Overcoming the Obstacles to Establishing a Democratic State in Afghanistan

  • October 01, 2007
  • COL Dennis O Young

After the Taliban regime was driven out of Afghanistan in late 2001, the United States and other members of the international community undertook efforts to establish and stabilize a liberal democratic form of government in that country. Such an undertaking is a monumental task, fraught with many obstacles and challenges. This paper looks at several of the obstacles to democracy in Afghanistan, to include the absence of a democratic history and tradition, an endemic culture of corruption, a pervasive narcotics trade and drug trafficking problem, tribalism and ethnic divides among the population, and finally the lack of support or assistance from neighboring Pakistan. The author proposes five possible strategies and adjustments to current efforts by the international community, led by the United States and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). If these strategies are adopted, the environment in Afghanistan will be more secure, the government more stable, and liberal democracy will have a much greater chance of taking hold and flourishing. Afghanistan and this region of the world will also be less likely to harbor terrorist operations and organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban to threaten the democratic nations of the world.