While the international community’s prospects in Afghanistan have never been bleaker, the Taliban has been experiencing a renaissance that has gained momentum since 2005. At the end of 2001, uprooted from its strongholds and with its critical mass shattered, it was viewed as a spent force. It was naively assumed by the US and its allies that the factors which propelled the Taliban to prominence in Afghanistan would become moribund in parallel to its expulsion from the country. The logic ran that as ordinary Afghans became aware of the superiority of a western democratic model, and the benefits of that system flowed down to every corner of the country, then the Taliban’s rule would be consigned to the margins of Afghan history.
However, as seven years of missed opportunity have rolled by, the Taliban has rooted itself across increasing swathes of Afghan territory. According to research undertaken by ICOS throughout 2008, the Taliban now has a permanent presence in 72% of the country.
And remember, all through those years of missed opportunity, the GOP and their cheerleaders have been telling us how we should be clapping louder and dipping our fingers in purple dye to celebrate the Great Leader’s Victory.
Coalition forces, including many brave Afghans, have brought America, Afghanistan and the world its first victory in the war on terror," the president said. "Afghanistan is no longer a terrorist factory sending thousands of killers into the world.
What has happened in Afghanistan is nothing short of a miracle. Who is responsible for it? The New York Times gives the major credit to “the Afghan people” with their “courage and commitment.” Courage and commitment there was, but that courage and commitment was curiously imperceptible until this administration conceived a radical war plan, executed it brilliantly, liberated the country and created from scratch the structures of democracy.
On this fourth anniversary we are in a bizarre situation: The war is being won — in Afghanistan, Iraq, the broader Middle East and many other places where America has changed the conditions on the ground in its favor. But at home the war about the war is being lost.
Afghanistan is a destitute country and there are huge logistical and political challenges to fighting there. But it doesn’t sound like we’re losing.