Barfield clearly thinks knowing more about the target country would have been a good idea. Sometimes he seems downright irritated by his Western audience's inability or disinclination to understand that other people with different histories and economies might have genuinely different cultures and values. Our incomprehension drives him to find explanatory analogies; the result is interesting and amusing. Here's a snippet describing historic Afghan accommodation with a succession of foreign rulers in terms we can easily grasp:
Barfield surveys Afghan history and culture with a view to understanding how the current U.S. and NATO occupation could have gotten so lost. He's no fan of the "graveyard of empires" theory that Afghanistan is simply unconquerable. In fact, he explains that Afghanistan has been rendered close to a failed state because of the successful imposition of foreign conflicts subsequent to the Soviet invasion of 1979.
Eventually Afghans achieved their objective -- to throw out the Soviet foreigners. But they had drunk foreign poisons that made them ripe for civil war.
Into this context the United States came stumbling seeking revenge for 9/11. Barfield believes that foreign eruption was cautiously welcomed.
The constitutional system the Western powers have sponsored for the Afghans has not enabled them to work through that contest. We from the West usually take the view that if there has been an election, governing legitimacy automatically follows. The Afghans, not so much so.
At this point, Karzai has failed and continued U.S. military presence has also failed in the sense that there is still no plausible vision of what a stable, viable Afghanistan for the Afghans would look like. Sooner or later, these ancient peoples will work that out for themselves. The United States is not going to keep pouring lives and treasure down this bottomless sink hole forever, regardless of the proclamations of politicians. We can't afford to.
Barfield certainly believes Afghans will sort out their national future themselves. He ends on an upbeat note.