THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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
Troubled Transition: Politics, Peacekeeping and the 2004 Presiden-
(Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010), as well as a number of
articles and book chapters.
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
Primary school is in session in the
Mohmand Dara district of Nangarhar
province in eastern Afghanistan.
Casey Garret Johnson
FOCUS ON AFGHANISTAN