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The Fragmentation of Afghanistan

The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System, Second Edition

Barnett R. Rubin
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 426
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    The Fragmentation of Afghanistan
    Book Description:

    This monumental book examines Afghan society in conflict, from the 1978 communist coup to the fall of Najibullah, the last Soviet-installed president, in 1992. This edition, newly revised by the author, reflects developments since then and includes material on the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. It is a book that now seems remarkably prescient.Drawing on two decades of research, Barnett R. Rubin, a leading expert on Afghanistan, provides a fascinating account of the nature of the old regime, the rise and fall of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, and the troubled Mujahidin resistance. He relates all these phenomena to international actors, showing how the interaction of U.S. policy and Pakistani and Saudi Arabian interests has helped to create the challenges of today. Rubin puts into context the continuing turmoil in Afghanistan and offers readers a coherent historical explanation for the country's social and political fragmentation.Praise for the earlier edition:"This study is theoretically informed, empirically grounded, and gracefullywritten. Anyone who wants to understand Afghanistan's troubled history and thereasons for its present distress should read this book."-Foreign Affairs"This is the book on Afghanistan for the educated public."-Political Science Quarterly

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18562-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. ix-xxxvi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxvii-xliii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xliv-xlv)
  6. Political Map of Afghanistan
    (pp. xliv-xlviii)
  7. 1 Afghanistan, Mirror of the World
    (pp. 1-16)

    On December 25, 1991, twelve years almost to the day after his predecessors had dispatched troops to Afghanistan, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev appeared on worldwide television to announce the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Within a week, at the start of 1992, an agreement took effect between the United States and the USSR (or the latter’s successors) to end both deliveries of weapons and aid for the purchase of weapons to all parties in Afghanistan. The conflict fueled by those weapons had killed nearly a million of that country’s fifteen to seventeen million people, driven over five...

  8. Part I The Old Regime:: State, Society, and Politics

    • [Part One Introduction]
      (pp. 17-21)

      In 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution, 85 percent of that country’s population were peasants, and agriculture accounted for 60 percent of production. Most of the agricultural land was divided into small holdings.¹ In 1978, on the eve of the “Sawr [April] Revolution” in Afghanistan, 85 percent of the population were peasants or nomads, and agriculture accounted for 60 percent of production. Most of the agricultural land was divided into small holdings. But in France in 1789, the tax burden imposed by the absolutist state fell mainly on the peasants, whereas in Afghanistan in 1978, the peasants paid...

    • 2 Social Structure under the Old Regime
      (pp. 22-44)

      The territory of today’s Afghanistan consists of a major mountain range, the Hindu Rush, with its fertile but isolated valleys, and the deserts and river valleys that flank it. This territory spreads over many geographical and ecological zones, and its peoples and societies are correspondingly distinct. Only their incorporation into a state has made them into a single society.

      The elements of this society are the products of thousands of years of interaction with empires and states. Rulers of the territory that constitutes today’s Afghanistan could draw on the wealth of well-irrigated river basins and on the long-distance trade routes...

    • 3 State, Tribe, and the International System: From Gunpowder Empires to the Cold War
      (pp. 45-80)

      Various states or empires dominated the territories of present-day Afghanistan until the eighteenth century, but none of them constituted an Afghan state, that is, one ruled by Pashtuns. When Safavid rulers structured the Abdalis and Ghilzais into confederations, these Pashtun tribes attained large-scale military organization for the first time; the foundering of both the Safavid and Mughal dynasties in the mid-seventeenth century gave the Abdalis and Ghilzais an opportunity for conquest.

      When a Safavid governor of Qandahar attempted to force Shiʿism on the Pashtuns, the Ghilzais revolted under the leadership of Mirwais, khan of the Hotakis. Mirwais’s lashkar ousted the...

    • 4 Rentier State and Rentier Revolutionaries
      (pp. 81-106)

      The foreign aid-funded expansion of the state created new political elites. During such periods of liberalization as the Liberal Parliament and New Democracy, these elites began to form a rudimentary civil society, “that arena where manifold social movements .. . and civic organizations .. . attempt to constitute themselves in an ensemble of arrangements so that they can express themselves and advance their interests.” The elites organized clubs, discussion groups, newspapers, and informal groupings in the consultative parliaments. During neither period, however, were they able to establish political society, “that arena in which the polity specifically arranges itself for political...

  9. Part II The PDPA in Power:: From the Second Cold War to the Collapse of the USSR

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 107-110)

      The PDPA regime went through several stages, each defined by the type and amount of foreign support the regime received. Changes in foreign support were driven not only by international changes but also by the impression that the Afghan resistance movement made on foreign decision makers (mainly in Moscow).

      In the twenty months following the Sawr Revolution, until December 27,1979, the Soviet Union increased aid of all sorts, including military advisers. Western and Islamic states, meanwhile, slashed their aid programs, particularly after U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in February 1979. Aid from these sources increasingly flowed instead to various...

    • 5 Failure of Revolution from Above
      (pp. 111-121)

      The army officers who carried out the April coup handed over power to a formally united PDPA, led by General Secretary Taraki, who also assumed the offices of president of the Revolutionary Council and prime minister. Babrak Karmal and Hafizullah Amin, who loathed each other, were also Politburo secretaries, members of the R.C. Presidium, and deputy prime ministers. The Soviet Union announced massive backing for the new regime.

      Conflict soon broke out again within the PDPA. In July Taraki sent Karmal and five other Parchami leaders close to him into exile as ambassadors. In August the Khalqis arrested others for...

    • 6 Under Soviet Occupation: Party, State, and Society, 1980-1985
      (pp. 122-145)

      The Red Army returned Babrak Karmal to Kabul and installed him as president of the Revolutionary Council, general secretary of the PDPA, and prime minister of the government (He relinquished the premiership to Sultan Ali Kishtmand a year later.) The Soviets made Parcham the dominant force in all of these bodies, although Khalqis who had not been too closely associated with Amin continued to play a subordinate role. The new government terminated or significantly moderated the revolutionary programs whose coercive implementation had pushed the society into revolt. The installation of a government by foreign troops, however, helped turn the revolts...

    • 7 Soviet Withdrawal, Political Retreat: State and Society, 1986-1991
      (pp. 146-176)

      When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, he imposed a one-year deadline for making the old strategy work. As a result, the year after Gorbachev took power was the bloodiest of the war. By the time of the Soviet Party Congress of February 1986, Afghanistan had become, in Gorbachev’s words, a bleeding wound. Confronted by limited resources at home and continuing resistance in Afghanistan, the congress authorized Gorbachev to promote a political compromise—“national reconciliation”—in Afghanistan and to negotiate the withdrawal of Soviet troops. At a...

  10. Part III The Islamk Resistance:: Mujahidin, Society, and the International System

    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 177-183)

      Where state authority is too weak to provide structure to civil and political society, the objectives of opposition come to resemble those of competitive state building. Without law or political institutions, the struggle for power becomes as unstructured as the wars among the princes of early modem Europe. Each leader aspires to build an army and a financial apparatus capable of supporting it. Relative success depends upon access to resources and skills in organization and leadership.

      The leadership of the state in Afghanistan faced a different structure of opportunities for the mobilization of resources from that available to early modem...

    • 8 Origins of the Movement of Jihad
      (pp. 184-195)

      Before the Soviet invasion in December 1979 and the flow of aid to mujahidin organizations that it provoked, the Afghan resistance’s largely spontaneous, decentralized organizational forms reflected the dispersion of social control under the old regime. Modern warfare, aid from foreign powers that wished to reshape Afghan politics, and the participation of Islamist activists—these factors all transformed the movement, but only hindsight magnifies what were then small phenomena.

      Soviet intervention and the arrival of foreign aid transformed the structure of the resistance and its relation to Afghan society. The Red Army’s adoption of a more aggressive military strategy in...

    • 9 International Aid, War, and National Organization
      (pp. 196-225)

      The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan violated basic norms of international conduct and law, appeared (if deceptively) to pose a threat to the oil resources of the Persian Gulf, and placed the first Muslim state to join the modern state system under the occupation of an avowedly atheistic power. The Pakistani effort to aid the mujahidin received substantial and growing support from the West, led by the United States; from the Islamic world, led by Saudi Arabia; and from China. Various agencies of the Iranian government also aided Shiʿa mujahidin parties who followed the line of Khomeini.

      The Pakistani ISI, which...

    • 10 International Aid, War, and Local and Regional Organization
      (pp. 226-246)

      In much of the colonial and postcolonial world, loss of social control by locally based landholding elites resulted from capitalist penetration and the monetization of tax collection. In such cases those with access to capital and to the market (moneylenders who assumed ownership of land from indebted landlords, for example) became the new strongmen.¹ In Afghanistan coercive rather than capitalist penetration had analogous effects. Those who would reconsolidate control first needed access to political networks (the exile-based parties) that supplied weapons and other resources necessary for insurgency; then they needed the organizational skills to use those resources effectively. Soviet military...

    • 11 Mujahidin after Soviet Withdrawal
      (pp. 247-264)

      The withdrawal of Soviet troops between May 15, 1988, and February 15, 1989, reduced the military pressure on the mujahidin. Resistance fighters captured or occupied all of the frontier with Pakistan, including the customs posts at Torkham (in the Khyber Pass on the Peshawar-Jalalabad road) and Spin Boldak (on the Quetta-Qandahar road). They overran the eastern Afghan provincial center of Kunar, where competing shuras—the seven-party alliance and the Jamaʿat al-Daʿwa—vied for power. A largely Hazara shura took control of Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan. Massoud captured Taliqan, center of Takhar Province, and established a capital for the SCN there...

    • 12 State Collapse after the Cold War: Afghanistan without Foreign Aid
      (pp. 265-280)

      Amir Abdul Rahman Khan created the modern state of Afghanistan with weapons and cash supplied by the British for their own strategic reasons. Foreign powers whose main strategic interests centered on Europe also furnished weapons, cash, and training to Daoud, Taraki, Amin, Karmal, and Najibullah, enabling them to pursue domestic projects that met the strategic goals of the suppliers. When the Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991, so did the Russian empire in Asia. Bipolar strategic conflict ended, and the European imperialist map of Southwest Asia was redrawn. Foreign aid to Afghanistan from competing, Euro-Atlantic powers ceased,...

  11. Appendix A: Note on Sources
    (pp. 281-284)
  12. Appendix B: Political Actors in Afghanistan, 1973-1994
    (pp. 285-294)
  13. Appendix C: Financing of Government Expenditure, 1952-1988
    (pp. 295-298)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 299-342)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 343-348)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 349-366)
  17. Index
    (pp. 367-378)