How was the military intervention in Afghanistan legally justified?

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis suggests that the war in Afghanistan, which was of dubious legality, was legitimated by the US and its allies through repeated deployment of a gendered heroic narrative that focussed on liberating Afghan women. This narrative presented the US and its allies as chivalrous white knights rescuing oppressed Afghan women from the clutches of the evil Taliban. This construction is problematic because the heroic narrative obscures alternative, more complex narratives and readings of the conflict that cast the actors, and as a result the conflict itself, in a less favourable light. Moreover, this thesis will suggest that the narrative is actually based on the false assumption that war can benefit women; an assumption that is not supported by the historical evidence. Furthermore, this thesis will suggest that despite the use of this rhetoric around the liberation of women, the position of Afghan women has not actually improved as a result of the military intervention there.This thesis will ultimately conclude that as regards the 'War On Terror' the gendered heroic narrative was promoted primarily to cloak tenuously legal military force with a veneer of legitimacy, rather than improve women's lives, and that acquiescence to the use of this narrative is ultimately dangerous. In highlighting this, this thesis draws attention to the endorsement of force by feminists and cautions against such endorsement arguing that war is rarely in women's interests.
Date of Award11 Feb 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorTherese O'Donnell (Supervisor) & Cyrus Tata (Supervisor)

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