Having traveled and researched in Afghanistan since 1988, Gilles Dorronsoro has developed a rich and nuanced understanding of the country's history and people. In Revolution Unending
he draws on his extensive firsthand experience to consider the political, historical, economic, and ethnic factors that will influence Afghanistan's future. He argues that U.S. optimism about Afghanistan following Western intervention and recent elections fails to appreciate the divisions that continue to define the country.
While not underestimating the oft-cited "ethnic factor" in Afghan politics, especially Pashtun dominance, Dorronsoro argues that class and the competition for employment and education are key factors in explaining the country's recent past. The 1990s saw the triumph of religious authorities (the ulema) and the marginalization of the traditional elites. With coalition intervention in 2001 and the subsequent deposition of the ulema-dominated Taliban, the educated elites are back in power. However, as Dorronsoro argues, patching up the country by means of short-term ethnic alliances and a new division of the spoils will only perpetuate the schisms in society. The Afghan civil war, Dorronsoro suggests, is set to continue and perhaps worsen over time.