The purpose of my research for an essay written last fall, was to look at the theories of international politics that apply to the war in Afghanistan and in doing so answer questions about why the United States invaded Afghanistan, why we remained there for 20 years, and why that is now branded as a failed effort. I felt that I needed to start by providing an important historical account of international events in the years leading up to the 9/11 attacks. In the 1980s a UN Resolution was followed by a covert soft power operation by the CIA, and a subsequent Realist reaction and strategy around our decision to invade. I provide three reasons, tied to Realist theory, as to why we stayed in Afghanistan; Strategic, Hegemonic, and Geopolitical. These reasons were respectively employed to prevent terrorism, hold our position of power regarding energy access, and gain influence in Central Asia which has large deposits of oil and natural gas. I apply the idea of Imperialism to our failure to nation build in Afghanistan. A domestic level of analysis illuminates the role of national politics in decisions made by the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations as they grappled with the war. I also acknowledge that at the interstate level, the war in Afghanistan involved power relations between the U.S. and rival countries as they competed for resources and geopolitical advantage. I would like to relate that war to what we are now experiencing with Russia's incursion into Ukraine how it would appear that lessons from Afghanistan have been conveniently forgotten or ignored. This is a video of the presentation, "International Relations Theory and US Involvement in Afghanistan" given at the 2022 Undergraduate Projects & Research Conference at Salt Lake Community College. The presenter: Donna Gibbons. The video can be accessed via YouTube here: https://youtu.be/66xlK07jJWg
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