Frankly speaking, the doctrine of democratisation did not seem quite wise to me even then. It was an incredibly expensive experiment that only countries with no other vital interests could afford. At the military training department during this period, we were working on leaflets that called on the Afghan mujahideens to hand over the portable MANPADS of the Soviet army for a fee. Could such a leaflet have worked for the radicalised Pashtun underground in 2003?
In 2005 I entered postgraduate school. When determining the topic of my research, I constantly returned to the idea that the United States is conducting an incredible experiment before our eyes and is trying to challenge the laws of history. My inherent scepticism did not allow me to believe that the Americans would succeed. But in the United States there were so many bright, energetic, convinced people that it was fascinating to watch their behaviour. As we later established in our study
, the leaders of American diplomacy, primarily Condoleezza Rice, had created a new normative framework for foreign policy - the vivid normative theses in speeches far outnumbered substantive ones. In other words, reality was less important than the projected future. So, the study of the US experience in the "democratisation" of Afghanistan and Iraq became the topic of my dissertation.
After a series of bright political initiatives and military experiments, the politicians and experts in the United States began to come to the conclusion that both operations were unable to instigate changes which would take root politically. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were increasingly seen as a mistake. In 2006, I received my first American visa, and in response to a question from a consular officer about the purpose of my visit, I spoke about my research on US strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq. Raising her eyes, the diplomat sadly asked: "Is there any strategy at all?"
In 2007, apparently thinking in a similar way, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, at a Senate hearing for the first time formulated a new goal of the war - not to build democracy according to Jefferson, but to create conditions that would allow the US to withdraw its troops from that country. In 2010, Petraeus tried to extend a similar strategy to Afghanistan as the new commander of the Multinational Force in that country.
Around this time, the United States began first secret and then simply informal negotiations with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar. The Taliban set maximalist goals for the withdrawal of US troops and responded evasively to counter-offers. They had a unique resource on their side - time and perseverance. This is precisely what the United States has never had enough of, with its short political cycle and constant changes in foreign policy priorities. In one of my first independent studies in 2009, I wrote
that the leaders of the Pashtun tribes inhabiting the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands, now have the initiative in the conflict: "Washington can make the conditions of Afghan reconciliation easier for itself only by understanding and satisfying the demands of one of the parties - the tribal elders or the Taliban."
The United States could achieve its goals if it was capable of full-fledged negotiations with an opponent. However, Washington actually denied reality. In 2013, I wrote
that the US had a distorted perception of many regional security problems associated with ethnic separatism, religious extremism and drug trafficking. By inertia, the regional processes in Central Asia, western China, Iran and even in allied Pakistan were viewed in Washington as a confrontation between tyrannical regimes and freedom-loving rebels.