Rethinking Total Violence: Reflections on Empire, Repression, and Terror in Afghanistan

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  Wednesday, September 22, 2021
  12 - 1:30 p.m.
  Online via Zoom
  Dr. Wali Ahmedi, UCB Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

This presentation attempts to show that the American "war on terror" launched in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 was part of a neo-con politico-military scheme to reshape the social and economic landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia at a time that the neo-liberal order (in the name og "globalization") had emerged as seemingly triumphant in the post-Cold War era. The challenges the US and NATO faced in Afghanistan -- which ultimately led to the recent fiasco and unceremonious American military withdrawal from the country -- therefore, can only be partially explained as a struggle between US-instituted "democratic" polity and autonomous Afghan "Islamic" forces for liberation (the Taliban). Neither such factors as ethnic, linguistic, or regional divisions inherent within Afghan society can explain the failure of American imposed order there. The kind of imperial hubris that the US neo-con elements demonstrated in 2001 was increasingly shattered with the waging of an "endless war" in Afghanistan. Neither the resurgence of China and Russia nor the resurfacing of the Taliban network posed a substantial challenge to the US dominance in that region. In truth, the main reason behind the US failure should be sought, on the one hand, in the realization that the process of imperially imposed "nation-building" elsewhere cannot be successful purely by pouring money and resources; and, on the other hand, the inherent contradictions of capitalism -- as shown in periodic economic crushes and repeated financial failures -- indicated that, instead of engaging in incessant wars abroad, the dominant capitalist order, embodied in the erstwhile hegemonic Empire, should turn inward in order to preserve its own continuity and integrity. Hence the American decision -- initiated by Trump and carried to the letter by Biden -- to leave Afghanistan.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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