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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

DECEMBER 2014

33

Afghanistan’s emergence as a modern

nation will involve negotiating a cultural

transition that integrates enduring

traditions with viable change.

BY SCOTT SM I TH

Scott Smith is the director of Afghanistan and Central Asia

programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Prior to joining

USIP in April 2012, Smith spent 13 years at the United

Nations, focusing primarily on Afghanistan and democ-

ratization issues. An adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School

of International and Public A airs, he is the author of

Afghanistan’s

Troubled Transition: Politics, Peacekeeping and the 2004 Presiden-

tial Election

(Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010), as well as a number of

articles and book chapters.

T

hree themes have endured through-

out Afghanistan’s long history. Its

central government has always been

weak; it has always had a strong and

independent society; and its people

have always been somewhat mis-

trustful of outsiders. Notwithstanding

those traits, over the past 13 years

U.S. policy in Afghanistan has aimed

to build a strong state and change and modernize society

through outside assistance and expertise.

WHAT U.S. POLICYMAKERS

SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

AFGHANISTAN

TODAY

Primary school is in session in the

Mohmand Dara district of Nangarhar

province in eastern Afghanistan.

Casey Garret Johnson

FOCUS ON AFGHANISTAN