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Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency$
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Thomas H. Johnson and Barry Zellen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804785952

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804785952.001.0001

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Weapons of the Not So Weak in Afghanistan

Weapons of the Not So Weak in Afghanistan

Pashtun Agrarian Structure and Tribal Organization

(p.94) (p.95) 4 Weapons of the Not So Weak in Afghanistan
Culture, Conflict, and Counterinsurgency

Thomas J. Barfield

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the classical model of interaction between a subsistence-based agrarian (and pastoral) society and one based on irrigated agriculture and cities as propounded by medieval Arab social theorist and historian Ibn Khaldum. Ibn Khaldum contended that desert civilizations must have predated sedentary ones because they were less complex socially and simpler economically. Although Afghanistan fits the model well, further reading unveils how modification is needed to explain the rise of the more hierarchical tribal organization that was characteristic of the ruling dynasties. Pashtun is depicted by three ideal criteria of identity; Pashtun decent, speaking Pashto, and conducting life in accord with Pashtun cultural code of values. In conclusion, the author frames Taliban successful expansion into Pashtun areas by allowing the leaders to retain their local powers under Taliban administration and causing an environment of anarchy.

Keywords:   classical model of interaction, subsistence based agrarian, irrigated agriculture, Ibn Khaldum, desert civilization, hierarchical tribal organization

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