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United States Strategic interests in Afghanistan War

February 19, 2020

By: Waseem Akhtar

The theory of just war began in the service of the powers those who are struggling for imperial peace. It made war possible in a world where war is sometimes obligatory.[1]  The United States did not want leave strategic heaven Afghanistan which is located in the center of her global competitors, US critical rival Iran, global competitor China, natural resources rich Central Asia, traditionally nuclear rivals India and Pakistan and the disputed territory of Kashmir. Political instability and presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan ensure her troops’ presence on the borders of China and Iran. Afghanistan will be the next state with permanent US military presence even after peace as she has in Iraq and South Korea.

United State’s national security narrative is dominated by the idea that weak or failing countries posing danger to her national interests with breeding terrorism, crime, chaos, and threat to regional peace. To eliminate these threats at their roots the strategy is to reach out to those states and help them to stabilize, engaging in state building on the neo-imperial scale.[2] In President Donald Trump era United State’s state building is declined because the US can no longer afford misadventures such as Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 Afghanistan has traditionally remained the center of contention among the global major powers. History witnessed no external power who struggle for control and influence was never successive. The vulnerability of Afghanistan due to her huge natural reserves an estimated 57.8 mt copper reserves, 2438 mt¹ iron ore, 2698  kg gold, 151.5 mt barite, 4.5 mt² bauxite, 4.88 mt³ rare-earth elements, 1596 mmbbls⁴ oil and natural gas liquids, 15.7 Tcf⁴ natural reserves.[3]  Natural gas proved deposits are greater than 60000 million cubic meters in a single field of Mazar Sharif.[4]  These are very huge natural resources reserves which are one among the few countries of the world. Afghanistan is politically unstable since the four decades and is a state of insecurity due to these world players try to create influence here to gain advantages from her resources (natural and strategic).

All the strategies of United States are badly fail in Afghanistan to gain influence, forcing the law and order, bring political stability and to countering extremism and terrorism. Another misunderstanding that United States wants to deal Pakistan and Afghanistan with using same tactics that is the reason behind hate and anger for the U.S. in both the states. To secure the road and pipeline projects Afghanistan manage peace talks with Taliban. Afghan President Ghani said that today we are living in the world where states turn from state-centric security to human-centric security, to secure economic activities means the security of humans.

The United States funding $45 billion annually to Afghanistan for nation build. According to Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) $3.1 billion spent to improve the security forces of Afghanistan. Under the CSTC-A United States provide $700 million to Afghan national forces for ammunition. An estimated additional amount of $3.6 billion per month expense of United States troops serving in Afghanistan, The total money spent in Afghan war reaches approximately $1 trillion.[5]  Neta Crawford co-director of the cost of wars project at Brown University estimated the cost of Afghanistan war for the US approximately $2 trillion.[6] 

This is the highly expensive alternate of negotiations with Taliban for the United States. Besides this funding peace cannot be possible in short time even the American forces stay one decade more in Afghanistan. One option for the US is that she withdraws her forces from Afghanistan and builds the Afghan security forces as much strength as they can control insurgency and terrorism and cut the military funding gradually. The other option is the United States start peace negotiations with local and international stokeholds and reduces the number of her troops in Afghanistan. And maintain a balanced status quo and give a fear role to other regional players. In this case, Pakistan, Iran, and China can play an active role in the peace in the region, but both the scenarios are not in the fever of US strategy.[7]  In this perspective, negotiations should be priority of all the global and regional states for the peace and stability in the region.

In the 250 years history of Afghanistan despite the efforts of the creation of its Amir’s and Kings. The main resin of their failure to run the state is that they did not modernize the Afghanistan army system, economic reforms, and end of corruption.[8]  For the economic stability and growth, the Afghan government should moderate her military forces to counter the instability, religious extremism, rigid tribal traditions which create hurdles in the way of economic prosperity and domestic and regional peace.

Geopolitical rivalries have stormed back to center stage and old-fashioned power plays are back in Afghanistan,[9] After the United States new Afghanistan and South Asia policy. Donald Trump’s new Afghanistan policy probably miscalculates their actual power and assessment of the objective of other nations and their actual power in the region. The US is reluctant to give balanced status quo and fear role to other regional players and local groups in peace talks. Unfortunately, the current political and security situation in Afghanistan did not suggest any permanent peace agreement in next few years.


[1] Walzer, M. (2017). The triumph of just war theory (and the dangers of success). In Empowering Our Military               Conscience (pp. 27-44). Routledge. Google Scholar

[2] Mazarr, M. J. (2014). The Rise and Fall of the Failed-State Paradigm: Requiem for a Decade of      Distraction. Foreign Affairs93(1), 113-121.  Google Scholar

[3] Doc. Ministry of Mines and Petroleum at 4 (2011). Govt. of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

[4] Quddus, S. A. (1982). Afghanistan and Pakistan, A Geopolitical Study. Lahore, Pakistan: Feroz Sons. p. 50.

[5] Pena, C. V. (2018, April 2). The Pentagon cannot justify spending in Afghanistan. The Hill. Retrieved June 3, 2018, from

[6] Sahadi, J. (2017, August 22). The financial cost of 16 years in Afghanistan. Retrieved June 3, 2018, from

[7] Dobbins, J., & Malkasian, C. (2015). Time To Negotiate in Afghanistan. Foreign Affairs,94(4). pp. 53-64.

[8] Jalalzai, M. K. (2005). Afghan National Army, State Security, Nuclear Neighbors and Internal Security Threats. Lahore, Pakistan: Al-Abbas International.  p. 108.

[9] Mead, W. R. (2014). The return of geopolitics: The revenge of the revisionist powers. Foreign Aff., 93, 69. Google Scholar