC World, 4 December 2006. BBC Afghan analyst Doucet repeats now familiar critiques about warlords and corruption in Afghanistan, but also cites former Special Representative of the Secretary General Lakdar Brahimi on the issue of failing to negotiate with the Taliban in 2001, and failing to commit sufficient resources to the mission early on.  Doucet also adds the voice of former US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to the weight of critiques.

Adam Holloway, "What the government won't tell you: we are losing Afghan hearts."

8 April 2007.  Holloway, an British Conservative MP, claimed development efforts in Helmand province were not meeting the expectations of Afghans.  He felt the military mission was out of touch with what the people needed, and that a more coordinated effort is required to win the hearts of the populations. 

Karl F. Inderfurth, "Losing the 'other war' in Afghanistan?" International Herald Tribune 29 May 2007. Inderfurth criticizes the number of civilian casualties caused by US and NATO actions in Afghanistan, and calls for a zero casualty policy.

BBC and ABC news have released results of an opinion survey of Afghans conducted in October 2006.  "Afghanistan: Where Things Stand." The results indicated that most (55%) Afghans remained hopeful that their country will improve, though the numbers were down by 22 points since October 2005.  There remained majority support for a foreign troop presence, and country-wide Afghans did not show majority support for the Taliban.  There were regional differences in such support.  Other issues covered in the survey included opium production, women's rights, and the use of suicide bombings. 

United States General Accountability Office (GAO), "Afghanistan Reconstruction: Despite some Progress, Deteriorating Security and Other Obstacles Continue to Threaten Achievement of US Goals." July 2005

Insurgency & Counterinsurgency

A detailed UNAMA study of suicide attackers in Afghanistan (released in early September 2007) found that people, children included, are coerced or duped into carrying out such attacks. The study "Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001-2007)" presents data and analysis and includes interviews with more than two dozen failed and alleged suicide attackers.

UK Parliament Select Committee on Defence, "Thirteenth Report." 3 July 2007.  Citing spreading violence, this report makes numerous recommendations for the mission in Afghanistan, focusing in particular on the lack of troops committed by other European nations, civilian casualties, and the poor state of the Afghan National Police.  The report recommends that the UN appoint a high-ranking official to coordinate international efforts in Afghanistan. 

Derek Fraser, "Afghanistan: The Realities of Peacebuilding in a Failed State." October 2006. Fraser focuses his critique on the lack of resources devoted to both security and development in Afghanistan, comparing numbers from past counter-insurgency campaigns in Malaysia and Northern Ireland to what has been committed in Afghanistan.

Peggy Mason, "Analyst says current strategy making matters worse." Globe and Mail 7 March 2006.  Peggy Mason of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre also expressed the view that there should be a greater effort towards a diplomatic solution to the Taliban conflict. Mason also alleged that coalition warfighting and reconstruction activities are not compatible missions, and create confusion.

Roland Paris, a University of Ottawa professor, claimed the international effort in Afghanistan has been insufficient. His remarks and policy recommendations are in: "NATO: go big or get out." Globe and Mail 25 October 2006.

Richard Norton Taylor, "We can win battles, says chief of NATO forces, but we need hearts and minds." Guardian Online 22 January 2007.  General David Richards, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, said NATO had proven to the Taliban that they could not be defeated on the battlefield.  He called Operation Medusa a key turning point, but warned that civilian partners like DFID must speed up the reconstruction and development effort.

"NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance." Paul Gallis, Congressional Research Service 22 August 2006.

Nicholas Watt and Ned Temko, "Failure in Afghanistan risks rise in terror, say generals." The Observer 15 July 2007.  UK Generals have warned that the consequences of failure in Afghanistan are much bigger than a failure in Iraq.  They refer to the status of the US-European security arrangement, and the possibility of a wider war across the Middle East between Sunni and Shia. The lack of a coordinated strategy and the failure to deliver development are cited as two key reasons for the worsening situation. 

Graeme Smith, "As more blood spills, the military sees progress."  Globe and Mail 2 July 2007.  Smith does not deny the incredible difficulties currently faced by the international mission in Afghanistan, but he does highlight what some see as positive changes.  He quotes military officials as saying the rate of increase of violence is down, and points to successes in eliminating some of the Taliban's leadership.  He also says the UN casts doubts on the spreading insecurity in the north of the country. 

Senlis Council, "Countering the Insurgency in Afghanistan: Losing Friends and Making Enemies." February 2007.  Senlis' latest report on the situation in Afghanistan echoes previous concerns about the dire economic situation, counter-productive poppy eradication strategies, aerial bombardments, and the insufficient amount of humanitarian and development assistance. Senlis has termed spring 2007 as a 'make or break' period for the Afghan mission.

Sanjay Suri, “Afghanistan: Military Policy ‘Barking Mad.’” IPS 25 September 2006.  Suri cites British soldiers expressing their dismay at the way counter-insurgency operations are currently conducted in Afghanistan.

The United States Central Command website provides a large number of news articles on Afghanistan, often from an on-the-ground perspective. These stories are often about the activities of soldiers and often have a civil affairs focus. They are a good source to learn about the reconstruction activities of soldiers.

The NATO in Afghanistan website provides information on the NATO mission, as well as a link to the ISAF website, which contains operational news updates on ISAF activities.

The Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) webpage contains a strategy for disbanding illegal armed groups, and a concept of operations. Online at:

Fred Kaplan, "Can Freedom and Opium Coexist?" Slate 21 June 2006. Kaplan discusses the challenges of fighting a counter-insurgency, and qotes NATO officials as saying eradication is not a viable strategy.  Kaplan quotes General David Richards as saying basic development, not complex governance structures, are what is needed first in Afghanistan. 

Conrad Schetter, "Understanding Local Violence Security Arrangements in Kandahar, Kunduz and Paktia (Afghanistan)." University of Bonn May 2007.  Schetter and colleagues of the University of Bonn did a study looking at the complexities of the warlord and tribal security structures in three Afghan provinces, Kandahar, Kunduz, and Paktia.  The study discusses briefly how US backing of warlords in the struggle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda affected power relationships.

Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason, "Understanding the Taliban and Insurgency in Afghanistan."  Center for Contemporary Conflict 17 November 2006.  Johnson argues that the Taliban is more of a tribal than an Islamist movement.  Johnson identifies the Ghilzai tribe as the main basis of the Taliban.  Johnson also claims that the coalition forces and NATO have a very poor understanding of the insurgency and are pursuing ineffective tactics reminiscent of the Vietnam War.  A much larger reconstruction effort, and a change in tactics, is needed to keep Afghanistan from "capsizing in a perfect storm of insurgency, terrorism, narcotics, and warlords."

Alan Freeman, "'Dramatic' Taliban Resurgence Detailed." Globe and Mail 14 June 2007.  Freeman reported on a November 2006 Privy Council Office Report that provided an account of the situation in Afghanistan that differed from the message being delivered by the Canadian government.  The PCO report, obtained through Access to Information requests, contradicted positive develop stories being released by the government. 

Paul Manson,"The Taliban are Overrated." Winter 2007.  Manson, the former Chief of Defence for the Canadian Forces, claimed that the Taliban suffered a severe blow in their failed attempt to take Kandahar in fall 2006.  Manson argues that suicide and other bomb attacks are a symptom that the movement is currently militarily weak. 

Jason Burke, "Hunt for 'traitors' splits Taliban."Guardian Unlimited 27 May 2007.  Burke reports on divisions and 'spies' within the Taliban and other militant movements that are leading to some high-profile killings of Taliban leaders such as Mullah Dadullah. 

Anthony Cordesman, "Iraq, the Gulf, Afghanistan: The Way Ahead." CSIS, 1 May 2007. Cordesman's slide-show style document provides statistics on insurgent attacks, Afghan opinions of the security situation, and recommendations for resolving the insecurity. 

Michael Scheuer, "Two wars, one approach." 19 April 2007.  Scheuer, the former chief of the Bin Laden unit at the CIA from 1996-1999, analyses the sharing of tactics between the Iraq and Afghanistan insurgents, and the increasingly effective media campaign waged by the insurgencies. 

Reuters, "INTERVIEW-Only peace talks can save Afghanistan-former rebel."  Abdul Salaam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, is one of fifty former Taliban officials approached by President Karzai to act as an intermediary in negotiations with the Taliban.  Zaeef claims Karzai is serious about negotiations, though he says many are skeptical that his international backers will not allow him to go forth with such a policy.  Karzai himself has claimed to have spoken to the Taliban, though a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujaheed, says the Taliban will not speak to a puppet government.  Karzai has differentiated between Afghan Taliban and foreign militants, whom he says must be ‘destroyed.” 6 April 2007 “Afghan President: I met with Taliban.”

David Montero, "New strategy in Taliban’s offensive."  David Montero examines recent Taliban tactics and sees the promised spring offensive being aimed at NATO home-country audiences in the battle for public support for the Afghan operation.  Kidnappings and killings are being used to terrorize Afghans and foreigners in Afghanistan, with the desired effect.  Aid workers and journalists are proving to not be exempt from Taliban targeting, and this could have implications for debates on NGO neutrality in this conflict environment.

Claudio Franco, "In remote Afghan camp, Taliban explain how and why they fight." San Francisco Chronicle 21 January 2007.   Journalist Claudio Franco visited an insurgent group that discussed relations between Afghans and foreign, Al Qaeda fighters, and boasted of their tactical superiority over foreign troops. 

Selig Harrison, "Discarding an Afghan Opportunity." Washington Post 30 January 2007.  In this article, Harrison pointed to the tribal link to the Taliban movement and the Ghilzai Pashtuns.  Harrison also accused the US of being in too close collusion with the Tajik leaders of the former northern alliance, and gave praise to peace deals British forces made with tribal leaders in Helmand.

Ahmed Rashid, "Pashtuns want an image change." BBC News, 2 December 2006.   Rashid covers a November 2006 'peace jirga' held by Pashtuns in western Pakistan.  The jirga indicated that there is a growing number of Pashtuns that want peace and a dissociation from the Taliban.  The article presents interesting information on Pakistani propaganda efforts to identify the Taliban with Pashtun society, from when Pakistan openly supported the Taliban prior to 9/11. 

Taliban Laheya (Book of Rules).  In November, two interviewers were given this new Taliban rule book in an interview with a high-level Taliban leader, Mullah Sabir.  The interview with Sabir sees him claiming widespread Taliban influence and a popular base of support amongst the population.  Sabir also discusses 'necessary' tactics like beheadings and suicide bombings.  He declares the Taliban policy to be "no official schools."  The Laheya also declares all NGOs to be enemies of the Taliban and agents of the government.  See: Interview with Mullah Sabir Signandsight, 28 November 2006.  Warning: As of December 2006, the validity of this document must be questioned.  Furthermore, the interview with Sabir must be seen in the context of propaganda. 

Ahmed Rashid, "Afghanistan: Taliban's Second Coming." BBC Online, 30 May 2006.  Rashid is a prolific writer and a journalist who has published extensively on Afghanistan. He offers opinions on why the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. He cites a security vacuum in the south, the failure of the West to commit sufficient financial and military resources, failed opium policies, corruption among warlord-governors, and safe havens for anti-government forces in Pakistan.

David Loyn, "Travelling with the Taliban." BBC World Online 24 October 2006. Loyn, a BBC correspondent who traveled with the Taliban in 2006, wrote of the Taliban as anti-corruption fighters and as of defending the interests of poor Afghans. The Afghans he quoted portray the British forces in Helmand as ruthless occupiers.

In an online forum where people asked questions to Loyn, Loyn said he believed the Taliban leadership is not open to dialogue with the Karzai government, and hold Karzai in contempt. Loyn also said many analysts believe Afghanistan will split into northern and southern countries. The discussion contains multiple insights into the Taliban movement. The transcript of this forum is at:

Syed Saheem Shahzad, "The battle spreads in Afghanistan." Asia Times Online 26 May 2006.  Shahzad presents his opinion on the growth of the insurgency.

Chris Sands, "Bloodshed is spreading across Afghanistan, warn aid workers." The Independent 6 June 2007. Sands reports that UN and NGO workers awitnessing teh spread of insecurity to previously stable parts of Afghanistan, jeopardizing the deliverance of development and other assistance.

Matt Dupee, "Starving Wolves: The slow death of Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami." 28 May 2007. Dupee chronicles the decline of Hekmatyar's once-powerful organization, telling of internal dissent, commanders switching to the government side, and a weakening of military capability.  However, Dupee's sources say that until Hekkmatyar himself is captured, Hezb-i-Islami will remain a threat to government and NATO forces in the east of Afghanistan. 

Imtiaz Gul, "Pakistan's Achilles Heel." The News 28 January 2007.  Gul addresses the accusations by some that Pakistan is the chief factor in the insurgency by examining other factors such as narcotics, insufficient military effort, and a poorly planned political process. 

David Rennie, "General attacks American record in Afghanistan." The Daily Telegraph online (20 January 2006)

The Senlis Council released a report in March 2007, "On a Knife Edge: Rapid Assessment Field Survey Southern and Eastern Afghanistan."  They continue to claim hearts and minds efforts are not meeting expectations and warn that support is shifting towards the Taliban in the south. 

Christina Lamb, "US Radio Ramshackle Wins Over Locals." Sunday Times online 23 October 2006.  Christina Lamb wrote a story of an allegedly successful 'hearts and minds' project by American forces in Afghanistan.

On its website, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) presents its own perspective on the situation in Afghanistan. It provides information on its efforts ‘to assist the young government [of Afghanistan] with mentoring, training, and governance, as well as counter terrorist and security support.’ The multi-national coalition led by CENTCOM, called 'Combined Joint Task Force 82', has a separate website with background information on Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

International Crisis Group “Afghanistan: New US administration new directions” 13th March 2009. A policy review by the Obama administration has reopened debate about how to defeat the forces of violent global jihadism – al-Qaeda and its Taliban protectors – in Afghanistan and in neighbouring Pakistan. In most cases, the ideas on offer – from declaring victory and pulling out, to negotiating with the insurgents, to organising regional conferences, to prioritising relationships with favoured individuals and allies over the development of strong democratic institutions – have been tried at least once in the past two decades, with no success: we know now what not to do.

Canada's Role

Peter MacKay, "Canadian Foreign Policy and Our Leadership Role in Afghanistan." Keynote address given to CDFAI Conference, 30 October 2006. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter MacKay, in an address to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, spoke only of progress and development in Afghanistan, citing money allocated to aid projects, successful elections, and Canadian democratic values at work. 

Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, "Canadian Troops in Afghanistan: Taking a Hard Look at a Hard Mission."  (February 2007)  The Standing Committee's contribution to the ongoing Afghanistan dialogue in Canada, this report is pessimistic in its findings, focusing on such problems as corruption, a lack of development, and the difficulties of operating in such a foreign culture.  The report makes several recommendations including more money for development, a military role in development, more military and police trainers, and more pressure on NATO allies to make bigger contributions to the mission. 

Government of Canada, "Report to Parliament: Canada's Mission in Afghanistan: Measuring Progress." February 2007  This report focuses on what has been achieved in Afghanistan, mentioning elections and funds contributed by Canada to the National Solidarity Program and other initiatives.  The report does point out continuing security challenges and the problem of the fluidity of the border with Pakistan, though it says there is grounds for 'cautious optimism.' 

Ernie Regehr, "Canada is ignoring its own advice." Inroads 20 Winter/Spring 2007: 62-71.  Project Ploughshares Policy Advisor Regehr comments on the need for increased development and better governance, so Afghan's can find legitimacy in the Karzai government.  Regehr argues that making a case for Canadian participation in the Afghan operation is easy, but current strategies must be reviewed.

Ernie Regehr, "Rethinking the Afghanistan Mission."  23 July 2007.  Regehr asserts that a political process to include disaffected groups in southern Afghanistan is essential if any lasting stability is to emerge.  He cites recent reports that focus on the economic and social factors behind the insurgency to support a political approach.

The Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute has published a study, "Canada in Afghanistan: Is it Working?" This report, authored by Gordon Smith of the University of Victoria, recommends that Canada seek to negotiate with the Taliban and separate them from Al Qaeda.  It also concludes that the '3Ds' of defence, diplomacy, and development are not working very well, and that NATO will not be able to meet its objective of creating a stable Afghanistan. 

Marc André Boivin, "The Afghan mission is in Canada's national interest." Inroads 20 Winter/Spring 2007: 31-41. Boivin, coordinator of the Réseau Francophone de Researche sur les Opérations de Paix, defended the international presence in Afghanistan and made the case for the mission being in Canada's national interest. Boivin did not, as some commentators do, deny that the situation is in need of great action.

Doug McArthur, "Don't leave Afghanistan in American hands." Inroads 20 Winter/Spring 2007: 42-52.   Simon Fraser University Professor McArthur puts the common criticism of insufficient efforts in governance and development into a Canadian context.  He suggests Canada's relatively large contribution in Afghanistan puts it in a position of leadership.  Canadian efforts to reform development assistance and governance structures could lead others, particularly the US, to follow. 

Seddiq Weera, "Can Canada Succeed in Afghanistan?" Interview in Mondial June 2006.  Weera criticizes the lack of a peace process in Afghanistan, claiming that the Bonn process excluded one side of a civil war. Without bringing the Taliban into the political proc reconciliation cannot be achieved in Afghanistan. See also: Seddiq Weera, "Canada should also invest in peace in Afghanistan." Toronto Star 3 March 2006

Simon Doyle, "Canada's Afghan Mission Destabilizing: James Ingalls." The Hill Times 23 October 2006. Doyle quotes James Ignalls, author of a book accusing Canadian military efforts as harmful to peacebuilding in Afghanistan. Doyle also summarizes the positions of Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal defence critic, Peter MacKay, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Jack Layton, leader of the NDP.

Bruce Campion-Smith, "Hillier touts Afghan exit plan." Toronto Star 12 July 2007.  General Rick Hillier has suggested Canada's mission in Afghanistan will switch to one of supporting the Afghan National Army, rather than leading operations. He claims the ANA units in Kandahar have shown a 'night-and-day shift' in improvements, and expects to see more by next spring. 

Bob Bergen, "Canada's Afghan contribution needs to be seen in proper context." CDAI website 10 January 2007.  Dr. Bob Bergen, a research fellow with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, wrote a rebuttal to critics of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, citing funding donations for police salaries and reconstruction as examples of Canada's commitment to a wider, non-military strategy.  Bergen also criticizes those who interpreted Barnett Rubin's work as being evidence that Afghanistan is sliding into chaos, saying that Rubin provides advice for saving Afghanistan. 

Sue Bailey, "Canadian to hand over NATO command." Globe and Mail 29 October 2006.  Brigadier-General David Frasier, on leaving his command in Afghanistan in October 2006, expressed optimism about the situation in Kandahar. He claimed there is increased activity in the city market, and that international troops are now pushing into former 'no-go' zones.

The Senlis Council, “Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban.” 5 September 2006; “Canada in Kandahar: No Peace to Keep.” 28 June 2006; and “Helmand at War: The changing nature of insurgency in Southern Afghanistan and its effects on the country.” 6 June 2006.  This Europe-based think-tank has released several reports based on field research in Afghanistan. These reports are critical of the international community’s efforts to eradicate opium and the failure to bring development to Afghanistan.


International Crisis Group, "Afghanistan's Endangered Compact." 29 January 2007.  This policy brief is a critique of the Afghanistan Compact and the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board set up to oversee the Compact.  It focuses on the lack of international accountability and monitoring in the process, the insufficient involvement of the National Assembly, the lack of a secretariat for the JCMB, and setting unattainable benchmarks. 

World Bank, "Service Delivery and Governance at the Sub-National Level in Afghanistan." 18 July 2007.  This report says not enough resources have been devoted to strengthening governance at subnational levels, allowing centralized ministries to become too powerful and giving governors too much influence in administrative affairs.  It also speculates on the fate of Community Development Councils created under the National Solidarity Program once their funding expires. 

World Bank. “Afghanistan: State Building, Sustaining Growth, and Reducing Poverty.” World Bank Publications 2005.

Bennet, Adam. “Reconstructing Afghanistan.” International Monetary Fund, 2005.

Ahto Lobjakas, "Afghanistan: Kabul's Record Criticized at Brussel's Forum." 28 April 2007.  Former US ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the Afghan government is moving away from democracy and alienating the Afghan public.   NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer echoed concerns about the values of the Afghan government, and expressed concerns that coordination of international effforts is not sufficient, and that an international coordinator was needed. Fawzai Koofi, an Afghan parliamentarian, said perhaps the current system of government in Afghanistan is too centralized. 

Human Rights Watch issued a report criticizing the Bonn Agreement in 2002. A useful source to compare analysis from the early stages of the Afghan mission. "Afghanistan's Bonn Agreement One Year Later: A Catalogue of Missed Opportunities." 5 December 2002

Ann Jones, "How US Dollars disappear in Afghanistan: quickly and thoroughly." San Francisco Chronicle 4 September 2006.  Ann Jones writes on corruption in Afghanistan amongst the Afghan government and foreign contractors.

Ann Scott Tyson, "General Warns of Perils in Afghanistan."(14 February 2007)  General Karl Eikenberry, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, warned that the Afghan government is losing the struggle against corruption and narcotics, and that justice and law enforcement are poorly developed.  Eikenberry also recommended applying more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Taliban leadership networks in Pakistani territory.

Mike Blanchfield, "Corruption fighters." Ottawa Citizen 22 July 2007.   Interviews with soldiers and Deputy SRSG Chris Alexander portray the huge extent of corruption in Afghanistan, from village councils to the highest levels of government.  Both sources say the fight against corruption has only just begun. 

Pamela Constable, "Top Prosecutor Targets Afghanistan's Once Untouchable Bosses." Washington Post 23 November 2006.  Abdul Jabar Sabit was appointed Attorney General in August 2006.  Since his appointment he has been heralded as an anti-corruption crusader, though the resiliency of the corrupt warlords presents an enormous challenge.  Sabit has said that the international community must remove the warlords from power.

International Crisis Group “Afghanistan: Elections and Crisis of Governance” 25th November 2009. This report analyzes the flawed election results and crisis of confidence it has created among the Afghan people in their government. The ICG criticises the international community for too often looking at elections as a box they can check off. This report warn them that military strategies, state-building concepts and troop deployment matter little if they cannot cauterize the damage.

International Crisis Group “Afghanistan: What now for refugees?” 31st August 2009. As international efforts focus on the worsening insurgency in Afghanistan, the issues of refugee return and the mobility of Afghans in their country and around the region have been overshadowed. Cross-border mobility will continue regardless of any attempts to curtail it. Efforts to improve security within Afghanistan and in the region must therefore integrate internal and cross-border population movements.

International Crisis Group “Afghanistan’s election challenge” 24th June 2009. With the upcoming presidential elections, The weakness of state institutions, the deteriorating security situation and the fractured political scene are all highlighted by – and will likely have a dramatic effect on – the electoral process.

Security Sector Reform

International Crisis Group, "Reforming Afghanistan's Police." August 2007. The authors of this report emphasize that policing goes to the very heart of state building, since a credible national institution that helps provide security and justice for the population is central to government legitimacy. They found that Afghanistan’s citizens often view the police more as a source of fear than of security. The authors suggest that instead of emphasising their coercive powers, reform should focus on accountability, ethnic representation and professionalism, along with an urgent need to depoliticise and institutionalise appointments and procedures.

Andrew Wilder, "Cops or Robbers? The Struggle to Reform the Afghan National Police." AREU July 2007.   This detailed report identifies five key problem areas with police training: lack of a shared vision for the police (German civil protection view versus an American counter-insurgency view), reform of the highly corrupt Ministry of Interior, training quality police officers a opposed to more poorly trained officers, integrating the five SSR pillars into a coherent and coordinated plan, and creating security structures that are fiscally sustainable. 

The United States General Accountability Office has reports available on Afghanistan.
See: "Afghanistan Security: Efforts to Establish Army and Police have made Progress, but Future Plans Need to be Better Defined." June 2005

David Zucchino, "US, NATO troops keep Afghan army from collapse." Los Angeles Times 24 November 2006. Zucchino's article highlights the challenges facing the Afghan army: poor equipment, desertion, discipline, and poor rates of re-enlistment. 

Terry Friel, "Afghan police turn Taliban strengths against them." Reuters 15 November 2006.  Terry Friel discusses a renewed emphasis on strengthening the Afghan police in Kandahar province.  His article addresses the issue of who can provide security.  By strengthening and improving police, locals will look to them for security as opposed to the Taliban.


The Afghan National Development Strategy website provides updates on ANDS implementation and consultations, in addition to the ANDS itself.

The "Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007" presents the latest statistics on human development in the country, including progress made so far in achieving its Millennium Development Goals. The focus of this year's report is on rule of law.

The Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), "'A to Z Guide' of Afghanistan Assistance."   This guide includes a glossary of terms connected to the operation in Afghanistan, maps, an overview of Afghanistan's government structure, downloadable documents, and an extensive contact list. This is a very comprehensive source. 

USAID provides detailed information on its operations in Afghanistan, along with its aid strategy. See the USAID Afghanistan website

United Nations Development Program's website provides extensive information on UNDP's and other international development activities in Afghanistan. The site also links a UNDP newsletter which highlights major UNDP activities.

Jason Motlagh, “Analysis: Afghanistan Plans for the Future.” United Press International 28 September 2006.  The view of the Afghan Minister of Economy, Jalil Shams, in respect to Afghanistan’s economic development and opium cultivation, is found in this report.

Lara Logan, "Billions In Aid Wasted In Afghanistan." CBS News 25 May 2007.  Poorly planned and unfinished reconstruction projects have led to great waste and contribute to the failure to win 'hearts and minds.' 

Christina Caan and Scott Worden, "Rebuilding Civil Society in Afghanistan: Fragile Progress and Formidable Obstacles." United States Institute of Peace July 2007.  This report highlights the difficulties in creating a capable civil society in Afghanistan.  It claims the Afghan government is largely opposed to Afghan NGOs. 

Jon Hemming, "Next to violence, corruption biggest problem." Reuters Alertnet 9 July 2007.  Hemming interviews Afghan Central Bank governor Noorullah Delawari discusses the impact corruption has on Afghanistan, and claims sixty percent of development funds are lost to corruption.  He estimates eighty percent of this goes back into the pockets of foreigners, and that money should be channeled through the Afghan government to avoid this.

Barry Bearak, "As War Enters Classrooms, Fear Grips Afghans."New York Times 10 July 2007.  Bearak reports on the impact the recent slaying of two women Afghan students has had on public confidence, and discusses the apalling state of some 'schools' in the country.  Mohammad Atmar, the new education minister, hopes to make a difference.  His plans include building madrassas to keep students from going to Pakistani madrassas. 

Soutik Biswas, "Afghan schools try to make a new start."BBC World Service 20 June 2007.  Attacks on Afghan schools have hindered development, but a program encouraging locals to defend schools themselves is apparently bearing some fruit.  However, people insist that the government must take responsibility for the security of schools and must also spend more on education.

David Loyn, "Aid failings 'hit Afghan progress.'" BBC World Service 26 June 2007.  Loyn investigates the inefficiency of aid and the unwillingness of the US to channel aid through the Afghan government.  He reports slow progress in this area and comments on an invigorated British effort, but also claims some officials now believe the opium problem is out of control.

NPR Frontline, "Afghanistan: A House for Haji Baba." October 2003.

This documentary tracks the efforts of former journalist Sarah Chayes in undertaking a housing reconstruction project in Kandahar province. The film illustrates the challenges of official corruption and coordinating efforts with recipients.

Protection of Civilians

Human Rights Watch has released a new study, "The Human Cost: The Consequences of Insurgent Attacks in Afghanistan." HRW's new report calculates the number of civilians killed by insurgent and NATO attacks in Afghanistan in 2006, though the report focuses on the insurgent attacks.  The report says many attacks on civilians were intentional, and are in violation of the laws of war.

In its report “Economic and Social Rights in Afghanistan II”, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) outlines key challenges and recommendations with regard to the advancement of economic and social rights in Afghanistan. Over 11,000 people were interviewed, with particular attention to returnees, vulnerable groups as well as people living in remote rural areas.


UNODC “Afghanistan Opium Survey 2009” December 2009

In August 2007, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that opium production in Afghanistan had ‘soared to frightening redord levels’ with an increase on 2006 of more than a third. The "Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007" found that despite the overall increase, twice as many provinces are now drug-free in northern and central Afghanistan, and the report says growing opium poppies is now closely linked to the insurgency in the south.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, "Afghanistan: Opium Winter Rapid Assessment Survey." February 2007.  An annual survey of opium in Afghanistan citing hectares cultivated, hectares eradicated, number of people involved in opium cultivation, value of the opium crop, and even the estimated profits earned by foreign traffickers. A very comprehensive resource. The 2006 survey claimed that licit opium production is a generation away, as the Afghan government has no capacity to manage this.

The US Department of State issued a Reply to the UNODC's 2006 Afghanistan Opium Survey. While the UNODC reported marked increases in cultivation and poor results from eradication policies, the US reply was that the current strategy of alternative livelihoods, eradication, interdiction, and prosecution is sound and just needs more time to become effective.

United States General Accountability Office (GAO), "Afghanistan Drug Control: Despite Improved Efforts, Deteriorating Security Threatens US Goals." 1 November 2006.

Jon Lee Anderson, "The Taliban's Opium War." The New Yorker 9 July 2007.  Anderson reports on eradication efforts from the perspective of a DEA official and a group of DynCorp employees working in Uruzgan.  The various tensions with the ISAF forces, the local police, and local farmers all become apparent.  The article demonstrates how ISAF forces view eradication as counterproductive to their mandate.  

Eric Green, "United States Opposes Legalizing Opium Poppy Crop in Afghanistan." US Department of State 5 June 2007.  Thomas Schweich, the US coordinator for counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, makes the case for not legalizing opium poppy cultivation.  His primary objection is that legal opium cannot compete with illegal opium. 

Nick Grono and Joanna Nathan, "Defeating Afghanistan's drug fix."  Christian Science Monitor 31 May 2007.  Grono and Nathan argue against the strategy of opium eradication, saying that it will only drive up demand in the end.  They also argue against the licensing production option presented by the Senlis Counci, saying legal crops are not as profitable for farmers and that Afghanistan lacks the infrastructure to manage this.  They see a long process of building governance and a justice system, along with a major development effort to address rural poverty, combined with targeting major traffickers as the only viable solution to the opium issue. 

James Risen, "Poppy Fields Are Now a Front Line in Afghanistan War." NY TImes 16 May 2007. This New York Times articles discusses current US efforts to combat the drug trade while also looking at the failure of the US administration to develop a counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan until 2004.  The article refers to differing opinions between the State and Defence departments, and a failure to see the connections between the drug trade and the insurgency.

Dr. Doug Bland of Queen's University argued in his piece "There is no Afghan poppy problem" that opium is not an Afghan problem, it is a western problem.  Until the demand side is properly dealt with, no progress will be made fighting a war on drugs at the field level in Afghanistan.

Ann Jones, "US's Afghan policies going up in smoke." Asia Times Online 1 November 2006.  Ann Jones, who spent four years living and working in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban, writes of the US government's opium eradication policy and its ineffectiveness in curbing the global supply of heroin, reducing the amount of opium cultivated, stemming the insurgency, and the fact that the US encouraged Afghans to grow opium during the Soviet occupation in order to fund anti-Soviet activities.  Jones gave the following discouraging numbers about the government: of 249 members of the lower house, 17 are known drug traffickers, 40 are commanders of armed militias, 24 are members of criminal gangs, and 19 are accused of serious human rights violations and war crimes.

Civil-Military Relations

USAID "Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: An Interagency Assessment." June 2006.

Cordaid, a Dutch NGO, released a study on the debate over NGO and military interaction in Afghanistan. This study, “Principle’s and Pragmatism: Civil-Military Action in Afghanistan and Liberia.” is summarized and available online at Reliefweb:

The United States Institute of Peace has published an oral history project of interviews of government officials, soldiers, and NGO personnel who have worked with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan. Most of the interviews were conducted in 2005. Online at:

Robert Perrito, "The US Experience with Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan: Lessons Identified." USIP, October 2005. A somewhat dated study that nevertheless identified many of the core challenges facing PRTs and the problems NGOs have with them. 

Michael J. Dziedzic and Colonel Michael K. Seidl, "Provincial Reconstruction Teams: Military Relations with International and Nongovernmental Organizations in Afghanistan."USIP, August 2005.

Regional Issues (Iran, Pakistan)

Ahmed Rashid, "America's Bad Deal with Musharraf Going Down in Flames."  17 June 2007.  Rashid discusses Musharraf's efforts to remain in power and the unequivocal support offered to him by the US Department of State.  According to Rashid, this is undermining democracy in the country and steering it towards failure.  Rashid laments the lack of personnel knowledgable on Pakistan in the State Department.

Globe and Mail, "Full text of interview with Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf." 23 May 2007  President Musharraf gives his take on events in Pakistan, including the relationship of Pakistan to the growth of the Taliban movement and the understanding of the West of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

NPR Frontline, "Return of the Taliban." 15 August 2006.  Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin talks about the historical context of the conflict along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Amond many topics, Rubin mentions the fact that this is not the 'War on Terror' for Pakistan, it is part of a much longer historical struggle.  Rubin claims the American administration has failed to recognize this. 

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "Threats to Afghanistan's Transition." 8 May 2007.   This transcript of a discussion with William Maley, Marvin Weinbaum, and Teresita Schaffer provides perspectives on the involvement of Pakistan in Afghanistan and also the spread of Taliban influence in Pakistan.  The participants also discuss the possible roles and motivations Iran has in Afghanistan.

Declan Walsh, "Arrested in Afghanistan." Guardian 23 April 2007. Walsh discusses the accusations and denials about Iranian activity in Afghanistan.

Farah Stockman, "Amid tensions, US, Iran both give lift to Afghanistan city."  Boston Globe 21 April 2007.  Stockman discusses the impact of Iranian aid in Herat vis-a-vis a smaller amount of US assistance. 

Dario Christiani, "Afghanistan's Role in Iranian Foreign Policy."  Power and Interest News Report 26 April 2007.  A discussion of Iranian motives for either assisting the Afghan government or aiding the insurgency.   It is not clear if the latter is occuring. 

Ismail Khan, "The root of the problem." Dawn 29 April 2007.  This article delves into the tensions, tribal issues, and politics behind 'talibanization' in Pakistan. 

PBS Frontline, “The Return of the Taliban.” Originally aired 3 October 2006. Available online: This one-hour program examines the support for the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan’s western frontier, and the degree of involvement of the Pakistani government in dealing with this issue.

Council on Foreign Relations, “NATO and the Afghan-Pakistani Border.” 3 August 2006

International Crisis Group “Pakistan: Countering Militancy in FATA” 21 October 2009. While state institutions in FATA are increasingly dysfunctional, the militants have dismantled or assumed control of an already fragile tribal structure. This encroaching Talibanisation is not the product of tribal traditions or resistance. It is the result of short-sighted military policies and a colonial-era body of law that isolates the region from the rest of the country, giving it an ambiguous constitutional status and denying political freedoms and economic opportunity to the population. While the militants’ hold over FATA can be broken, the longer the state delays implementing political, administrative, judicial and economic reforms, the more difficult it will be to stabilise the region.

International Crisis Group “Pakistan’s IDP crisis: Challenges and opportunities” 3 June 2009. Almost three million internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled to camps, homes, schools and other places of shelter across Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). The challenge for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government and international actors is to make relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts responsive to needs and empower local communities in Malakand Division. Failure to do so will reverse any gains on the battlefield and boost radical Islamist groups.


Gender Issues


UNAMA/OCHA “Silence is Violence: End the abuse of women in Afghanistan” July 2009 July 2009. Violence is pervasive throughout Afghanistan. It has diverse manifestations in different parts of the country. Violence against women is widespread and deeply-rooted as well as acute. The violence which scars the lives of a huge proportion of Afghan women and girls is rooted in Afghan culture, customs, attitudes, and practices. The report seeks to put back on the agenda some of the issues pertaining to the enjoyment of all human rights by all Afghan women that are being increasingly ignored.


Human Rights Watch “We have the promises of the world” December 2009. This 96-page report details emblematic cases of ongoing rights violations in five areas: attacks on women in public life; violence against women; child and forced marriage; access to justice; and girls' access to secondary education.

Soutik Biswas, "Women under siege in Afghanistan." BBC World Service 20 June 2007. Biswas reports on the state of constant threat endured by some women MPs, as well as the social difficulties facing many Afghan women.

Craig Charney and Isobel Coleman, "There are grounds for hope in Afghanistan." Globe and Mail 18 June 2007.  Charney and Coleman cite results from and ABC news survey to indicate that Afghans have mostly turned away from the Taliban's strict policies towards women.  They cite anecdotal evidence of schools being rebuilt four times by local communities to show Afghan determination.

Brinley Bruton, "Afghan women suffer in silence." Reuters 14 November 2006Brinley Bruton, using the experience of one woman's plight in Afghanistan, not only demonstrates the societal challenges women face, but also the dangers of aid projects that focus exclusively on women.  By excluding men in a patriarchal society, there can be a backlash at women's expense. 

"Afghan women seek death by fire." BBC 16 November 2006  The title of this article is explicit in its position on the plight of Afghan women.  One issue focused on is forced marriage and the trauma it can cause. 

"Afghanistan's only female minister takes on domestic violence." Associated Press  21 November 2006   This article discusses the efforts of Minister Hussn Banu Ghazanfar to pass legislation banning forced marriages and establishing safe shelters for women. 

Natasha Walter, "We are just watching things get worse." The Guardian 28 November 2006 Natasha Walter summarizes the plight of Afghan women and their disappointment in the lack of change since the US-led intervention.  Walter ties the lack of progress in women's rights to the failure of the international community to deliver on development promises, and US backing of the warlords. 

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, "Evaluation report on General Situation of Women in Afghanistan." April 2006.

News feeds & Internet Resources

Afghanistan Conflict Monitor This website is a project of the Human Security network at Simon Fraser University.  The site summarizes and links to the latest studies, news items, and reports on Afghanistan.  It is complimented by a news update service that users can subscribe to, Afghanistan Security News.

Afghanistan is an online news site that provides daily news stories on the situation in Afghanistan.

e-Ariana is another online news source providing current news articles on Afghanistan from a large variety of sources. It also includes archived articles.

Afghan Links presents users with up-to-date news items on Afghanistan as well as linking key Afghan resources.  Users can contribute material to the site, and there is also a listserve available. 

WarReport is a site providing news updates, opinion pieces, and articles on Afghanistan (and Iraq). Old material is archived, and it includes an 'Editor's picks' section. WarReport is a project of the US-based Project on Defence Alternatives. A very in-depth resource.

Opérations de Paix provides information on the mission in Afghanistan as well as 32 other peace operations, in French.

Crisis Profile, Afghanistan, Reuters Alertnet

Afghanistan Watch collects news feeds on Afghanistan-related articles and organizes them by subject heading. 

Afghanwire is a collection of stories from Afghan news sources, providing a local perspective on various issues.  The site offers a daily email listserve of events. 

Development Gateway maintains a website providing news updates and links to other resources on Afghanistan.

Reliefweb Country Page for Afghanistan Provides a newsfeed of development and security-related articles and resources. 

International Crisis Group Security in Afghanistan Provides assessments and evaluations of the current situation in Afghanistan. 

British Agencies Afghanistan Group publishes a Monthly Review on Afghanistan.  This publication functions as an update of the situation on the ground. 


Barth, Kelly. “The Rise and Fall of the Taliban.” Greenhaven Press, 2005.

Chayes, Sarah. "The Punishment of Virture: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban." Penguin Press, 2006. 

Conte, Alex. "Security in the 21rst Century: The United Nations, Afghanistan, and Iraq." Ashgate, 2005. This book includes a discussion of the legal implications of the invasion and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Donini, Antonio. “Nation-building Unraveled? Aid, Peace and Justice in Afghanistan.” Kumarian Press, 2004.

Dorronsoro, Gilles. “Revolution Unending: Afghanistan, 1979 to the Present.” Columbia University Press, 2005.

Ewans, Sir Martin. "Conflict in Afghanistan: Studies in Asymmetric Warfare." Routledge 2005.

Griffin, Michael. “Reaping the Whirlwind: Afghanistan, Al-Qa’ida, and the Holy War.” Pluto Press, 2003.

Ignatieff, Michael. “Empire Light: Nation-building in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan.” Vintage, 2003.

Jalali, Ali Ahmad. "Afghan Guerilla Warfare: In the Words of the Mujahideen Fighters." Zenith Press, 2002.

Jones, Ann. "Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan." Metropolitan Books, 2006. 

Nojumi, Neamatollah. “The Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Mass Mobilization, Civil War, and the Future of the Region.” Palgrave, 2002.

Rashid, Ahmed. “Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.” Yale University Press, 2000.

Roberts, Jeffery J. “The Origins of Conflict in Afghanistan.” Praeger, 2003.

Rotberg, Robert I. ed. "Building a New Afghanistan." Brookings Institution Press, 2007.  This book focuses on alternatives to opium poppy eradication, and the economic development of Afghanistan.

Saikal, Amin. “Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival.” I.B. Taurus, 2004.

Tanner, Stephen. “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban.” Da Capo Press, 2002.

Williams, Garland H. “Engineering Peace: The Military Role in Post-Conflict Reconstruction.” United States Institute of Peace Press, 2005.

Further Sources

The Center on International Cooperation maintains a research project on Afghanistan and has links to a number of publications related to Afghanistan's development.

McMaster University in Canada ran an Afghan Peace Project. This site has not been updated since 2003, but it does offer an excellent and detailed conflict map of Afghanistan, highlighting multiple historical and current sources of conflict in the country. Online at:

Barnett Rubin also administers a Yahoo! user group on Afghanistan, Barnett Rubin's Afghanistan List.  The group includes a newsletter of up-to-date news releases and articles on Afghanistan, as well as a forum for discussion.  It is available at

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. This site contains regular news updates on the situation in Afghanistan and UN-related activities, in addition to a conflict background, a link to relevant publications and UN documents, and an overview of the UN in Afghanistan.

UNAMA produces a publication, Afghan Update, which is released irregularly. This publication offers a variety of UN-related and non-related stories.

Swisspeace manages "FAST International" which provides a detailed country update on Afghanistan.

International Crisis Group monitors conflicts based on qualitative data and produces comprehensive reports on selected topics to the overall situation in Afghanistan.

There are several 'Who's Who' resources available on the internet. See: Infoplease,; BBC, "Afghanistan's Powerbrokers."; BBC, "Key Afghan Players: who's who." The Guardian online, "Who's who in Afghanistan." Afghanistan Online, "Political Parties/Groups and Leaders in Afghanistan."

Internet Guide to Sources on Afghanistan, INCORE,

Afghanistan Research Newsletter, No. 9, April 2006. (Lists all latest research and publications on Afghanistan)

Afghanistan by Numbers, Centre for American Progress

Jonathan Goodhand and Mark Sedra, "Bargains for Peace? Aid, Conditionalities, and Reconstruction in Afghanistan.  Clingendael (August 2006).

“Afghanistan Four Years On: An Assessment.” Sean M. Maloney, Parameters, Autumn 2005, pp.21-32.

“Afghanistan: Peacebuilding in a Regional Perspective.” Christian Michelsen Institute,

“The Afghanistan Index”, The Brookings Institution, Detailed indices on Afghanistan developments up to Dec. 2005.

Afghanistan Interactive Map, Reuters Alertnet Site

Fred Kaplan, "Knitting Together an Afghan Strategy." 20 June 2006

Foreign Policy – The AfPak Channel

Foreign Policy – The AfPak Channel Reading List

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime – Afghanistan



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