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Stanford historian studies how U.S. intervention in Afghanistan changed that country

Afghanistan's flag

Afghanistan’s history and culture are very different from U.S. portrayals, Stanford historian Robert Crews argues in a new book.

Andrew Duhan

Drawing on archives and oral testimony, Stanford historian Robert Crews discovers an Afghanistan that hardly fits the forbidding image that has fueled the U.S. military’s disastrous intervention there.

By Marguerite Rigoglioso

Among the more than a million refugees that have flooded into Europe over the past year are the Afghans, the second-largest group behind the Syrians. Yet the humanitarian crisis affecting this land-locked South Asian country, like most news regarding Afghanistan, has received little attention in the United States.

Robert Crews, an associate professor of history at Stanford, said, “In Washington, it has become common to view Afghanistan as a country defined by a never-ending struggle among warlords, tribal chiefs, and religious fanatics. This has been particularly attractive as a way of explaining why the American intervention in that country, despite costing more than 2,300 American lives and roughly a trillion dollars, has achieved so few of its goals in over 14 years.”

Crews examines America’s role in policies that have fueled Afghanistan’s economic and cultural crises in his book, Afghan Modern: The History of a Global Nation. The work explores the extent to which U.S. influence has shaped Afghanistan over the past seven decades, including the American intervention against the country’s fundamentalist Taliban in 2001 in response to their presumed role in the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“Long before 2001, Americans came to Afghanistan with the goal of remaking their lives along lines that would advance U.S. interests,” said Crews, a historian whose research and teaching interests focus on Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, Russia, Islam, and global history....

For the complete article, visit the Stanford Report