Afghanistan’s position in the world has been conceived in a number of different ways: as a buffer state, as a graveyard of empires, as a cultural crossroads and as a theatre of competition between regional states. All of these have some truth to them. It has complex relations with a range of different states. Pakistan for decades has sought to manipulate Afghan politics, to the point where its backing for extremist groups, such as the Taliban amounts virtually to a creeping invasion of Afghanistan. This has occurred in the context of its tense relations with India, with which Afghanistan has sought cordial relations. Iran has meddled on occasion in Afghanistan, but to nothing like the extent that Pakistan has, and largely to send signals in the context of Iran’s own intense relationship with the United States. China and Russia are potentially important players in Afghanistan, not least because of the influence of China may be able to exercise over Pakistan, but each has displayed a considerable degree of caution in positioning itself. Afghanistan’s relations with the United States are vital but fraught, not least because of the peculiarities of the US administration under President Trump. Afghanistan cannot afford to ignore international factors as drivers of conflict within Afghanistan itself, but it lacks a strong toolset to address the problem directly. That said, Afghanistan over the last two decades has been changed enormously by the forces of globalisation, and this is likely to continue.