1st Edition

US Policy Towards Afghanistan, 1979-2014 'A Force for Good'

By Anthony Teitler Copyright 2020
    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    236 Pages
    by Routledge

    Providing a study of US policy towards Afghanistan from the Soviet intervention of 1979 to the exit of US/International Security Assistance Forces combat troops at the end of 2014, this book examines how the United States’ construction of its interests has shaped its long-term involvement with that country.

    Recognising that there is a particular focus on the United States’ representation and justification of its Afghan policy, this work demonstrates how the intertwining of language and social practices provided policymakers’ with a shared meaning on selling policy. In this way, Washington justified its practices – including covert operations, diplomacy, counterterrorism and war – as essential in ensuring that ‘good’ prevailed over ‘evil’. Teitler’s argument contrasts with the existing literature, which predominantly argues the United States has been motivated by self-interest in its dealings with Afghanistan. Teitler deploys a constructivist approach to elucidate US–Afghan relations in this critical historical juncture.

    Through its particular use of constructivism, the work aims to contribute more broadly to international relations and US foreign policy scholarship. This book will be of interest to academics and students in various fields, including US foreign and security policy, international relations theory, the Greater Middle East, Afghanistan, American exceptionalism, constructivism and discourse analysis.


    Chapter 1 – The intersection of constructivism and American exceptionalism

    Chapter 2 – Supporting the Afghan ‘freedom fighters’ against the ‘perils’ of communism, 1979-1989

    Chapter 3 – The Bush administration’s strategic construction of 9/11 and Afghanistan

    Chapter 4 – The Obama administration and the renewed significance of Afghanistan

    Chapter 5 – Obama and Afghanistan: the continuing danger of a ‘safe haven’?



    Anthony Teitler is the Head of the International Relations and Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) undergraduate programs at the Karlshochschule International University, Germany, and a visiting lecturer at the University of Buckingham.

    "For most Americans, Afghanistan has long been a recurring nightmare, to be forgotten until the next news flash of Taliban terrorism or refugee suffering pops up on television and computer screens. Anthony Teitler’s brilliant new book, U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan, 1979-2014: "A Force for Good" offers scholars, students and citizens of the U.S. and the world powerful insights into the construction of the ideology which guided U.S. policy, its illusions and self-delusions, in the face of disastrous "victories" and recurring defeats through five administrations. With sophistication and skill, Teitler explains how U.S policy makers created and then advertised reality to national and global audiences, only to become prisoners of their invented reality in a changing world. Today, given the multi-faceted crisis the world faces and the role of the United States in world affairs, Anthony Teitler’s work is a must read." - Norman Markowitz, Department of History, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA.

    "An insightful analysis firmly grounded in the constructivist approach. In U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan, 1979-2014: "A Force for Good," Anthony Teitler presents a thorough and convincing narrative that blends academic scholarship with primary source nuance. During a time in which major foreign policy and military commitments have come under increasing scrutiny, Teitler makes an important contribution to understanding how identity, values-driven judgements, and American exceptionalism have shaped U.S. strategic engagement in Afghanistan. Bringing vital interest, security commitments, and public support back into alignment will be a crucial task of future presidential administrations, and as policymakers and academics reimagine the scope and character of U.S. interventionism abroad—from Kabul to Kiev and beyond—they will find Teitler’s observations both illuminating and portentous." - Paul J. Angelo, David Rockefeller Studies Program, Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, USA.

    "Anthony Teitler’s U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan, 1979-2014: "A Force for Good" is a must-read for students of US Foreign Policy in the modern era and those interested in better understanding motivations for intervention post 9/11. Teitler offers a persuasive constructivist narrative of foreign policy making across multiple presidential administrations. He supports this with a wealth of primary and secondary source materials. His analysis helps us to better understand how successive administrations have hamstrung their own intervention plans. Self-imposed constructions of good versus evil, ‘good enough’ justifications, and logics of appropriateness are examples of the traps the US has laid for itself. Teitler’s analysis sends a clear warning to future US Administrations regarding the challenges of foreign intervention." - Alex Braithwaite, University of Arizona, USA.