If the U.S. is on the verge of losing in Afghanistan, should it try partitioning it?

If the U.S. is on the verge of losing in Afghanistan, should it try partitioning it?


  • Total voters
    28

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
4,429
India
#52
^
Not really. How cud you say that. Pakistan can't even handle Taliban.
Afghan Taliban is supported by Pakistan, Pakistani Taliban was the unwanted outcome of decades of supporting extremists and terror groups by Pakistan's government and military establishment.

While a stable Afghanistan is not in Pakistan's interest. An average Afghans see Indus river as the southernmost border of their country and all democratically elected govt in Afghanistan had friendly relations with India and tensions with Pakistan.
 

Shaheen

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,529
Sweden
#54
Afghan Taliban is supported by Pakistan, Pakistani Taliban was the unwanted outcome of decades of supporting extremists and terror groups by Pakistan's government and military establishment.

While a stable Afghanistan is not in Pakistan's interest. An average Afghans see Indus river as the southernmost border of their country and all democratically elected govt in Afghanistan had friendly relations with India and tensions with Pakistan.
Just about everyone in the region seems to be supporting the Afghan Taliban today (Russia 'arming the Afghan Taliban', says US - BBC News, Iran arming Taliban, says top Afghan general | Arab News, https://ariananews.af/china-supporting-taliban-in-helmand/). Pakistan's support for militant groups in Afghanistan can be sourced back to the Soviet take over of the country. Up till then Pakistan had faced decades of Afghan hositlity without ever responding. As Gartenstein and Vassefi point out in this article:

"Thus, Pakistan’s initial support for violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan was spurred directly by the Afghan government’s sponsorship of separatist groups in Pakistan under the Daoud regime, as well as aggressive Afghan actions that had preceded Daoud. "

http://yalejournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Article-Gartenstein_Ross-and-Vassefi.pdf

On topic, this would be the norm if Afghanistan were partionned into various countries. Successor states would most likely engage in territory grabbing ultimately destabilizing the region even further.
 
Sep 2017
109
Pennsylvania
#55
Historically speaking, partitioning tends to exacerbate whatever issues that a nation is currently facing while creating additional issues that didn't exist previously.

The tensions created by Napoleon's partitioning of the Holy Roman Empire continue to cause problems to this day, 200 years later. These tensions survived multiple world wars (which they contributed to in their own way) and the fall of the Soviet Union to ultimately lead to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Serbia in the mid 1990s.

More recently the partitioning of Palestine has been a continuing source of instability in the Middle East. Similarly North Korea can be said to exist in it's current state of distress only because it was partitioned following World War 2. The same can be said of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos along with the Indochina Wars which continued until 1991, these states struggled largely because they were partitioned in various ways, by various means and to various degrees by external actors in direct defiance of various popular mandates.

Of all these examples only South Korea and Israel can be said to have experienced any degree of "success" by the standards that the governments supported by the original partition both persist and remain allies of the nations that facilitated the partition.

These examples are far from the only ones available. They are simply the most accessible examples which both require little context and serve to support my position.

History tells us that partitioning generally not only fails in the short term but leads to significantly greater instability in the long term. Given these facts I would argue strongly against applying any partition-based exit strategy for Afghanistan.
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,645
USA
#56
Just about everyone in the region seems to be supporting the Afghan Taliban today (Russia 'arming the Afghan Taliban', says US - BBC News, Iran arming Taliban, says top Afghan general | Arab News, https://ariananews.af/china-supporting-taliban-in-helmand/). Pakistan's support for militant groups in Afghanistan can be sourced back to the Soviet take over of the country. Up till then Pakistan had faced decades of Afghan hositlity without ever responding. As Gartenstein and Vassefi point out in this article:

"Thus, Pakistan’s initial support for violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan was spurred directly by the Afghan government’s sponsorship of separatist groups in Pakistan under the Daoud regime, as well as aggressive Afghan actions that had preceded Daoud. "

http://yalejournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Article-Gartenstein_Ross-and-Vassefi.pdf

On topic, this would be the norm if Afghanistan were partionned into various countries. Successor states would most likely engage in territory grabbing ultimately destabilizing the region even further.
Pashtuns in Pakistan are not interested in joining Afghanistan, as they are integrated as Pakistanis. That had been the case even before Pakistan was created. They liked being in India, British India I mean. They are not agitating to join Afghanistan. So whatever objective Afghanistan may have just won't work.
 
Last edited:

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,808
SoCal
#57
Well I wouldnt generalize Muslim countries into one group. This is a quarter of humanity we are talking about. Tribal affiliations are weak or non-existant in many Muslim majority countries such as Turkey, Iran or Uzbekistan. In many Muslim countries however such as Afghanistan tribal affiliations play a hugely important role even to the extent that Jirgas especially the loya ones are more important than what goes on in the national assembly in Kabul.
OK.

Also, I'm sorry for generalizing here.

What about the Aimaq and Farsiwan then. In a hypothetical scenario they could be integrated into Iran but large communities of Pashtuns live in the north west as well. This would be a Balochi style sunni insurgency v2.0 establishing in Iran.
You can try drawing the borders in such a way that excludes as much Pashtuns as possible from Iran, though.

Also, if the Farziwans are surrounded by Pashtun-majority territory, then they should be put into the Pashtun state. Of course, they could move elsewhere if they want. Looking at this map, it doesn't seem worth it to annex a bunch of Pashtun-majority areas just because Tajiks/Farsiwans live in the cities in these areas:



So it would be landlocked times 2. Hardly ideal for a new country to establish itself in especially when surrounded by groups and entities who arent pro-Hazara either.
Uzbekistan is doubly-landlocked and manages to do just fine, though. Also, so does Liechtenstein--though I'm sure that you'll dismiss it due to it being a micro-state.

Also, are Uzbeks hostile towards Hazaras or merely neutral towards them?

It didnt really. Many of the territorial flashpoints eventually became part of World War II (Vienna Awards to Hungary, Hungary occupying Yugoslav territories, Croat fascist groups killing Serbs etc). Its just that these events became footnotes in the wider conflicts and genocides that were committed during WWII.
Please keep in mind, though, that the Fall of France probably made all of these events possible. Basically, the Fall of France destroyed the European balance-of-power and thus allowed revanchist powers to temporarily redraw the map of Europe and to inflict a lot of harm as a result.

Had there been no Fall of France, and had Britain and France been willing to fight over Czechoslovakia in 1938, I suspect that the situation in Central and Eastern Europe would have been much more stable.

Perhaps but out of the box thinking really is not prevalent in that part of the world. For example Afghanistan claims around half of Pakistan's territory and irridentism is one of the biggest reasons why the country is an utter shambles today.
Wouldn't a better move for Afghanistan be to clean up its act and to encourage Pakistani Pashtuns who want to live under Afghan rule to move to Afghanistan, though?

Many AfPak "experts" these days keep harping on about Pakistani aggression towards Afghanistan without understanding that for decades Afghan governments incited civilian strife and military raids into Pakistan in the hopes of turning the Pakistani Pashtun populace against Pakistan. The strategy failed on a grand level and when Pakistan responded in kind Afghanistan could not handle it, but the strategy is an example of the mindset and the kind of things that would happen if Afghanistan were divided into smaller countries.
Two things:

1. Are you suggesting that Pakistan's support of Hekmatyar and later the Taliban was the result of Pakistan wanting to put loyal Pashtuns in power in Afghanistan so that they would not sponsor separatism among Pakistani Pashtuns?

2. That's why there would need to be some kind of treaty or multilateral pact that everyone in the neighborhood would be able to get behind.

I mean, 2018 Europe is much more Balkanized than 1937 Europe was, but it also appears to be much more stable due to the U.S. and NATO providing order and stability in Europe. Indeed, a large part of the reason as to why late 1930s Europe wasn't stable is because Russia was Communist and unreliable and because the U.S. was unwilling to play a major role in European affairs.

Could some kind of treaty or multilateral pact help keep the peace in Afghanistan after a hypothetical partition? I wonder.

The number of conflicts over ethnicity would mulitply with each ethnic group claiming territories far beyond its borders.
That's why you need to have some sort of Great Power arbitration.

For instance, the Great Powers managed to look at various rival territorial claims at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 and decide which ones should prevail. The Great Powers could try doing the same thing in regards to Afghanistan--though obviously they would have to remain engaged for the long-haul (unlike the U.S. in 1919, which in large part withdrew from European affairs and thus helped undermine the post-World War I peace).

Just to give an example of how intense hatred can be, when a Tajik politician suggested that Afghanistan should settle its problems with Pakistan and recognize the border (which mind you every other country in the world recognizes as the international border including the US) politicians from the Pashtun ethnic group threatened to stone him live on national TV https://www.voanews.com/a/afghan-lawmakers-call-stoning-fellow-parliamentarian/3794262.html
OK, but in a scenario where the Taliban is about to win in Afghanistan and Afghanistan ends up breaking up, wouldn't such Pashtun politicians be silenced pretty quickly?

After all, wouldn't the Taliban listen to Pakistani demands and thus silence such Pashtun troublemakers as soon as it could?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,808
SoCal
#58
Historically speaking, partitioning tends to exacerbate whatever issues that a nation is currently facing while creating additional issues that didn't exist previously.

The tensions created by Napoleon's partitioning of the Holy Roman Empire continue to cause problems to this day, 200 years later.
Wasn't this partition reversed after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, though?

These tensions survived multiple world wars (which they contributed to in their own way) and the fall of the Soviet Union to ultimately lead to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Serbia in the mid 1990s.
The break-up of the Soviet Union itself was relatively peaceful, though. Indeed, the main troubles occurred on the periphery--in Transnistria, in Nagorno-Karabakh, in Abkhazia, in South Ossetia, et cetera.

As for Yugoslavia, some parts of it--such as Macedonia's secession--were peaceful while other parts of it weren't. Of course, what might have helped was if NATO would have militarily intervened in Yugoslavia at the very beginning inside of it 1995. Or, alternatively, had Bosnia and Herzegovina been partitioned between Serbia and Croatia in Yugoslav times, there might not have been a war in Bosnia--and certainly not as severe of a war--in the first place.

More recently the partitioning of Palestine has been a continuing source of instability in the Middle East.
One issue with the partition of Palestine, though, is that most of the Jews there were recent immigrants. Thus, a Jewish-majority state in Palestine might have been more objectionable to Arabs than, say, a Christian-majority state in Mount Lebanon would have.

Similarly North Korea can be said to exist in it's current state of distress only because it was partitioned following World War 2.
You know that I consider North Korea to be a completely artificial state which should be reunified with the South after the regime there will get overthrown (by its own people--not by foreign powers). Enough said.

The same can be said of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos along with the Indochina Wars which continued until 1991, these states struggled largely because they were partitioned in various ways, by various means and to various degrees by external actors in direct defiance of various popular mandates.
Well, yeah, the partition of Vietnam was wholly artificial. Just like Koreans, Vietnamese are one people who--ideally--deserve to live in one country.

Of all these examples only South Korea and Israel can be said to have experienced any degree of "success" by the standards that the governments supported by the original partition both persist and remain allies of the nations that facilitated the partition.
A lot might depend on whether a partition is "natural" (as in, based on ethnic, linguistic, or religious lines) or artificial, though.

These examples are far from the only ones available. They are simply the most accessible examples which both require little context and serve to support my position.

History tells us that partitioning generally not only fails in the short term but leads to significantly greater instability in the long term. Given these facts I would argue strongly against applying any partition-based exit strategy for Afghanistan.
I could challenge you with a counter-proposal, though. Specifically, in spite of being much more Balkanized than it was in the past, Europe today is also relatively stable. Indeed, other than the Balkans, Caucasus, and Donbass, Europe appears to have been pretty peaceful ever since 1945.

In turn, one could say that if a partition occurs and Great Powers are willing to enforce this partition over the long(er)-run, then a partition is more likely to be successful than would otherwise be the case.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,808
SoCal
#59
By the way, here is an example of a partition that has worked rather well over the last 27 years:



Specifically, the lines that the Bolsheviks drew in Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s managed to hold up extremely well over the last 27 years--when all of these SSRs became independent states.
 
Dec 2011
4,633
Iowa USA
#60
Should the key read "Nuristani" rather than "Turistani", by the way, post #57?

Aside.. those that have ever seen the 1975 film "The Man Who Would Be King", Nuristan is the setting of the Kipling novel and the movie....
 

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