Foreign Policy

Afghanistan conflict: When Enduring Freedom is turned asunder

afghanistan-conflict-military-operation-security.siby Phillip Butler

In December of 2001, the mightiest military force the world has ever known launched ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ in Afghanistan. Today, the US and NATO military mission in that distant country officially comes to a close, but the foe remains unvanquished.

I am writing this piece to caution the leaders of free nations, before you leap into more asymmetrical warfare abroad, please examine the outcomes of Afghanistan first. Let me begin by pointing out that just before America entered her longest war, then-President George W. Bush was quoted as saying:

“We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.”

Thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, 13 years, and a loss of America’s reputation and prestige in the world. All that brought about nothing positive whatsoever. Not only have the Taliban and Al-Qaeda not been destroyed, the global threat of conflict is even more vehement today. Many experts fear the long-range effects of America’s wars will be perpetual attacks of retribution. We are witnessing, even now, the beginnings of this.

As NATO’s International Security Assistance Force Joint Command lowers its flags, American and coalition forces engage ISIL across Syria and Iraq, and brazen Taliban attacks certify all our worst fears. Al-Qaeda has restarted training camps within Afghanistan. The Taliban has launched more than a dozen attacks targeting foreigners in just the last few weeks. These and other such events punctuate the reality that we accomplished absolutely nothing positive in Afghanistan. The saddest part of this reality for many is the brave men and women who fought and died there; they and their families only have their honor to show for their ultimate sacrifices. However, the military failures in Afghanistan will later be seen as secondary to what America and her allies have lost as free nations.
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