In 2001, Task Force Dagger boldly and courageously invaded Afghanistan, toppling the Taliban in record time by empowering their Afghani allies, eradicating a totalitarian and harsh regime. This victory was a testament to the efforts of the men of the Special Forces Regiment, the operatives of the CIA's Special Activities Division, and the brave Air Force Controllers that rained death onto the heads of their foes. The relationships forged in this brief but intense crucible seemed to forge a real hope for a free and democratic Afghanistan.
Few could have predicted that some 16 years later, we would be looking down the barrel of another re-hashed attempt to civilize Afghanistan. A country fraught with cronyism and graft, overseen by a government of thieves and outlaws, "protected" by a military and police that are little more than roving marauders in a barren moonscape, and inhabited by fiercely clannish peoples with memories of an elephant.
Or, could they? "The graveyard of nations" hasn't proved to be easy to civilize for anyone in history. Did American exceptionalism draw us to overstay our welcome, or is U.S. Intervention the only thing preventing this powder keg from exploding?
Our friends at Task And Purpose have written an excellent piece on how Americans are perceived by the people of Afghanistan. It supports the research that now indicates drawn out campaigns of counter-insurgency are rarely effective and are coupled with poor outcomes for not just the dead, but the living as well. Rather than taking another trip through the looking glass, it might be time to develop a new strategy in this "forever war".