Perhaps the most striking of the key points in Donald Trump’s policy statement on Afghanistan and South Asia is the point stating that the United States of America will be “no longer nation-building” but just ‘killing terrorists’ in Afghanistan. While taking war and nation-building as two separate subjects, president Trump declared that the United States of America will only focus on the war in Afghanistan and it’s the responsibility of the Afghan people “to secure and rebuild their own nation”. “We will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands, or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over”, Trump said in his speech. This idea marks, a big rhetorical shift in the US approach towards the particularities of the state-craft in the world, implying that the war against terrorism is basically a war against America’s enemies abroad and that the American subjectivism of the state-craft can now coexist with somewhat non-American forms or brands of the state system even in those countries which are considered as America’s ‘bases’ in the world. However, it’s not clear what change Trump is indicating at. Does he mean the days of globalisation, de-territorialisation and neo-liberalism? Is terrorism no more the enemy of liberal democracy? At this level of analysis, Trump’s remark about ‘our own image’ can be put in relation to the grand-narrative of global democracy and globalisation at large, inquiring about whether this point really indicates at the advent of a new American politics or is merely a verbalism. Beside this, in Afghanistan’s case it’s crystal clear that it’s this ongoing war on terrorism that defines, by and large, the limits of nation-building in the country. In practice, neither the US nor the Afghan people could take counterterrorism and nation-building as two mutually exclusive spheres. In reality, they complement each other. It’s significant to note that (counter) terrorism is taken as the most serious issue in state nationalism and as the most serious consideration in the process of nation-building in Afghanistan. So, it’s worth asking whether the Afghans can reclaim their nation — from the ongoing war in their country. Clearly, they don’t have any such option in hand. Moreover, terrorism is not carried out through bombs and guns only, it has a politics, a literature, a media, and a psychology too. Therefore, the war on terrorism if it was fought only on the military ground might not be successful in bringing on going stability in Afghanistan and the region. Needless to say, the US could (not?) get out of the resolution of the problem they and their allies in the region, particularly Pakistan, created with the help of their militant proxies. If Trump’s administration pulls out of the process of nation-building in Afghanistan, the situation will be eerily similar to the same mistake the US committed in the late 1980s, when a comprehensive plan of regional cooperation and Afghan national reconciliation offered by the then Afghan president Dr Najibullah was ignored by key players. Following that there was an intense fragmentation in the state structure and increased violence in the Post-Cold War period. Today, the struggle for nation-building in Afghanistan is, in fact, a struggle for resurrecting of the enlightened polity ruined by the post-Cold War politics; building on the historical and civilisational foundations of the state and bridging the Afghan nation with the contemporary world in a more democratic and peaceful manner. Nevertheless, negotiations have always played a more decisive role than war in Afghanistan. It’s abundantly clear that the democratic and political transformations, that have taken place over the experiences of four decades in war, migration and poverty, prevent the militants from getting any social legitimacy from their ideology and networking in the country. In the post 9/11 context, it’s worth mentioning that the Afghan side has always willingly and responsibly participated in a dialogue process with the Taliban, Pakistan and other players but it’s undoubtedly the other side that has always sabotaged avenues of advancement in political and diplomatic consensus regarding regional peace and cooperation. The struggle for nation-building in Afghanistan is, in fact, a struggle for resurrecting the enlightened polity ruined by the post-Cold War politics; building on the historical and civilisational foundations of the state and bridging the Afghan nation with the contemporary world in a more democratic and peaceful manner Now the circumstances have changed. The state in Afghanistan appears stronger than ever before. But a serious issue the Afghan people are yet to recognise is that when a political consciousness does not properly translate itself into an organisational representation, it often turns into sadist rhetoric’s of helplessness and victimhood in front of an organised challenge. Just two days before the announcement of the new US strategy, Afghanistan celebrated its 98th Independence Day. On 19August 1919, the enlightened Afghan King Amanullah Khan succeeded in liberating Afghanistan’s foreign policy from British influence, which eventually led to international recognition of its independence. Amanullah instituted a modern constitution for the first time in the country’s history, assured the rule of law and launched a reforms project that included civil rights, social justice and equality, modern education for both sexes, women rights and modernisation of the state and society but the project was not completed due to the foreign interference and internal rebellions. The current Afghan president Ashraf Ghani terms this episode as ‘an incomplete chapter in contemporary Afghan history’ and he vows to complete it. The completion of that chapter means the completion of the current process of nation-building in Afghanistan. The writer is an anthropologist and a Pashto poet. He tweets @khanzamankakar Published in Daily Times, August 31st 2017.