In 2001, the United States (US) launched a campaign in Afghanistan to combat terrorism and extremism, which was led by Al-Qaeda and its alliance. The Americans started with the slogans of reforming the Afghan political system, preserve human rights, the spread of good governance, the fight against narcotics, and addressing other basic issues in Afghanistan.
Since then, nearly 18 years have passed, but none of these changes has been made, instead the situation in Afghanistan has worsened in all walks of life. The security situation has become much more fragile than before. If in the past only the Taliban were active in insecure activities, today there are several other terrorist groups, including ISIS-K (Daesh), in Afghanistan. These groups have taken over large part of Afghanistan and have increased the terror and insecurity in the country.
In the past eighteen years, the United States has not made any progress so far in its fight against these groups, and its outcome in Afghanistan is increasing insecurity, increasing corruption, increasing narcotics and the thousands of plagues that have been inflicted on the nation.
American experts and intellectuals believe that in recent years, the United States has not only failed to make new achievements in Afghanistan, it has also lost its achievements over the past few years. According to Michael Coleman’s views, “The Americans Forces (in 2001) destroyed the Taliban regime in a short time; the Taliban did not resist Americans; the world thought the story was the same, but this bitter reality soon became apparent that the start of the battle was easy, but its ending is very much difficult. America had to learn this bitter lesson in the Vietnam War, and then when it took part in the war in Iraq. Today in Afghanistan, Taliban control more territories than ever before, and it is after the United States spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of troops in the country… It’s not just the security sector that the US has failed, the United States did not have tangible impact on corruption in the economy and drug trafficking as well.”
The current situation in Afghanistan represents a strategic defeat for the United States. A number of US Senators and political and military experts in Afghanistan or abroad believe that the United States has failed in the war in Afghanistan. This article briefly examines the reasons of failures of US and NATO in Afghanistan
Escape from the War: US and its allies, initially, entered Afghanistan with the mentality that the United States ended the Taliban’s control and resolved military and security issues. The goal of the international community in Afghanistan was to contribute to the reconstruction and development of the country in order to manoeuvre and gain international credibility.
This theory was fuelled when most EU countries initially chose safe areas for deployment to Afghanistan. Even the EU issued a decree requesting not to send European troops to high-risk areas in Afghanistan.
With the deteriorating security situation in southern and eastern Afghanistan, serious disagreements between the United States and Britain and other NATO and ISAF states emerged that there was no military presence in insecure areas.
Despite these differences, Germany and Italy did not end up sending troops to insecure areas of Afghanistan, but with the spread of unrest across Afghanistan, countries that escaped unrest were ultimately captured in an insecurity swamp.
Slaughter of Non-combatants: Another factor contributing to the failure of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan was the killing of Afghan civilians by foreign forces. Bombardment of Afghan villages, including the bombing of several wedding ceremonies in Uruzgan, Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, as well as the shooting of women and children in various parts of Afghanistan, including the Panjwai district of Kandahar, caused the public opinion in Afghanistan against the forces Excite foreigners. Afghan dissatisfaction with foreign forces led the insurgents to penetrate the people and operate easily.
Unawareness of Afghan Culture and Practices: Arbitrary inspections and entry into residential homes, lack of respect for Afghan customs and traditions, arbitrary arrests, private and secret prisons, lack of respect for Afghan sovereignty, the entry of foreign troops into holy sites of Afghans all added up to the mistakes made over the past years by US and NATO troops.
These cases led to widespread dissatisfaction among the people against the foreign forces; and insurgent and terrorist groups, using this discontent, were able to infiltrate and recruit people.
Failure in the Fight Against Drugs: One of the excuses the United States and its allies brought to Afghanistan was to fight the cultivation and production of drugs in the country. The suppression of drug trafficking by foreign forces in Afghanistan after the fight against terrorism was the main prerequisite for the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan in 2001.
In the very first days of the foreign military mission in Afghanistan, the fight against the cultivation and production of drugs was left to the military. Now that it has eighteen years of age, the cultivation and production of narcotics in Afghanistan have not diminished; on the contrary, they have increased.
Failure to Promote Good Governance: One of the other pretexts of the United States and its allies was to create a good government in Afghanistan. The West once claimed the reorganization of political structures in Afghanistan, which swept through the black Taliban era, and favored change in all aspects of politics and society. Nevertheless, such promises were soon forgotten and the efforts to promote good governance remained limited to conferences and meetings.
Now, after eighteen years of international community’s efforts to establish and consolidate a modern national government and the development of democratic institutions in Afghanistan, it seems that the process of establishing modern, incomplete and, in some cases, unsuccessful structures still seem to be failing.
Considering the above factors that played a decisive role in the war in Afghanistan, there is no doubt that the United States and NATO have suffered a defeat in the country that was so easily defeated in the early days of fight. The main reason behind the defeat is that US did not really want to win the war honestly. It has kept on prolonging it so as to prolong its presence in the region, instead, helping Afghanistan establish strong and stable government and socio-political order.