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The Afghan Papers: Western Attempts Of Top-Down Government In A Decentralised Tribal Country

In today's video I discuss elements from the *Afghan Papers and the Afghan Papers book by Craig Whitlock. I focus on how the western coalition did not try and personalise their mission to Afghan culture, society and way of life. I also highlight how many rural areas are completely out of touch with Kabul and the rest of the country. The US/West tried to force a western like system of top-down government, on a country that is consistently highlighted as a very local and tribal place, that has its own system of authority outside of government control. Many of these factors contribute to the overall failure of the Afghan War. I would like to thank Craig Whitlock and his book for making this possible.

*The Afghanistan Papers are a set of interviews relating to the US war in Afghanistan prepared by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and published by The Washington Post in 2019 following a Freedom of Information Act request

Please feel free to comment if I have missed any links in the show notes.

Quotes used today with links to the source

Rural and Authority (1)
Download PDF • 64KB

All quotes and documents can be found here - The Afghanistan Papers: A Secret History of the War By Craig Whitlock ( (Control F to find them)


"Please see me about having a weekly meeting on Afghanistan. I am getting concerned that it is drifting" Donald Rumsfeld memo to Larry Di Rita and Col. Steven Bucci, March 28, 2002

"I may be impatient. In fact I know I'm a bit impatient. But the fact that Iran and Russia have plans for Afghanistan and we don't concerns me. I keep getting an answer that "the Deputies are working on it." Well I can't believe that it takes that many months to figure it out…We are never going to get the U.S military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave.” “Help!” Donald Rumsfeld memo to Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Gen. Dick Myers and Gen. Pete Pace, April 17, 2002


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