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Durham e-Theses
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From Intervention to Exit: American Foreign
Policymaking towards Afghanistan

DORANI, SHARIFULLAH (2015) From Intervention to Exit: American Foreign
Policymaking towards Afghanistan.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines United States foreign policy towards Afghanistan as a contemporary piece of analysis informed by Foreign Policy Analysis. As part of its Global War on Terror, the Bush Administration intervened in Afghanistan in early October 2001, and only in June 2011 did the Obama Administration decide to begin to end US involvement in Afghanistan. During these eleven years, a timeline which is the subject of this thesis, the US Global War on Terror policy in Afghanistan experienced a number of changes, evolving from a policy of ‘abandonment’ prior to the 9/11 terrorist acts to a military ‘intervention’, from a ‘counterterrorism’ to a ‘counter-insurgency’ strategy, from ‘destroying’ terrorism to ‘containing’ it, from treating the Taliban as ‘terrorists’ to declaring them as ‘non-terrorists’, from the goal of ‘defeating’ the Taliban to ‘degrading’ them, from seeing Afghanistan as having compelling relevance to US national security interests to seeing it as having minimal importance, and from intending to spend as long as it took to secure a ‘democratic’ and ‘strong’ Afghanistan to the objective of establishing a ‘good enough’ state so that the US could have a quick exit. Four decisions are identified to signify these developmental turning points: the decision to intervene in late-2001; the decision to employ a counterterrorism strategy in early 2002; the decision to approve a counter-insurgency strategy in late-2009; and the decision to begin to withdraw US troops in June 2011. Informed by the Foreign Policy Decision-Making Approach from Foreign Policy Analysis, this research analyses what the United States foreign policy towards Afghanistan was at each of the four turning points, and how and why it was constructed. Policymakers’ idiosyncratic characteristics, especially their belief systems and images, their bureaucratic positions and personal ties, domestic influences, and, most importantly, ‘false assumptions’, are those causal factors shown to be responsible for the resulting strategy for the Global War on Terror, which began in Afghanistan, and later for the abovementioned strategy changes. One of the main arguments of this thesis is that the assumptions made by both the Bush and the Obama Administrations were ill-informed and misjudged, and derived from rigid ideologies rather than realities on the ground in Afghanistan, and that therefore the policy choices failed at the implementation phases, greatly triggering the aforementioned changes in the Global War on Terror strategy in Afghanistan over the course of the eleven years.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:PhD, research, American foreign policy towards Afghanistan, US Afghan foreign policymaking, the global war on terror, decision-making, the Taliban, al Qaeda in Afghanistan, American policy towards Pakistan, the Af-Pak policy, Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan, views of Karzai, Bush, Obama, counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, Foreign Policy Analysis, Foreign policy decision-making approach, Bureaucratic Politics Approach, Psycho-Social Milieu Approach, public opinion, limitations of FPA, limitations of Bureaucratic Politics, The Afghanistan War, The US War in Afghanistan, American War in Afghanistan, false assumptions, the impact on Iraq War on Afghanistan, light footprint.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Jun 2015 11:31

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