Afghanistan: Triumph or failure?

 The Daily Journalist community opinion.



6 trillion dollars later, most media outlets have set decreed the official end of the US intervention in Afghanistan (2001-2014), but The Daily Journalist can confirm that close to 10,000 US soliders are kept deployed in Afghanistan, mostly in Kandahar, on the Helmand province. Over 4,000 young US veterans have died  and over 30,000 Taliban members have been killed over the past 13 years, but what was the ultimate goal in Afghanistan?  

1) In your view: Did the United States win the war in Afghanistan?

2) What is the view worldwide of the US intervention in Afghanistan after a decade of war? Positive or negative in your view?

3) Did you ever support the intervention in Afghanistan?

4) ) With less US troops on the ground and will  Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-E-Taiba and the Taliban in Pakistan who are openly reinforcing the Taliban in Afghanistan, will it become even worse?

5) What does the future hold for Afghanistan?




David Isenberg.

(During 2009 he ran the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers project at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. He testified before Congress on labor trafficking by a KBR subcontractor. He is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat. His affiliations include the Straus Military Reform Project and the Independent Institute. He is a US Navy veteran)

1) If winning is defined as achieving your strategic goals, i.e. destroying al-Qaeda, eliminate Afghanistan as an Al Qaeda staging area, making Afghanistan into a stable state, then, no, the U.S> did not achieve its goals. 

2) Generally negative. Most other countries, not being as emotionally or militarily  invested in Afghanistan, as the United States, can see that the U.S. did not achieves its goals (see above point) and, for those who aided the U.S., they have now become, subject to AQ attacks.

3) Initially yes, on the basis that it would be a limited campaign to destroy Al Qaeda. Once it turned into national building I dropped my support.

4) Yes, many of the so-called gains in Afghanistan are, at best, shaky and tenuous. I foresee continued violence for years to come.

5) Many of the adjoining countries – India, Pakistan, Russia, will be intervening there to secure what they see as their national interest. There will be a diminution of the effectiveness of the central government and power will accrue to regional governors/warlords.


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Jamil Maidan Flores. 

(He has been speechwriter to the President and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia from January 1992 to the present—a period of more than 22 years. He has served under five presidents (Suharto, Bacharuddin Habibie, Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and four foreign ministers (Ali Alatas, Alwi Shihab, Noer Hassan Wirajuda and Marty M. Natalegawa)

1) It’s clear to my mind that the US and the NATO did not win the recently officially concluded war in Afghanistan. The Taliban is still very much around and can still inflict massive carnage given the opportunity. It can still host elements, even cells of foreign terrorist organizations and, under favorable conditions, threaten the government in Kabul. In fairness to the US and the NATO, nobody wins this kind of war any more; it is too asymmetrical for a clear victory by the stronger side. You may even be able to wipe out this generation of the Taliban, but you cannot erase the possibility of future incarnations, or the rise of new players to take up the battle, as happened in Iraq. The killing of Osama bin Laden—in Pakistan– provides some kind of consolation, but that’s all. A consolation. The Al Qaida did not die with him. Instead it multiplied itself.

2) I once thought that in the beginning there was sufficient popular support in the international community for the war effort of the US and the NATO in Afghanistan—at least in the very beginning—but I was wrong. Poll after poll on public opinion in various countries showed that the war was unpopular. This is quite sad because it means that from the very beginning, most people did not mind the Taliban having their brutal way with the Afghan population.

3) I did think that the launching of military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan deserved international support because no ruling government should be allowed to coddle and nurture Al Qaida, and besides there was legal basis for that military action (Article 51 of the UN Charter). I was further convinced of the legality and wisdom of the action when the UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force, to which 44 countries contributed troops and materiel.

As the years and months passed, however, I began to think that the overall war against terror wasn’t being pursued right. Too many human rights violations. It didn’t take long for me to realize that a US and NATO victory in Afghanistan was impossible, and that when they have done all that could be done, the main body of US and NATO forces should pull out of the country, leaving just enough troops and sufficient support to prevent or at least make it extremely difficult for a resurgent Taliban to threaten the life of the government in Kabul.

4) All these forces will certainly be looking for an opportunity to help the Afghan Taliban carry out a surge that will sweep toward Kabul a la Isis in Iraq and Syria.  These opportunities can only be the principal result of the negligence, incompetence and corruption on the part of the new Afghan government and its successors, and the Afghan military. If these opportunities are created for the Taliban and its supporting forces, not even the new security deals with the US and NATO will save the government in Kabul.

5) The future of Afghanistan depends on how well the new government and its successors, and the Afghan military will perform. The brief career of the late freedom fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud proves that the Taliban can be beaten in the battlefield and in the battle for hearts and minds of the people by a competent leader. If the current political, military and other leaders of Afghanistan can emulate to some degree the kind of leadeship that Shah Massoud wielded, the future of Afghanistan is bright.



David W. Kearn. Jr.

(He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at St. John’s University in New York. He was published by the RAND Corporation in 2012 after he concluded a year-long Stanton Nuclear SecurityFellowship in RAND’s Washington, DC office. His research interests include international relations theory, US foreign policy, military innovation, and arms control)

1) The initial primary objective of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan was to destroy the core of Al Qaeda and its infrastructure there and remove the Taliban government from power because it had given sanctuary to Al Qaeda and its leaders.  This objective was clearly achieved, in relatively short order, by the United States military and its coalition partners. 

Moving from the very clear, limited objective, the Bush administration attempted to work with Afghan parties to help build a new Afghan state, despite the skepticism that then-candidate George W. Bush expressed concerning “nation building” exercises undertaken during the Clinton administration.  In all fairness, there was a relatively large, bipartisan consensus in Washington that helping cooperative Afghans build a stable government to prevent a potential return of the Taliban (and a sanctuary for AQ) made strategic sense, but soon the Bush administration would shift its focus to Iraq.  It seemed likely at the time and has only become more apparent in hindsight that this was a catastrophic mistake.  The decision to launch a war against Saddam Hussein would necessarily remove resources from the Afghanistan mission, but it is perhaps more important that the focus of Washington policymakers shifted to Iraq, undermining what may have been possible in Afghanistan.  

To sum up – the United States won the war in Afghanistan but the nature of the peace remains an open question. 

2) This is difficult to answer, but I think it is really important not to conflate Afghanistan with the Iraq War.  While some may reflexively oppose the use of military force by the United States anywhere, at any time, the United States clearly had broad support (in both domestic political and international terms) for the intervention in Afghanistan.  Al Qaeda had used the sanctuary provided by the Taliban to launch a large-scale terrorist attack against the United States.  The U.S. clearly had legitimate cause to attack Afghanistan.  After over a decade of involvement, the views of the intervention are less clear, and I would expect that this would be reflected in surveys of public opinion.  It is really a mixed bag.  The Taliban was brutal regime that no one wants to see resume power, but there are clearly limits to what can be achieved by an outside power on a society that has been so fractured and divided by decades of violence. 

3) Absolutely.  After the September 11 attacks it was clear that Al Qaeda had to be destroyed and that Afghanistan could no longer be allowed to be a sanctuary for a terrorist group that had struck the United States.  It is less clear whether the counter-terrorism mission necessitated a post-conflict reconstruction/stabilization campaign, but the current limited U.S. commitment seems to provide a “back stop” that could support Kabul while avoiding the problems of a full withdrawal.     

4) This is difficult to say.  Pakistan has seemingly taken strong steps against its own militants, so perhaps that external dynamic will be less important moving forward.  At some point the Afghan security forces and the Afghan military will have to really fight their own battles against the Taliban, and that will provide the ultimate answer on the effectiveness of U.S. efforts.  Unfortunately, the record is not particularly encouraging, and this residual force seems like a hedge against what transpired in Iraq after the removal of troops.  But an open-ended, large-scale commitment of troops was simply unsustainable, so again, this current policy seems prudent, if unlikely to achieve much more than maintaining a tenuous status quo.

5) Sadly, it seems highly unlikely that Afghanistan will see peace anytime soon.  The Taliban represents a strong enough force to continue to play a spoiler role in any national political reconciliation.  As long as the United States support the regime in Kabul, however, it is unlikely that the Taliban could threaten to consolidate power over the entire nation.  Until the Taliban – or more constructive/less radical elements of the Taliban’s base – decide that negotiation may be preferable to violence, the conflict is likely to continue.  Therefore we are likely to see a relatively weak central Afghan government, relegated primarily to Kabul and surrounding areas, and fairly strong local and regional leaders that may choose to cooperate with Kabul or follow their own agendas depending on the issue.     



Anna Corsaro. 

(She is a Crisis and Homeland Security Advisor for Governments, Corporations and NGOs leading a Team of Experts. She has worked as Multi Unit Hospitality General Manager, CEO, Board of Directors, Government Consultant, Special Adviser for Secretary of Embassy,Consultant for a Law Enforcement Agency)

1) Absolute poverty has risen by about ten percentage points in Afghanistan since the beginning of the war; life expectancy has fallen to 44 years, infant mortality has increased to reach 150 per thousand, the literacy rate is around 30 %. At the moment of Mullah Omar’s ban on poppy cultivation in 2000 there were 82 thousand hectares devote.

Today there are 123 thousand after peaking at 193 thousand in 2007, and amazingly the drop was a mere result of a crisis by overproduction. Today Afghanistan is also a direct exporter of 400 tons per year of heroin. The institution are corrupted now as they were in during the Karzai era, terror attacks haven’t ceased and the human rights violations are common place. 2014 has been one of the bloodiest years of the war, with the victim count of almost 10,000 and the Taliban are far from being defeated. I cannot define this a victory.

2) Its definitely negative. According to an independent survey of the Pew Research Center even 52% of the veterans don’t think that the war was worth it. Opinion of civilians are more negative, especially outside the United States.

3) I do support the battle against terrorism, I did not support any intervention in Afghanistan because I do not support wars that make use of the excuse of terrorism to pursue a hidden agenda.

4)  The Taliban are still a powerful presence after 13 years of facing superior military forces. They will probably reinforce their presence, but this is a consequence of the incapacity of defeating them after all this time.

5) Historically peace in Afghanistan has always brought as problematic as wars, often times accelerating the conditions that lead into new conflicts. That happened after the withdrawal of Soviet troops in 1989. The following government did not receive any real support from the international community,  collapsing not long after paving the way for the rise of the Taliban. It is possible that tomorrow the situation will be exactly like yesterday, with the Taliban getting stronger.



Jon Kofas.

(Retired Indiana University university professor. Academic Writing. International Political Economy – Fiction)

1) The US had lost the war in Afghanistan as soon as it invaded, despite individual battles won against Afghan rebels allied to various warlords and groups as we will see. Ideologues blinded by rationalizations intended to justify the military solution-oriented US policy, certain corporate interests profiting from war (charging $10 per bottle of water for the troops), the Israeli lobby, and the US media along with an assortment of right-wing think tanks refused to see it ten years ago as they do today. Perhaps it was the idea that the US had just “won the Cold War”, so why could it not win against Muslim rebels in the mountains of Afghanistan?

Despite the futility of this war that carried a very heavy price for the people of the invaded land, the US continued presumably to save face and to show that indeed a real effort had been made before withdrawal that left behind a land more divided than ever. Remnants of die-hard Cold War mindset, right-wing ideology, and the symbolism of another American loss transcend pragmatism among US policymakers – Republicans and Democrats alike. Even if Obama had ordered an additional 100,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2010 to the existing 50,000 troops on the ground, the US could have never kept Afghanistan in its sphere of influence once the troops withdrew. Besides, did the US have the luxury of massive defense spending without any tangible results to show for it? 

That the US has recently signed a bilateral agreement with Kabul, parallel to the one Kabul signed with NATO, is an indication of its failure to find a political solution and that it sees no alternative to military occupation, at least in the next few years. Meanwhile, the rebel activity has not and will not stop. Just as the US could not win the war in Vietnam against the Communist North, similarly, it could and cannot possibly rely on a military solution to Afghanistan, an Islamic country with deep suspicion if not tremendous hatred for the secular imperialist West that has invaded the country since the First Opium War and tried to deprive it of its national sovereignty in every domain from political to economic.

2) Without any doubt, Muslims throughout the world opposed US military intervention as they continue to do, considering there is no substantive change in US foreign policy. In the non-Muslim world, there was never much support for US militarism as the election of 2008 proved when Obama candidly admitted that the US had become very unpopular throughout the world, but he would change all of that by changing US foreign policy. The unpopularity of the US persists because human rights organizations have charged US-NATO forces have used white phosphorus, a napalm-like chemical to combat the rebels of Afghanistan, and drones kill mostly civilians. These constitute war crimes for which the US and its NATO partners will never answer at the International Court of Justice.

In the June 1984 issue of the State Department Bulletin, the US raised the issue of chemical weapons use in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. The US argued that chemical weapons use constitutes “a violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925, related rules of customary international law, and the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.” Moreover, the US took its case before the UN General Assembly at a time that Reagan’s defense secretary was talking about ‘limited nuclear war’ as ‘acceptable’ as long as it does not take place in the US. That was then when the Soviets had troops in Afghanistan. In the 1980s, the CIA encouraged Afghan warlords to have peasants grow heroin along with hashish that was sold to Soviet troops. Under US military presence in Afghanistan, warlords have used the exact same strategy on NATO troops that they used on Soviets. This was one problem facing NATO that knows better than anyone the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause.

Another problem is that in June 2009, the US media reported that Afghan rebels were allegedly using white phosphorus. But who exactly produces white phosphorus? We know that Israel has used it against Palestinians. The chemical decomposes the human flesh like a strong acid poured. If Afghan rebels acquired white phosphorus, then who provided it for them? China and Russia may be candidates, but not the only ones, if they have any role at all. 

The Obama election in 2008 did in fact bring about a change in US perception because the rest of the world believed the new president would in fact change the course of foreign policy from militarism and unilateralism to multilateralism and diplomatic solutions to crises. The world believed that the American culture of covert and overt interventionism would come to an end and a new era had dawned in Washington when Obama took office.

The only change from Bush to Obama was reduced reliance on “boots on the ground” and shift to greater reliance on technology, including drones, and contractors working for DoD. Given that there was no policy change and the US continues on the path of neo-imperialism in Afghanistan as in the greater Middle East area, world public opinion toward the US is right back where Bush left it in 2008. While people in public opinion polls like many aspects of American society, they deplore its foreign policy. Anti-Americanism as a political and cultural phenomenon remains very strong in most of the world. This is not just among the media and governments, but among the people as well.

3) I never supported the war in Afghanistan because a military solution to a political problem results in mass destruction where the victims are mostly innocent civilians. Not just on moral grounds, but practical ones, including nebulous publicly stated goals about US delivering “freedom and democracy”, always at gunpoint. The idea that the US could “win the war on terror” by invading Afghanistan was as absurd in the planning stages, as irrational in its motivations and execution as the current plans to maintain a regime of military occupation on a more limited basis for the next three years.

When Bush announced the invasion I believed and I still maintain today that war would accomplish absolutely nothing, including the publicly-stated goals of the Bush administration and the rationalizations Obama provided for continuing the war. Other than an immense cost to the US budget and civilian economy from which resources were diverted, and other than the absurd “war on terror” regime that replaced the Cold War, the national interest measured in terms of what is best for the totality of the American people has been damaged very seriously under Bush and Obama. It is beyond doubt that besides a handful of US corporations, the beneficiaries of the US invasion in Afghanistan were Iran and China. As the US was spending enormous amounts of money on a futile war, China was focused on building its civilian economy which is now the world’s number one.

Taking advantage of its geographic proximity to Afghanistan and given its interest in raw materials, China was striking deals with Kabul that it may not have the opportunity to secure if it were not for the pro-US regime. In return for some Chinese aid for infrastructural development similar to what China does in Africa, Afghanistan has signed deal for mining operations, mostly copper that China needs. In due course, Afghanistan will become an economic satellite of China, but closely linked politically to Pakistan and with ties to Iran as well. While the US invaded with the goal of limiting Iran’s role in the regional balance of power, the exact opposite took place, as the government in Tehran strengthened its position with weakened neighbors.

There are over one million Afghan refugees in Iran that the government has used as a bargaining chip with Kabul. Moreover, Iran had backed insurgent groups. The US realization that it needs Iran to stabilize Afghanistan, along with Syria and Iraq, of course, is an admission of its shortsighted militarist-oriented foreign policy that precludes political solutions as a priority because it deems destabilization would work to its benefit.   

4) The US-Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement was signed on 30 September 2014, the same day that the NATO Status of Forces Agreement was signed. This is in essence a continuation of the status quo, with Afghanistan remaining a strategic satellite of the US-NATO. The alternative would be to leave completely and permit Iran to enjoy some influence with Pakistan possibly reducing the country into its satellite after reaching an agreement with the Taliban. While US-NATO troops would not formally be engaged in combat operations on the ground, they would have “training and advisory roles” largely to combat “terrorism” which may require US Special Ops forces engagement.

Drone missions that many governments and human rights organizations have castigated as war crimes will continue not only in Afghanistan but Pakistan well. Only at the end of 2017 would the US “consider” reducing its military role into what it calls “normal” but without specifying it. This is a prescription for continued bloodshed in Afghanistan to the detriment of the people as well as neighboring Pakistan. The Taliban and warlords are not losing their strength, but gaining as the military occupation persists. While the symbolism of Osama Bin Laden’s death may have been significant for the US, the level of Islamic unconventional warfare (terrorism) has actually increased since the US declared “war on terror”, reminiscent of the “war on drugs”, the other US success story on the domestic front! Why would al-Qaeda give up its operations in Afghanistan until there is removal of foreign forces and a political solution coming from inside the country with regional powers as supporting players?

As far as the Pakistani-based Lashkar-E-Taiba, it is highly unlikely that the government in Pakistan can do very much about it, given that the government has a history of creating and cooperating with insurgent groups to achieve its foreign policy aims. Why would Pakistan give up another foreign policy leverage it has in its arsenal?  How likely is Pakistan intelligence, ISI, to give up its valuable links to Lashkar-E-Taiba just because the US and NATO are opposed to this “terrorist organization”? When militant Islamic groups look at the success of ISIS why would they not be encouraged? 

5) The future of Afghanistan in the next three to five years looks very much like the past, namely, unstable unless there is a regime able to forge some kind of consensus among the disparate tribes and coopting the warlords into the political process. An estimated 200 warlords in charge of militias call themselves freedom fighters just as they did when the US supported them against the Soviet-backed secular regime in the 1980s. These warlords are in many respects the local power that is much more powerful than the Taliban and al-Qaeda combined, largely because they are grassroots with local support and sources rooted in the heroin economy.

What kind of regime can forge a functional consensus in Afghanistan so that the country’s rebuilding could start and the people enjoy relative peace and reconstruction of their country and their lives? First, any strictly secular regime would fail, so it would have to one that takes the religious and tribal traditions into account of the disparate groups. Second, massive aid of such an inclusive regime from different sources, including China, Pakistan, India, Iran, as well as the EU, US, and oil-rich Arab countries would have to flow into the country to rebuild it and secure a sustainable legitimate economy instead of the illegal one rooted in corruption.  

Without the strategic cooperation of Pakistan and Iran, and without the tolerance of its close neighbors, including India, China, and Russia, there cannot be a stable regime in Kabul. How likely that we would see stability in Afghanistan? I suspect that when the economy begins to improve at a rapid pace and peoples’ lives improve, stability is inevitable. However, this will not come any time soon, because it is highly unlikely for the warlords and Taliban to be appeased unless they continue to have a political and economic stake in the new regime.
Externally-imposed solutions such as the US interventionist model will end in unmitigated failure. 

Only domestic players, with the assistance of regional powers can make Afghanistan stable, not permanent military occupation. This does not mean that the world ought to turn a blind eye if a tyrannical regime emerges. However, there is a huge difference between genuine international cooperation intended to help bring about the best form of government in Kabul, and US military intervention. While the permanent US military occupation, with NATO backing leaves no room for optimism, the US-Iran rapprochement is a good beginning for international cooperation at the same time that China’s economic presence is also a source of relative stability and promise for Afghanistan’s future.



Hossein Amiri.

(Used to work For Tehran based Mehr News Agency in Iran. He now working for Young Journalist Club (YJC). He specializes on Middle east, US, And Russian Foreign policy)

1. To me yes because Afghanistan now is safer than before.  The US lead a coalition attack and now the Taliban has nothing to say in the country. Al Qaeda has fled from Afghanistan. The bad thing is that Al Qaeda has lost its perch in  Afghanistan and dispersed around the world. The US negotiated with the Taliban in Qatar, and this made them more civilized than before. We can see the implications of the negotiation in the Afghan Taliban branch position against the Pakistani Version’s of the school attack.

2. No matter who are against a move or who are pro, the results presently show a positive change. Many people sat behind windows drinking tea, printing some prescription for all local and global Issues which usually all are based on a Marxist ideology. This mentality has devastated half of the world for nearly half of the century.

3. Yes. Intervention is not usually bad. See the Balkan’s case. when NATO intervened and save many Muslim life’s. even though at that point it was late.

4. Sure no doubt.

5. They are in the right track with many challenges ahead.



Dr. John Bruni.

(Director of SAGE International, open source intelligence and security consultancy based in Adelaide, South Australia, formerly served as Special Military Researcher Adviser at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR))

1) The United States did not win. The intervention was poorly planned from 2002 onwards. It sought to restructure Afghanistan into the semblance of a modern nation-state in the hope that the forces of light will defeat decisively the forces of darkness, as represented by the Taliban. This presupposed that Afghanistan was once a country in the Western sense, which of course it wasn’t. Had it been a functioning state as the West understood, foreign advisers may have been able to tap Afghan national traditions and re-created something akin to a stable, non-democratic autocracy. Such a state, hypothetically, could have undertaken most of the counter-insurgency fighting earlier on, say by 2005-06, and, post-Taliban, formed the basis of true national independence for the Afghan state.

That would have been a victory, had it been achieved. Complicating matters further was the Pakistani equation where rogue (and not-so rogue) elements of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency sought to undermine US and Coalition objectives whenever real or perceived Pakistani national interests were threatened. Pakistan has long considered Afghanistan as its ‘backyard’. There was a degree of wilful ignorance on behalf of Washington not to take this into account. A US victory in Afghanistan would have meant being able to accommodate Pakistani national interests especially as they relate to countering Indian stratagems in Afghanistan. As the US considered itself and its Western allies the strongest, most powerful force on the ground, the prevailing attitude that this powerful foreign force could in effect dictate events militarily in Afghanistan and effect the behaviour of powerful, stubborn interests in Islamabad was ambitious and arguably prevented a clear-cut US victory.

2) Generally negative. People love a war that goes well, in spite of the fact that they seldom do. We in the West are still haunted by what was achieved during World Wars I & II. As terrible as these conflagrations were, there were clear winners and losers. Clear good guys and bad guys. Even the Cold War held onto the generally simple view of how conflicts can be just and justified. This sort of clarity is good for a public’s psychology.

We all want to know that our investment of blood and treasure ‘did good’. What is bad for a public’s psychology is when at the end of a long war, like the Afghan war was, the best we leave behind is a frail, corrupt elite and an enemy that hasn’t actually been beaten – only marginally contained. People are likely to reflect badly on this sort of outcome because they don’t do ambiguity well. The only people who do well with ambiguity are politicians, spin doctors and advertisers since they are largely comfortable with amorality and with twisting the truth to create something more palatable. Ideologically motivated historians will also tend to come out of the woodwork after a while and justify why certain political leaders took the decisions they did during the Afghan war. In the end, all these historians will do is muddy the waters further. Hardly a good end to a war, hardly a good way for the public to remember it.

3) No. I supported the initial punishment of Al Qaeda and the Taliban for 9/11 which began in October 2001 and was generally accomplished by December 2001. This phase of the Afghan mission was clear and unambiguous. The Taliban gave shelter to Al Qaeda and that could not go unpunished after the crime of 9/11. As far as the rest of the war is concerned, it was ‘mission creep’ on steroids. It accomplished little the US or the West wanted, but it certainly enhanced deep instabilities within the existing fractured societies of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These instabilities will take years of concentrated effort to re-stabilise. Should war or insurgency break out again, as in time it surely must, a bankrupt West will not be able to keep fragile elites upright, nor will they be in a condition to militarily intervene to protect them. Had the US kept to its initial laser-like focus on using the CIA and local proxies to throw the Taliban out of Kabul and most of the other Afghan cities, and break the logistical back of Al Qaeda Central, local forces could have taken care of the rest. The US could have pulled out, justifiably claimed a clear victory and the ensuing vacuum within Afghanistan would have forced local militias to combine in some fashion to form a government. Had they fallen back into civil war, that then would have been for the Afghan people to sort out. It was not for the US and the West to ‘fix’ Afghanistan.

4) Yes, quite possibly. There is weakness in Kabul and weakness in Islamabad and out of these two sets of weakness, transboundary alliances between Afghan and Pakistani militants will seek to exploit what they may sense as ‘blood in the water’. The only caveat here really is Pakistan.

The recent school massacre in Peshawar will harden the resolve of the Pakistani military to exact revenge. We should not underestimate the amount of brutality the Pakistani Army can dish out to militant groups, even against the famed fighters of the Northwest Frontier Province. And yet, Pakistan has to chose its ground carefully. There are too many simultaneous national security missions it has to cope with and focusing on one to the exclusion of others will reveal vulnerabilities.

5) Short-term, continuing instability, medium-term possible (Taliban or non-Taliban Pashtun) dictatorship followed by renewed civil war.


Claude Forthomme. 

(Passionate traveler (80 countries+) 25 years experience in United Nations: project evaluation specialist; FAO Director for Europe/Central Asia)

1) No, at best it was a draw but it probably should be considered a defeat. Just one example to prove the point: the situation of women. It barely improved while the Americans were there and it is now poised to deteriorate fast.

2)  Definitely negative.

3) No. It would have been far better to negotiate with the Afghan authorities if there was solid evidence that the country was harboring Al Qaeda bosses (which appears to be the case). A full-out war was a totally disproportionate response.

4) Yes, much worse before it gets better, if it ever does.

5)  Dire. More of the same. A repeat of what happened after the Soviets left. In some countries, this kind of situation can last forever, look at Somalia or Sudan.



Steven Hansen.

(Publisher and Co-founder of Econintersect, is an international business and industrial consultant specializing in turning around troubled business units; consults to governments to optimize process flows; and provides economic indicator analysis based on unadjusted data and process limitations)

Having lived most of my working life outside of the USA, I have long realized American perceptions of the world is incorrect. American foreign policy is guided by officials who have not lived in outside of the USA except maybe for short periods of time behind the walls of a USA embassy shielded from the real country and culture they were in.

The American people believe the world wants to be like the USA – and the news is that it does not. Sure everyone likes certain elements – but not the whole enchilada. American style democracy is questioned as the global community sees the outright lies and distortions of the American leaders. The American actions are watched closely, and the real lack of fair play in its International dealings is obvious.

Ah Afghanistan …..

From a practical standpoint, the USA has never been able to prop up a corrupt government. One cannot fight irregulars (USA calls them terrorists) with regular army as there is no way to identify the enemy. I believed it was a mistake to send troops into Afghanistan. I might have been open to destabilizing the Taliban – if an end game was feasible (but I doubt this was so).

There is no feasible end game to this conflict. The country is tribal – and anyone who has lived in tribal countries knows you need a powerful leader like a Tito or Saddam Hussein to hold a country together. Afghanistan is not a real country – and I do not see how it can survive in any form based on the current lay of the land.



Seyed Mostafa Mousavipour.

(His research focus/interest is terrorism, fundamentalism, and sectarian violence in South Asia and the Middle East)

A thirteen-year inconclusive conflict that had been unnecessarily prolonged,  the US war in Afghanistan was definitely another glaring mistake of American foreign policy on a global scale. The outcome of such a myopic policy,  if anything,  was establishing global terrorism as a pretext for US imperialistic escapades – a reason for American military presence in the four corners of the world in defense of their national security.

To discuss the goals of this campaign,  one should look at it from two distinct perspectives: 1) The widely stated goal – that of spreading democracy by eliminating the threat of extremism and jihadist militancy rife in Afghanistan end the neighboring Pakistan; and 2) the latent less publicized goal – that of introducing terrorism as an international scourge jeopardizing the free world and establishing the US as a force for good fighting this evil. 

As far as the first goal is concerned, American venture was nothing but a total fiasco of tremendous proportions. The resurgence of militancy in Afghanistan at the behest of al Qaida-affiliated Haqqani Network,  the inadequacy of Afghan National Army and Police to reign in the extremism,  the regrouping of thousands of jihadists under new splinter factions in Pakistan’s tribal belt,  the TTP’s growing anti-western ideology and, in a nutshell,  the deep-rooted insecurity in Afghanistan and Pakistan is what is left after the 2015 drawdown of coalition forces. 

As regards the second goal,  the US was rather successful in that it freely deployed military force on different global stages in the post- 9/11 Era without feeling obliged to go through international conventions. By simply labeling some regional conflicts as the extention of international terrorism, American military campaign move unchecked across the globe in pursuit of democracy and peace. 

The outcome of these policies,  however,  has so far been grave security disasters, the results of which, are here to haunt the world for the years to come. The scourge of terrorism and religious militancy has developed on a faster pace into the Middle East and North Africa causing these regions to plunge further info the abyss of sectarian carnage and ethnic crisis. The emergence of the ISIL is the latest in a series of severe backlash to failed governance in the wake of foreign intervention. 

Indeed, the future of Afghanistan is pretty much bleak. The impact of long foreign troops’ presence was nothing but robbing the Afghan society of it’s vibrancy. A country that has nothing to hold the national fabric together.



David Swanson.

(He is working to end all war at He is the host of  Talk Nation Radio. He has been a journalist, activist, organizer, educator, and agitator.   He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association,and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)

1) You cannot win a war, and even those who imagine such a thing require that the war be over first, which this one is not. It’s had a name change. The war goes on, a loss for all involved. 

2) The U.S. has a commanding lead as the nation most widely considered the greatest threat to peace approve of the war on Afghanistan, including some in Afghanistan. But the big picture, I suspect, is captured by that poll. And a big part of it, I suspect, is the use of drone wars that have spread out from Afghanistan during the Obama years.

3) No.

4) Quite likely. But the U.S. troops have to leave sometime, and if they waited even longer, the result would be even worse, not mitigated. This has been the prediction of many in Afghanistan for years and years now: the longer this occupation goes on, the greater the resulting catastrophe when it ends. 

Of course, this is not necessary. There are tools that could help Afghanistan, and they cost much less than war. But the Pentagon does not have them. They involve nonviolence, aid, and diplomacy.

5) That is up to the people of Afghanistan and the people of the world who have the power to compel their governments to help and to organize to help directly.



Ruslan Trad.

(Syrian-Bulgarian. Based in Sofia. Founder of Forum for Arab Culture. Freelance Middle East analyst and lecturer. Co-founder of Global Voices in Bulgaria)

1) We can not talk that there is winners by the war in Afghanistan. At least we can not talk that the US is victorious. On the one hand – this war is very expensive for the US, not only financially, but also politically. On the other hand – the war in Afghanistan is not over and we can not talk about this war in the past time. There are many security problems in the country and I think that the US will not withdraw its presence for very long time. The recent events in Pakistan confirming these fears.

The US made a very big mistake – they sponsored the mountain clans. It must support a central government in Kabul, to avoid de-fragmentation, which could lead to further destabilization.

2) The war in Afghanistan has always brought more negative comments and emotions among the public – not only in Afghanistan but also in the US and the Western world. This pessimism and negativity stems from the first moments of the war – this war can not be defended (if any war can be defended). Bush made a mistake – a big mistake. The Taliban regime perhaps could be removed with other methods and factions. Instead, the US attack without evidence that the Taliban was involved in the 9/11 attacks. The society is not convinced of the truthfulness of the actions. Another point is that the war has led to an escalation of tensions, enhancing drug traffic etc… These elements are negative for all except man in power. 

3) Never.

4) This is a complex issue. Unfortunately, the tension and the strengthening of radical groups are a consequence of the invasion of Afghanistan – like in Iraq. At the same time, the reduction of US and allied forces in Afghanistan will lead to the strengthening of the Taliban and other groups. This issue needs to be very careful discussed and must be coordinated with local authorities and the government in Kabul.

5) Unfortunately we can not prophesy. But we can try to say what might happen in the coming months depending on the facts. Afghanistan’s future is not clear. More pessimism than optimism. It is very important that the authorities in Kabul to be supported. It is important to avoid populism. It is important to prevent a new war. The consequences of the war of 2001 are strong – they has shaken the entire Afghan society. NGOs are also important for the development of society – they must have a chance to have a voice in making government decisions. In the near future, Afghanistan has to deal with the Taliban. Taliban must be repelled from regions where they are still strong – the government presence should be established in mountainous areas. Maybe there will be an escalation of clashes and in this case Americans should participate only as a supporting element. 

We must look at the history of Afghanistan – there are many answers in the old books.



Todd Steinmetz.

He is a homeland security and counterterrorism subject matter expert with significant proven knowledge and practical experience in intelligence analysis, counterterrorism, physical security, and disaster preparedness, management, and response. He holds a Master of Science in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies. As an intelligence and security Subject Matter Expert (SME),

1. This depends largely on how one defines the objectives of the campaign, as well as the term “winning.” America’s stated objective when the war began was to dismantle al-Qaeda, as constructed at the time, and deny it a safe haven in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.  They largely achieved these objectives: the Taliban exists, but is no longer in power, much of the original al Qaeda core responsible for 9/11 is either dead or in custody, and I doubt anyone would called Afghanistan “safe”, for anyone. Nevertheless, the broader stabilization and rebuilding effort has clearly failed up to this point, the Taliban are still very much a threat to the government, which is both corrupt and entirely reliant on foreign support for their grip on power. All of that said, when discussing the war in Afghanistan, it is important to recognize that, despite the theatrics, the war is clearly not over; as such, we cannot definitively declare a result.

2. The “world view” according to whom? My guess is that on a macro level, the war in Afghanistan is unpopular overall. That may not mean much though. If one takes an international poll on nearly any American decision, particularly one involving war, the majority abroad will oppose it. That is just the nature of being a world power. When one looks closer, the feelings are no doubt more mixed, largely resting on one’s view toward the U.S., their level  of concern regarding Islamist militancy, and war in general.

3. Yes. al Qaeda killed more people on 9/11 than the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the latter an event that propelled the U.S. into WWII. Although the Taliban said that if they were given proof, they would turn Bin Laden over, they did not promise to pursue al Qaeda more broadly. Although I supported intervention, I would have favored a more restricted approach. To assume the U.S. could successfully install a pro-western (non-Islamist) government in Afghanistan defies pretty much all of human history.

4. Following the massacre at the school in Pakistan, the Afghan Taliban went to great lengths to distance their group from the Pakistani Taliban. As a result, I would not expect to see much coordination or involvement between the two in the near future. However, although the Pakistani government has finally promised to take the gloves off when dealing the Pakistani Taliban, I fully expect many of those who support the Afghan Taliban, both within Pakistan and abroad, to continue to do so. I would also expect many of the elements we currently call al Qaeda to attempt to regain a foothold in the country; the propaganda value alone will be too great to ignore.

5. The prospects for the future of Afghanistan are admittedly bleak. The “nation’s” geography, prevalence of Islamic militancy, and history of warlordism will always plague any effort to install a strong central authority. How bad it gets will largely depend on the level of foreign support the nation can sustain going forward as the government is entirely reliant on that support to survive. Regardless, this support cannot continue forever. As a result, the nation appears condemned to struggle. At this point, the only real long-term choices appear to be a weak and corrupt central authority, tribal based warlordism, or the Taliban.


Catherine Haig.

C. Bonjukian Patten.

(I am a Financial Consultant with my own Bookkeeping/Office Management LLC working in the Greater NYC Area for clients in a cross section of industry)

America never learns from other countries mistakes. Afghanistan was a bust for the British and for the Russians; so what made America think she could go in there and teach these thugs a lesson? One person –  George Bush Jr. He was a cowboy from Connecticut who didn’t listen to anyone including his sidekick Cheney who would have probably loved to send an Atom Bomb into Kandahar to get rid of all these radicals. We lost the war there because we could never win so in fact I believe, 4000 young Americans died for nothing. Just like all wars.

The world views America with a sour eye and I was furious that we ever went to war with this country because it was not Afghanistan nor was it Iraq who bombed America on 9/11. It was Pakistan and they even harbored that murdering “prophet” from hell BIN LADEN.

America needs to get out of Afghanistan and let these people rot and kill each other. We have enough problems here at home to take care of.  We’ll probably arm the Afghan’s against their own terrorists but in my head, if I were POTUS, I would drone Pakistan and take it out of existence forever. Pakistani’s are up to  and India, their neighbor to the north, hates them as well.

Pakistan is like the bully who could. It harbors Taliban and other bullies and they do it openly as you have written. They are also responsible for much of the “human trafficking” that goes on in the world. Anything to exploit others while they lean heavily on their cult religion of Islam.

I don’t really care what happens to Afghanistan in the future. There is nothing to export from there, but hate of the world. Better it be gone to Earth than allowed to exist among us.


Jaime Ortega.

(President of the daily Journalist)

Afghanistan was hardly defined as war. Afghanistan was an unplanned military mission to respond to 9-11 as an immediate need to counter-react to a horrible event, based on paranoia by means of blaming a country classified as a potential threat to US goals. For the US, this was mainly to show global dominance after suffering the backlash of an epic catastrophe difficult to overcome, and hard to digest. After 6 trillion $USD spent, there has been no porpoise for intervention other than to kill Osama Bin Laden, and eliminate Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. For years, prior to 9-11 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ran free in Yemen terrorizing people, even bombarding the US embassy in Abuja Nigeria, showing an increasing desire to attack US targets on its soil. Only one man by the name of John O’Neill, had gathered sufficient intelligence to conclude Al-Qaeda aimed their scope at the twin towers to capitalize a major terrorist attack in late 2001; O’Neill’s case was dismissed, and the FBI alongside with the Clinton’s ignored the facts, only to feed on their pragmatic peaceful geo-political agenda to pursuit personal self-ego.

They denied access to several Intelligence agencies from aggressively interrogating and conducting investigations of High Valuable Targets (HVT’s) staying in the Arabian Peninsula prior to 9-11, fearing what ripple effect might cause with Arab diplomacy. 9-11 could had been prevented with the right leadership! George W. Bush inherited the Clinton‘s fiasco, and instead of attacking the aid coming from Oman, Yemen, UAE or even Saudi Arabia they took on tribal Afghanistan that presents no national interest. The Arabian Peninsula has been the flowing nectar where terrorist seek financial support, and the US Government ignored the real situation and continues to do so to this day, by turning the blame on a few hornets in Afghanistan. Not long after war was declared, the CIA and JSOC skimmed through Afghanistan like wildfire capturing Kabul in a matter of days only to push a few thousand Afghani Jihadist to Pakistan for safe-haven. Then out the shadows of the unknown, without any political background, a man by the name of Hamid Karzai, jumps into spontaneous existence chosen by the Bush administration as a hybrid democratic contender to later be elected prime minister.

After all the great opportunities the US gave the Afghani prime minister, he ended up despising US foreign policy as Vice-President Joe Biden, and Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham noted on their visit a few years back when they met in his office. Hamid’s brother, Walid Karzai was the governor of Kandahar and was accused by US Intel of becoming an uncontrollable corrupt leader. Democracy, ended up turning corrupt. Meanwhile across the Afghani border, for more than a decade without significant distinction prime ministers Pervez Musharraf, Zardai, and Nawaz Sharif doubled played the US for most of the war; They used the Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI) which financed and gave rise to the infamous ‘return of the Taliban’ back in the North Eastern provinces, under guidance of Al-Qaeda. As a key figure Pakistani intelligence alerted terrorist ahead of time, helping them elude US drone strikes. Pitifully not one US general had a concluding strategy into what was that they were doing in Afghanistan, as the main focus was killing insurgents that jumped back and forth from the Pakistani border.

The Pentagon and the executive office were deeply divided in what strategies would work well in Afghanistan. The Obama administration vainly took the warnings given by Dave Petraeus, General Lute, Admiral Michael Mullen, and even Obama’s former National Security adviser Gen James Jones about the dangers of not dealing with Afghanistan. The fact there was a contended division between generals and wannabe politicians, shows the ‘my-way or the highway’ attitude the president had on 2009, having absolutely no clue about military knowledge. Obama mostly guided himself via personal intuition. Looking for a soluble solution, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the blessings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to fire former General David McKiernan on the basis that Afghanistan needed a new facelift. The punch-line of such abrupt change of command became evident when Afghanistan noticed the same troubles it presented before, with the now newly appointed former General Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal as much as McKiernan opted for more troops to regain security of the country with the exact same solution,  so the facelift was nothing but a numb fachade by the Obama administration to remove a former Bush general for an Obama general. McChrystal offered his resignation not long after, for publicly expressing his discontent of the Obama Administration plan to not send troops to Afghanistan. If you look at the individual stories of each general deployed to Afghanistan, it almost look like it was impossible for them to do their job without presidential interruption. The death of General Harold J. Greene was in my opinion a summary of the disastrous campaign Afghanistan has proven.

In my opinion despite the casualties, it wasn’t war, it was literally a circus without a real strategy targeted to the wrong country. And if you ask me, did Osama Bin Laden die in the hands of US special forces? Well, for the most part I don’t believe Iranian sources because they deny the Holocaust, but Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi on 2010 claimed Osama Bin Laden died as a cause of disease which was what the US suspected prior to operation Geronimo because he stopped releasing videos after 2006. But I don’t believe Heydar’s side of the story over the CIA‘s version.

I do believe what Prime Minister Bengazi Bhutto declared on a video conference before her assassination when she publicly stated on live television to reporter David Frost that “Osama Bin Laden died back in 2007 murder by a man called Omar Sheikh.” She wanted democracy, was pro US ally, a straight shooter who had many enemies inside and outside Pakistan that did not like her reforms. I have to respect that. So in my opinion, reading closely up to five different reports of Osama‘s death prior to his ‘official’ death in 2010, has made me question many things. And just because the US claims they killed him, it doesn’t mean anything. Obama has lied more on all his political promises, than Bhutto did on her side of the world before her assassination. For that alone, I question his integrity and reliability. So the jury is still up on that one, and that largely affects the Bush mission in Afghanistan.

1- The term ‘war’ , doesn’t reflect the ‘mission’ in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is considered a unified country — but inside Afghanistan there is no such unification. The Afghan tribes have never had a central government, they are nine significant tribes which include the Pashto, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Nuristani and other smaller tribes…Each marks a different territory inside Afghanistan. These tribes have warred each other in the past. The US was really fighting the Tajik and the Pashto for their links with Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The US was not really taking on all the tribes which would mean the entire Afghani tribal population. Therefore the invasion was more or less a mission not really a war. If it was a war, it was mostly targeted at the Pashto and Tajik tribes, not all tribal Afghanistan. That’s why the US occupation in Afghanistan had a hard time sorting their enemies because not all tribes were against the US invasion.

For a decade the US was partly successful in trying to establish a democratic Afghanistan. Of course what I mean is Kandahar and Kabul which are more or less run by opium trade, and corrupt officials. But there were significant changes made. Tribal clans have unified more since the US intervention, cooperating to benefit from each other. Also the US has given a small gateway to install future western business inside the capital. Other than that, the Taliban has not been defeated, and Al-Qaeda hides in Pakistan ready to regain control after the US full intervention ends.

2- The US never exterminated the Taliban, and the Taliban are no different than Al-Qaeda other than they only posses a regional threat to the US. So the US mission was never accomplished. Also if you ask US veterans deployed to Afghanistan what was their ultimate mission, one thing they all agree on is that it was unclear from start. Don’t ask US generals because they are still pending on Obama’s empty promises.

3- The Twin Towers collapsed because the former Clinton administration lived on a global limbo of diplomatic fairy tales. What happened in 9-11, was caused mainly because the funding came from the Arabian Peninsula. But since bureaucrats entail a global crusade on implementing foreign diplomacy when facing a threat, they rather not sacrifice their relationship with the country directly involved in the issue. No president had the guts to face the Arab lands, because the US holds so much petroleum interest that it doesn’t want to get involved or accept the real trouble they ultimately indirectly created.

I supported going to the Arabian Peninsula to prevent terrorist groups from getting aided by rich undisclosed fundraisers, but not Afghanistan which is nothing more than a regional threat. Afghanistan has training camps for terrorist, so what? So does Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria, Chad… Why not go there?

4 and 5- When the US military packs their bags, Afghanistan is underway for chaos. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will regroup stronger than ever, with more battleground experience just like ISIL in Iraq. I predict some ISIL militants will join. There will be a unification of jihadist cells in Afghanistan, and they will regain possession of the country in no time. The weak central government wont stand a chance. Pakistan will fight a double edge war, trying to contend the rise of insurgents from gaining control of the country; They will also eliminate training camps in Afghanistan, which will only infuriate the tribes involved to also react. I think India might even truce with Pakistan on this one to fight the rise of the new insurgency together.


Franceline Morataya helped with this article.

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