I just finished "We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope," edited by the George W. Bush Institute with introduction by Laura Bush. I learned so much from these stories. These stories were written by women who have horror stories to tell but that is not the focus of the book. The women offer hope by telling their stories and then voicing their ideas about how this has happened and what to do to make lives better for women as well as the entire culture of Afghanistan.
According to these women the root cause of the suffering - not radical religious beliefs but simply put, 40 years of unending war and interference from so many countries that has led to the annihilation of not only their economy but their entire culture.These women believe that education is the key to change, but not just education for women - the men as well.
The women also give two reasons for the Taliban's and Isis' success in Afghanistan. The main reason young men join their cause aside from ignorance and a total disconnect from their heritage and culture is money - not radical devotion to their hate. Where did the weapons come from in the first place? The Taliban and ISIS got their weapons from those supplied by the United States to help the mujaheddin fight against the Soviet invasion. When the Soviets left, the United States along with the United Nations did nothing to enforce a peaceful transition, including the demilitarization and restoration of a free government. As a student and teacher of history throughout my life, I can see that what has happened in Afghanistan to destroy cultures and create so much suffering is simply what has happened throughout human existence, unending war.