Lessons learned from the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan: examples for U.S. policy concerning Central Asia and Afghanistan after 2014
Spear, Wesley M.
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The future of Afghanistan and its neighboring Central Asian countries is uncertain as U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces prepare to draw down and transition to training, advising, and assisting Afghan National Forces. What are the critical threats to regional stability in Afghanistan and Central Asia post 2014? What can the U.S. government and military do to promote stability in this region? This thesis investigates these questions by comparing the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, along with the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, which caused social, political, and economic upheaval, to possible causes of instability in Afghanistan and Central Asia post-2014. This thesis finds that the sudden and complete loss of financial assistance from Moscow in 1992 led to the collapse of the Afghan government and turmoil in Central Asia. Furthermore, similar conditions exist today and could be exacerbated if the United States follows a strategy of total disengagement from the region. The U.S. government and military, therefore, needs to maintain a presence in the region and should continue to focus on capacity building, particularly in the areas of border security, civil society building, and economic stabilization.
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