It is no secret that the American war in Afghanistan has been a complete failure. After 18 years the Taliban are still around. So, the question remains, why did America fail in Afghanistan: There are five reasons as to why America failed in Afghanistan:
First, America had no long – term strategy for Afghanistan. The stated goal was always to get rid of Al – Qaeda and their Taliban harborers. But when the question was asked of what happens to Afghanistan the day after the Taliban and Al – Qaeda are defeated, the Pentagon could not come up with a plan. One of the primary rules of war is that whenever a nation emerges victorious over another nation in war, and the government of the defeated nation is ousted, it is up to the victorious nation, in this case the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the Northern Alliance, to make a long – term investment in to the future of the defeated nation to insure that the conditions that led to the war in the first place never happen again.
This brings up the second point: America never spend any money on a Marshall Plan to help rebuild Afghanistan and bring Afghanistan into the modern era. Rather than investing in the social and financial well-being of the Afghani people, the Pentagon spend money on increased security forces, something that never helped the plight of the Afghani people. While many people complain that the United States has spent too much money on nation building, the truth is that the United States has not been spending enough money nation building. What Harry Truman did to Western Europe and Japan following the Second World War was nation building, and it worked in its objectives. After all, the key to everlasting peace is not more armed security, but rather, more financial security.
The third point is that America did not change its tactics following the fall of Tora Bora. Following the fall of Tora Bora, the war against Al – Qaeda went from being a full-scale ground invasion to a counter-insurgency war. And the number one rule of counter-insurgency warfare is that foreign armies cannot win a war against guerrilla insurgents. (Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam by John Nagl) Following the fall of Tora Bora, the United States should have immediately withdrawn its combat forces, withdrawn its occupation forces, and only left behind a small special operations unit to raid remote Al – Qaeda bases.
The fourth point is that America did not understand the complicated political nature of Afghanistan. Even Charlie Wilson, the man that Ronald Reagan recruited to help undermine the Soviet War in Afghanistan admitted that he did not know anything about Afghanistan. (Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, by Steve Coll) Such knowledge of Afghanistan’s various tribes, the uniting of the tribes under Afghanistan’s founder, Ahmed Shah Durani, the role of the Durani dynasty in uniting the country, and how the tribes have interacted since, is instrumental in setting up a new constitution for Afghanistan and preventing the Taliban and Al – Qaeda from ever returning again.
The fifth and final point is that America did not factor in Pakistan’ role in its creation of the Taliban and decided to keep the special relationship with Pakistan afloat, rather than re-examining the past history of United States – Pakistan relations. The failure to do so ultimately resulted in Pakistan continuing to meddle in Afghani affairs in order to try to prevent Afghanistan from turning into an Indian colony. And because of not changing its relationship with Pakistan, and by not thinking in the long – term, policymakers in Washington failed to connect the dots between the War on Terror and the conflict in Kashmir, which Afghanistan has ultimately become a proxy of, with America caught in the middle.
Unfortunately, it is too late for America to correct these failures. The best thing for America to do would be to leave, having accomplished its mission of removing Al – Qaeda, and leave Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.