President Obama’s ‘New’ Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy: Why it is Unlikely to Work

20 October 2009

Professor M. Nazif Shahrani

Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, Indiana University

Shifting resources from Iraq to the so called ‘war of necessity' in Afghanistan by President Obama, while significant, is unlikely to be effective. This is largely because the fundamental assumptions long held by the Bush administration policy makers about the nature of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, their conception of terrorism and how to defeat it, and how to reclaim American and global security remain unchanged. Without honest reconsideration of such assumptions within the broader American political culture, any re-appraisal of current policies which could result in a more effective comprehensive strategy for addressing the increasing violence and political stability in the region will be unlikely.

Broad Topics: Arts and Social Sciences

Sub-topics: International Law, Policy & Political Science

Areas: ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

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Professor M. Nazif Shahrani

M. Nazif Shahrani is Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington. Shahrani has held post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and Stanford Universities and at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution. He has conducted extensive anthropological field research in Afghanistan, and the former Soviet Central Asian Republics, and studied Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan and Turkey. Since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 he has regularly visited Afghanistan. His current research focuses on state-society relations and political culture of multi-ethnic post-colonial fragile nation-states. He has published widely and is currently working on a book entitled Post-Taliban Afghanistan: The Challenges of State-Building, Governance and Security. His previous books include The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: Adaptation to Closed Frontiers and War (2002) and Revolutions and Rebellions in Afghanistan: Anthropological Perspectives (1986) (co-edited).

This lecture is presented in conjunction with the ANU-Indiana University Pan-Asian Studies Institute. Presented by the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East And Central Asia), it was part of the 2009 ANU Public Lecture Series.