Afghanistan is a landlocked country divided by mountains within, into regions. These regions have distinct and separate ethnic populations with different languages. There are no railways and few airports. The roads are poor and snowbound in the winters. There has never been a prolonged era of a strong central government in its nearly 200 years of independent existence. A strong ruler in Kabul like the 'Iron Emir' has met with rebellions in the outer regions. A liberal ruler bent on reform (Amanullah, his grandson) had to abdicate. Affinities are tribal and local and at their widest extend to being Pashtun (45%), Tajik (30+%), Uzbek, Hazara, Turkomen, Baloch (rest). Earlier, the Afghan culture, though Islamic, was more tolerant. The Carter and Reagan administrations in their strategy of giving the Soviets their Vietnam, nurtured the fanatic Islamic mujahideen and Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE financed and provided military and logistic support to the Taliban that led to sanctuary for Osama Bin Laden and 9-11.
The US, afraid of American casualties, used the Northern Alliance (Tajiks & Uzbeks) as foot soldiers while providing devastating aerial bombardment. Drug Lords became our allies and Karzai, a CIA stooge was made president. He is corrupt, incompetent and ineffective. Afghanistan does not have enough tax or other revenues to support an effective police force or army. Thus their pay is insufficient to survive and less than what Taliban pays to its fighters from drug smuggling and kidnapping. The police therefore resort to extortion and bribe taking, making them feared and hated. The farmers in the Pashtun belt take to poppies to make a living, under coercion by the Taliban with whom they share religion and ethnicity. Afghans are notoriously xenophobic, aggressive and prone to shifting alliances for bribes. Dostum, the Uzbek leader has fought with and against the communists, Soviets, mujahideen and Taliban
Britain fought three wars against the Afghans and won initially by superior arms. Of a nearly 17,000 strong garrison after the first wa,r only one person survived the guerilla warfare with the tribes. Pakistan was the only real backer on the ground of the Taliban. Shiite Iran was against them for massacring its diplomats in Mazar-e-Sharif. Russia was against them for spreading Islamic radicalism in its southern Muslim republics. Uzbekistan and its leader Karimov were against them for their support of the radical rebel group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Tajikistan was against them for an earlier civil war in which they supported the radical rebels. India was against them as they had given asylum to the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane in Afghanistan. America was against them because of 9-11. Pakistan's ulterior motive was to gain strategic depth and use Afghanistan as a safe haven for its nuclear weapons and to train terrorists to destabilize Kashmir. Pakistan has a longstanding border dispute with Afghanistan and has as many Pashtuns on its side of the border as has Afghanistan. Pakistani Pashtuns have agitated for a Pashtunistan, further fragmenting Pakistan. It thus tried to develop a common Islamic identity to overcome a parochial Pashtun one.
Pakistan gave in to the US ultimatum to provide bases to the Americans to oust the Taliban, but continued its covert support of them even while receiving massive US aid. The US is now tired of fighting in Afghanistan and of the horrible Karzai government. It's real reason for attacking and controlling Afghanistan was access to Central Asian oil and gas and erecting pipelines which bypass Russia and relieve the near total dependence of Europe on Russian gas. This is also why it has a huge base in Kosovo and declared its independence from Serbia. It is also the reason for supporting and arming Georgia and trying to give it NATO membership. Iran, India, Russia and Afghanistan's neighbors are doing their damnedest to keep the Taliban out of Afghanistan. Pakistan is doing the opposite and the US is beginning to shift to the Pakistani view. The outcome will be further destruction of Afghanistan and with the fraudulent recent election, the beginning of Afghanistan breakup.
Obama is beholden to his campaign contributors and more interested in winning re-election than in the good of the country or the common man. This is why he has kept the Geithners, Summers, Bernankes etc. even though they were the architects of the American market meltdown The American public opinion and budget deficits paint the US in to a corner. A withdrawal means ceding Turkmenistan gas reserves control to Russia. A brokered agreement with the Taliban is likely to be countered by Russia, Iran and India. India has given generous aid to the Karzai government and since he wants to make peace with the Taliban, India as usual, has been duped by the idiocy of its leaders. The recent revelations by Dr. Santhanam that India's hydrogen bomb was a fizzle, proves what liars the BJP are and how Manmohan Singh sold out India by signing the civil nuclear agreement.