When the United States' launched Operation Enduring Freedom on October 7th, 2001, I was a ten years old living in Stuttgart, Germany. On a day which felt like a lifetime ago and a month after the September 11 attacks, the U.S invasion of Afghanistan exploded into life with crackling gunfire, soldiers staring through night vision goggles from helicopters and reporters frantically reporting the battle to depose the Taleban across various news channels.
The spectacle interested me, but it remained in the corner of my eye as I busied myself with deciding which new PS1 game I should buy and buried myself in books about ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and of-course, the Aztec Empire. By 2002, I vaguely believed - as a little boy who knew next to nothing about the Middle East or Central Asia (with the exception of Alexander the Great's conquest of Persia's vast empire) - that the invasion of Afghanistan and the impending war in Iraq were somehow tied to the September 11 attacks in 2001 which my father and mother had made sure I did not witness.
It has been fourteen years since the United States and United Kingdom made the catastrophic decision to occupy Iraq. It has been twenty-six years since the Second Gulf War (1991) which marked the beginning of the United States bitter stand-off with former ally President Saddam Hussein and it has been sixteen years since NATO entered Afghanistan. As wars erupted in Syria, Libya, Yemen, the conflict with Islamic State (IS) began and Iraq's civil war reignited in the 2010s, Afghanistan, the longest war, carried on, eclipsed by other problems consuming the region and the wider world.
For many in my generation, these wars have become thoroughly normalised. To the average person, 'Afghanistan' is synonymous with instability, terrorism and unimaginable violence, a perpetual conflict fought in distant lands at the edge of world. The world of a typical Afghan man, woman and child is alien to the average person reading about the conflict as they commute to the office or surf the Internet, even as soldiers and civilians alike die in droves. Reexamining the current state of the country and the multigenerational war being fought in Afghanistan, its stark costs and impact it has had on millions of innocent people should become a priority as Prime Minister Theresa May pledges to deploy additional drones, aircraft and, potentially, soldiers to the country.
In a simpler world and simpler times, the September 11 attacks would serve as the primary explanation for why NATO forces remain in Afghanistan. However, the real story is multi-layered, tragic, and complex, shaped by both long-term historical factors and short-term economic and political calculations.
The legacy of the Soviet-Afghan War which started in 1979 has left Afghanistan in turmoil since. American support for the mujahideen through the auspices of Pakistan's intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during this period was critical to the strengthening of the Pakistan and Afghan Taleban, the Haqqani network and Al-Qa'ida. Between 1982 and 1989, the United States supplied $5 billion worth of military assistance to the mujahideen directly and around $5.7 billion to insurgent fighting the Soviet occupation through Pakistan.
According to T.V Paul, 'under a secret agreement with the Saudi Arabians, they agreed to match U.S outlays towards the Afghan efforts dollar for dollar, doubling the amount of aid flowing to the mujahideen.' Pakistan's geostrategic location, as with the supply routes to NATO forces in the current Afghanistan War, were ideal for the disbursal of military hardware and support for rebel groups.
The Cold War campaign, the United States first war in Afghanistan, would have a potent legacy. The CIA's strategy worked and the Soviet occupation ended with the Soviet Union sustaining over 10,000 dead and thousands more wounded, a proved fatal to the Soviet Union which crumbled through internal and external economic and military pressures.
However, the country descended into a vicious civil war in the 1990s, a conflict which continues unabated to this day. Neither of the superpowers had the will to deal with Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet-Afghan war. The Soviet Union had collapsed and the United States' covert operations in Afghanistan were phased down as they emerged victorious in their stand-off with the Russians. The refugee crisis and the appalling conditions of post-conflict Afghanistan were largely forgotten by President Regan's successor, President H.W Bush and his successor President Clinton.
Political fragmentation, economic meltdown, ethnic and sectarian warfare had engulfed Afghanistan in the 1990s. The insurgent group and movement of the Taleban (students) from Islamic madrasahs (seminaries) who were living as refugees in Pakistan vowed to bring peace to Afghanistan, establish law and order, disarm the population, and impose sharia (Islamic law).
The political vacuum left behind by the bloody Afghan Civil War opened the space for the group to seize Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, consolidate their power and drive numerous ethnic and religious groups from the country including religiously tolerant and secular Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews. The brutality of the Taleban's puritanical ideology and doctrine, the torture, disappearances and execution of liberals and educated men and women, forced
This was a grave development which allowed for the transnational terrorist group Al-Qa'ida to strengthen its foothold, recruit foreign fighters and nurture its vision of global jihād. Key leaders of Al-Qa'ida including Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri (the current leader of Al-Qa'ida) and former leaders of Islamic State group - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu Musab al-Zaqarwi - were all present in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Following the September 11 attacks and spearheaded by British and American forces, NATO invaded and occupied Afghanistan in full force to uproot Al-Qa'ida, the new threat to international security.
Sixteen years later and there appears to be no end in sight. The Taleban are resurgent and the United States dropped the most powerful conventional bomb ever used in combat on 13 April 2017 in Achin district in Nangarhar province killing 92 IS fighters operating in Afghanistan.
In separate incidents, 6 U.S soldiers have been killed by suicide bombs and IS insurgents while indiscriminate suicide bombings continue to claim the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians and wound hundreds more. In Helmand province, the Taleban have recaptured crucial towns including Babaji, Marjah, and Musa Qala. Their resurgence has left the international community stranded. 'Prolonged, large-scale battles are rare. Instead, the war is a slow grind of guerrilla attacks, sporadic gun clashes and the occasional push to overrun a population centre. Homemade bombs – the Taliban’s weapon of choice – continue to spread.' However, the resurgence of jihādist extremists and the Taleban, the well worn fact of fighting terrorism and safe-guarding U.S national security are one part of a larger geo-political picture.
Afghanistan - as with Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, and Angola - suffers from the resource curse. The country sits upon one of the richest sources of minerals in the world, valued at nearly $1 trillion. Inevitably, China, the United States, India, and the Russian Federation, who already have some of planet's largest reserves of rare earth elements (REE) will want a slice of the pie as the hunger for technology continues.
Gadolinium for X-ray and MRI scanning systems; yttrium, terbium, europium for television screens, smartphones and computer screens; praseodymium for aircraft engines; cerium for cars catalytic converters; lanthanum for camera, studio lighting and telescope lenses; neodymium for computer hard-drives and loudspeakers; aluminium; silver; zinc; mercury; lithium; copper; iron ore; gold. From military hardware to everyday utilities to energy, REEs are becoming increasingly central to the future of the 21st century's global economy and with Chinese clout on rare earth metals estimated to be 95-97 per cent, the United States will hope to dent their reliance on the Asian monopoly for these important resources.
Far from being at world's end, Afghanistan and Central Asia - the doorway to the Middle East, Eurasia, and South and East Asia - will play a central role in 21st century politics and economics presenting extraordinary opportunities for the international community and particularly countries such as India and China on the cusp of becoming superpowers. These opportunities are not without grave risks to the international security in the short-term and long-term. The ceaseless wars in Afghanistan and its powerful neighbour Pakistan, and the contradictions in NATO's approach to the fused crises have created one of the world's most unstable regions.
The United Kingdom is estimated to have spent £31.1 billion on its fourth war in Afghanistan. As of the writing, the financial costs for the United States stand at staggering $1.07 trillion (with the Iraq War costing more than $2 trillion) as President Trump looks to expand support for the 8,400 soldiers based in Afghanistan by a further 3,900.
These are not massive numbers when compared to President Obama's surge between 2009-2010 when the number of American soldiers in Afghanistan stood at 100,000. “We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that allow terrorists to threaten America,” President Trump stated. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists.” “Our troops will fight to win” the blonde haired eccentric continued. “We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition.”
While his rhetoric was more bullish, the implied strategy differs little from President Obama's approach. Both the Obama and Trump administration's are utilising assassination (de-facto extra-judicial killings), drone warfare and Joint Special Forces Operations (JSOC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct raids and paramilitary operations in Afghanistan, with great autonomy. The military footprints of counter-terrorism have shrunk yet their crudeness remains and branches such as JSOC have expanded
The deadly results were highlighted by The Intercept in the Hindu Kush. Following the leak of The Drone Papers, which detailed the bureaucratic process of approving a drone strikes, investigative journalist Ryan Devereaux analysed how the campaign launched along Afghanistan’s northeastern border with Pakistan, dubbed Operation Haymaker, was revolutionising American warfare.
"Targeted killing" operations were the first order of the day as supposed to building an strong Afghan state. However, the switch of tone by the Obama administration and the successes of campaigns such as Operation Haymaker are highly disputed. While many high-profile Taleban, Islamic State group and Al-Qa'ida leaders were killed, thousands of civilians (coined quite gratuitously as "collateral damage") have been killed and thousands more wounded, mutilated and traumatised by drone warfare. Poor sleep, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, who use anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications or in the worst case commit suicide due to the constant stress of drones buzzing overhead day and night are part of chilling package of counter-terrorism conflicts in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The impact of these campaigns have become a propaganda tool for 'Al-Qa'ida, reportedly enjoys a more pronounced presence' in the Hindu Kush valley than ever before. This is supported by Jeffrey Addict, former legal adviser to Army Special Operations who argued that the drone strikes are "creating more enemies than we're killing or capturing." Alongside the drone wars, the surge of the Obama administration did little to endear the U.S and its allies conducting raids as Andrew J. Bacevich analyses:
"Typically occurring at night - doors bashed in, inhabitants roused and searched, suspects shot or dragged off for interrogation - these raids continued to be deeply unpopular with Afghans. Liquidating insurgents, especially those believed to occupy positions in the Taleban hierarchy, took priority over concerns making friends and influencing people. Estimates showed that the total number of Taleban fighters was actually increasing...civilian causalities jumped, and hundreds of thousands were displaced from their homes. The production of opium, the principal source of Taleban funding flourished. President Obama went on national television to pronounce the Afghan surge a success (which it was not)."
The problem is the United States and its allies have conducted numerous blunders and atrocities while turning a blind-eye to war crimes some of its soldiers and its allies have committed. U.S Marines in the Helmand Province filmed themselves urinating on the dead bodies of three Afghans and series of random killings continued. More notoriously, the series of bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontièrs trauma hospital in Kunduz gained international in October, 2015 was another example of the tragic mismanagement of the Afghanistan War.
"It was absolutely terrifying," said nurse Lajos Zoltan Zecs "I heard someone calling my name. It was one of the Emergency Room nurses. He was covered in blood, with wounds all over his body. What we saw was the hospital destroyed. I cannot describe what was inside. In an Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds. I don't know what I felt, just shock."
42 civilians were killed in the U.S attack and in April, 2016, The Guardian published a report detailing how MSF had requested an independent inquiry into the attack on Kunduz hospital after a US military investigation failed to yield criminal charges. The Pentagon categorically denied that the attack was not a war crime but a tragedy. No doubt, the Russians who were bombing hospitals in Syria had a similar explanation when the West was accusing them of committing war crimes in the skies of Aleppo.
War crimes in Afghanistan are not a new phenomenon, and the standard of the draconian war were set in the first weeks of the 2001 invasion. 2,000 - 3,000 Taleban POWs were massacred by US-backed Afghan military units at Dasht-e-Leili in November, 2001. They were suffocated and shot inside shipping containers set to transferred to US custody at Sheberghan Prison. Wikileaks reports demonstrate that the military, intelligence, and political circles had knowledge of this atrocity with documents leaked 'citing a reminder to recipients that they should "take every opportunity to remind observers that the Taleban were the primary abusers in the country and that any investigations into alleged Afghan military atrocities must be balanced with investigations into Taleban atrocities."
There is good and bad on every side of a war. While the Geneva Convention was violated at Dasht-e-Leili, human rights were disregarded in detention centres that these murdered prisoners were destined for. "The abuse of prisoners by US troops would produce many of the starkest and most memorable visual images of the 9/11 Wars," Burke argued and according to the seasoned journalist for The Guardian, "the precursor to the abuse in American facilities across the world" started with the collapse of the Taleban regime during the 2001 invasion. CIA personnel oversaw the torture of prisoners in prisons such as Bagram and Kandahar, black sites, secret detention centres such as the 'Salt Pit' and the 'Dark Prison', and forward operating bases in Gardez, Kunar, Asadabad and Gershek or more famous sites such as Guantanamo Bay. These abuses in Afghanistan were to set in motion further abuses in a string of prisons across the Middle East and Central Asia in the 2000s.
From turning a blind-eye to massacres of Taleban to torture of prisoners to extra-judicial killings to conducting drone strikes with impunity, such methods are not conducive for a long-term solution, particularly as it alienated the Pashtun, Afghanistan's largest community and the Taleban's key source of recruitment. According to Ahmed Rashid, "ethnically, the Afghan and Pakistani Taleban movements are mostly tribal Pashtuns: Afghanistan has 12 million and Pakistan has another 30 million."
These 42 million Pashtuns, enough to be a nation, were isolated from power and patronage by the unseating of the Taleban, and they loathed the Afghanistan warlords who tore apart the country in the 1990s, the U.S-backed Northern Alliance formed in 2001, many within the Pakistani military and Hamid Karzai's government. Taking away their political power, as Patrick Cockburn mused in his war diaries, poured gasoline on the fire. "If policymakers in Washington and London had been in the business of alienating or enraging Afghans, they could hardly have done a better job. I kept in mind the softly spoken words of a former colonel in the Pakistani military who was a Pashtun and had commanded Pashtun troops; "At the centre of Pastun culture is a hatred of all foreigners" and they do not recognise the 2430 kilometre Durand Line created by the British in 1896 - the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan - nor have they forgotten the colonial era and the failings of the West, historically, to bend Afghanistan to its will.
Pashtunistan is a nightmare for NATO and when their numbers are measured against the less then 20,000 U.S soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan, the odds are heavily stacked against the superpower in its counter-terrorism operations, particularly when 42 per cent of the population despise the West and those who back them. Combine this with the brutality meted out by NATO soldiers on the local population and the hostility between the Pashtun and other ethnic groups such as the Tajiks (27 per cents of Afghans), Hazara (9 per cent), Uzbeks (9 per cent), Aimak (4 per cent), Turkmens (3 per cent) and Baloch (2 per cent) and it is difficult to find positives in the catastrophic adventurism of NATO. The suffering for countless Afghan men, women and children has and continues to be unimaginable and many of conflicts being fought are not for their interests.
According to Devereaux, an intelligence community source said: “It isn’t to say that the drone program is a complete wash and it’s never once succeeded in carrying out its stated purpose. It certainly has. I would like to think that what we were doing was in some way trying to help Afghans, that what we were part of was actually defending the homeland or in any way to the benefit of the American public. There’s no illusion of that that exists in Afghanistan. It hasn’t existed for many years.” All in all, Washington's attitude has not changed in Afghanistan; counter-terrorism has taken precedence over counterinsurgency and effective state-building, and President Trump's recent speech seems to shore up the status quo already in place. Equally, the United States still does not know what do about its relationship with Pakistan.
Ominously, the war in Afghanistan is causing a serious rift in the U.S relationship with its ally Pakistan. A fault-line, frequently understated by the international community (and tied to the stability of Afghanistan), the U.S's contradictory relationship is one of the keys to the stability of its neighbour. The parallels between US-Pakistani relations and those with Saudi Arabia are chilling, if not more dangerous than the alliance with the House of Saud.
Since the injection of U.S military aid into Pakistan's military coffers to boost the mujahideen, the ISI and the Pakistani military have played with jihādi fire at home and abroad. Following a successful military coup in 1977, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq played a central role accelerating the Islamisation of Pakistan. In The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, Zia introduced sharia law and Islamised Pakistan educational system with the support of Saudi Arabia. In the short-term it helped consolidate his power and has powerful long-term repercussions for the country's unity as he bolstered the military's nuclear weapons program.
In exchange for support against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan, the United States did not oppose Zia's nuclear program as he provided support to the mujahideen with American and Saudi funding. This is extraordinary, considering Pakistani students stormed a U.S embassy on 21st November, 1979, torched the building, and killed two Americans and two of its Pakistani staff. This came weeks after Iranian students sparked a hostage crisis on 4th November, 1979 during the Iranian Revolution which has tarnished U.S-Iranian relations ever since. Zia's support for the mujahideen greatly increased his popularity with radical Islamist parties in Pakistan and in-turn increased their power. The U.S embassy burning was spearheaded by Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan who are currently rumoured to have close ties with transnational and local terrorist organisations and insurgent groups including: Al-Qa'ida, the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, and Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi.
After the end of the Soviet-Afghan War, the close relationship between the Taleban, Al-Qa'ida and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence. Mullar Omah, the supreme commander of the Taleban, who died of illness in 2013, was trained by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the 1980s. The ISI introduced Al-Qa'ida to the Taleban and Pakistanis working for ISI were killed in cruise missile strikes ordered by the Clinton administration against Al-Qa'ida training camps built and funded by their ISI contractors in the 1990s.
In the Middle East, the United States' has closed its eyes to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States' complex relationship sponsorship of dozens of jihādist networks including IS, Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In Central Asia, they pursue Al-Qa'ida and the Taleban as Pakistan maintains complex relationships with Lashkar e-taiba (responsible for 2008 Mumbai attacks), the Haqqani network, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Afghan and Pakistan Taleban who they see as assets in their long-standing conflict with India who the military believe offer them strategic depth in their next war with their rivals.
Despite tactical support for the U.S invasion in 2001 (even Pakistan did not dare cross Washington in the wake of the September 11 attacks), the ISI and Pakistani military refused to completely eradicate Al-Qa'ida and the Taleban. The Osama Bin Laden affair has only increased tensions between the US and Pakistan. On March 1, 2011, Osama Bin Laden was assassinated by Navy Seal Team 6 in Abbottabad, 120 miles inside Pakistan's sovereign borders and just down the road from the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul.
The killing sparked controversy for several reasons. Firstly, it was seen by many Pakistanis as a violation of their country's sovereignty. This was repeated in, November, 2011 when cross-border attack on a Pakistani military outpost by US and NATO forces killed 23 soldiers and wounding 13 others and led to a suspension of NATO supply lines supporting the war effort in Afghanistan. Drone strikes, torture and JSOC operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as with the United States' forgotten war in Yemen, have fuelled anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and the wider region. MERI found in a June 2011 Pew poll that 75 percent of Pakistanis held an unfavorable view of the United States; 70 percent believed the US is an enemy rather than a friend; and 70 percent saw the US as a possible military threat to Pakistan.
Secondly, it put Pakistan in the spotlight as it appeared that Pakistani intelligence had provided Bin Laden with a security network, contradicting their pledge to the U.S to hunt down Al-Qa'ida operatives. That the world's most wanted man dwelled in the heartlands of Pakistan also brought many questions to light. Did the ISI give Bin Laden sanctuary? Was Pakistan a reliable partner in the 'Global War on Terror'? Did the ISI coordinate with the CIA on the assassination of Bin Laden or were they left in the dark by U.S intelligence? Given their history with Islamic extremists, it seems unlikely that Pakistani intelligence did not know Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan, particularly after they were forced into the country following the battle of Tora Bora.
'According to Seymour Hersh, the reporter renowned for breaking the My Lai and Abu Ghraib stories, this is a fiction constructed by the Obama administration. Hersh maintains that Bin Laden was given up by a rogue Pakistani official in exchange for the multimillion-dollar reward that was on offer; that he had been held prisoner by the Pakistanis since 2006; that Pakistan was then complicit in the navy Seal operation; and that Bin Laden was shot dead in cold blood.' In the more conventional narrative, the U.S tracked down Al-Qa'ida's renowned leader through careful planned tracking and surveillance of his courier Abu Ahmed.
Thirdly, it amplified the crisis intensifying in Pakistan. The contradictory relationship has ignited a war in the Federal Administered Tribal Areas which left 1.5 million people displaced and has made the region a haven for foreign fighters and jihādists. As it supports the Afghan Taleban, it faces an strengthening insurgency spearheaded by the Pakistan Taleban, who wish to turn over the military and establish an Islamic State. As David Ignatius has the US president’s chief of staff describe Pakistan: “two hundred million pissed-off people, plus 100 nuclear weapons. Scary shit.”
The cost has been staggering for Pakistan, not just Afghanistan. The War in Waziristan has killed between 35,600–65,000 military personnel, militants, and civilians and terrorist attacks have surged across Pakistan killing hundreds more each year. Persecution of religious minorities is relentless, with Christians, Punjabis, Hindus, members of the Ahmadi sect of Islam, and Pakistan’s Shia being targeted and forced to flee. This chaos is wedded to the military's suppression of separatists in Baluchistan where human rights have been violated with impunity as the Pakistani military massacres, tortures and disappears insurgent and activist alike, paranoid that Indian and American seek the break-up of Pakistan into warring sub-states. In reality, the ISI has lost control of many of its ultra-violent proxies and like a wildfire it has spread across the country. The military themselves have been targeted by jihadists, many factions which they had trained.
'There have been attacks on national leaders, including multiple attempts to kill Pervez Musharraf and the murder of Benazir Bhutto. The Pakistani army’s general headquarters were attacked, as were ISI offices in Peshawar and Lahore. Other prominent targets have included the air force base in Sargodha, the army ordnance factories at Wah, the Mehran naval base in Karachi and the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, as well as the eleventh-century Data Darbar shrine in Lahore and many other shrines, mosques and markets.'
Donald Trump's recent views on Pakistan's foreign policy in Afghanistan have catalysed a venomous response. In the same speech outlining his strategy in the country, the president had strong words arguing that Pakistan was not shifting its weight in counter-terrorism operations. "We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time, they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting ... that must change immediately. (Washington) can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations."
This sparked protests in Karachi, Pakistan, with tear gas being fired at protestors furious at President Trump's accusations. President Trump is certainly correct, however it is hardly a new revelation that Pakistan has been using jihādists as proxies in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Nonetheless, President Trump's visit to Pakistan has been postponed until further notice until the atmosphere across the country settles. With the Pakistani military being selective in the way it chooses to pursue extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the cycle of appalling violence, crime and war will continue in FATA region and successive U.S administration's will continue to have a justification for its presence in the mountains of the war-torn country.
So long as Afghanistan remains hostage to Pakistan's proxy wars, dominated by superpowers and saddled by its geostrategic curse, NATO's efforts to pacify Afghanistan into a Western-friendly state at the cross-roads of the Silk Roads of Central Asia are doomed to fail. The death toll of over 3000 coalition soldiers and the wounding of thousands more, scarred mentally and physically by their experiences, alongside millions of civilians who have had their lives destroyed across Afghanistan is a testimony to the fallacy of the wars in Central and Southern Asia. The historical record (not to mention a failure to learn from it) is grim. The British have lost all four of their wars in Afghanistan and the United States has, thus far, failed to tie up its two wars in the country, the first in 1979-1989, and the second which continues with no end in sight. Former Bush official, retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, grimly states that the worse is yet to come in an interview with Abby Martin.
"The Afghanistan War has morphed. It is not about Al-Qa'ida anymore. It is not about the Taleban anymore. It is about China. It is about Russia. It is about Pakistan. It is about Iran. It is about Syria. It is about Iraq. It is ultimately about oil, water and energy. The American presence in Afghanistan will not go away for another half-century."
The United States' war in Afghanistan is a battle it cannot win, and its consequences will be graver than those wrought by Vietnam for Americans, Afghans and the wider region. It becomes a disturbing thought that the current Afghanistan War and the wars to come in the torn country involving NATO could rage till the 2060s or 2070s. It becomes unimaginable that the internal conflicts could continue past a U.S withdrawal and become another Hundred Years War. However, as the end of the Soviet's occupation in the 1980s has illustrated so tragically, the supply of conflicts in Afghanistan appear to be inexhaustible with or without Western involvement. The longest war rolls on and on.
Matthew C.K Williams