Roots of democracy are seeds of failure

As threats increase, we need to make peace efforts paramount in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Anant Naik

After 9/11 the United States went out to plant the “seeds of freedom” in Iraq and Afghanistan. At that time, former president George W. Bush argued that the seeds of democracy don’t grow into a “fragile flower” but a “sturdy tree.” Today, extremism, violence and poor governance are cutting that tree down. 
 
After the overthrow of Sadaam Hussein, the U.S. helped Nouri al-Maliki become Iraq’s prime minister. In the years following, al-Maliki helped consolidate Shiite power while neglecting the Sunnis and the Kurds. 
 
In Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom overthrew the Taliban’s government and helped push democratic election, leading to Hamid Karzai’s victory as president of Afghanistan.
 
But today, Iraq and Afghanistan obviously don’t match up to the strong-trunked trees of democracy that the U.S. made them out to be. 
 
In 2014 the Islamic State violently took over Mosul, sending the Iraqi security forces fleeing. The terrorist group’s incredible funds — received from oil fields in Syria and donations from wealthy Saudi Arabian individuals — have allowed its militants to oppress their lands with brutality. 
 
If you think that’s the end of the story, think again. Afghanistan is also treading the path toward more violence as the remnants of the Taliban are once again beginning to resurge. Just like the U.S. has been worried about the Islamic State, it won’t be long until we have another conflict to add to our list of wars brewing in the regions to which we tried to gift democracy. 
 
Over the past year, Taliban insurgents have taken control over many rural parts of Afghanistan due to the country’s incredibly weak central government. Last week the Taliban advanced to capture Kunduz, a provincial capital with a population of about 300,000. This has been said to be the Taliban’s largest military success. 
 
A few days ago the Afghan military announced it had reclaimed the northern city. Nevertheless, this attack’s initial success solidified the authority of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. It will likely extinguish any hope for negotiations or peace talks. 
 
What’s worse is that the Afghan military isn’t ready for a fight against the Taliban. The latest data suggest the Afghan security forces are incredibly subpar and that they are severely deficient in resources. 
 
It’s been proven time and time again that unilateral action isn’t a solution to crises in the Middle East. Right now, democracy in the region shouldn’t be anyone’s goal — the goal should be peace. Regional actors like China, India, Pakistan and Russia will have to play an increased role in Afghanistan to stabilize the country’s conflicts multilaterally and with cooperation. These governments also need to step up in response to the Islamic State. Anything short of increased regional and global action will be a path toward more violence and instability.