The Last of the American-Made Watersheds in Afghanistan
Across the 13-year span since the attacks of September 11th, Americans can point to quite a few watershed moments in the War on Terror. We saw the initial liberation of Afghanistan. A second front in the War, Iraq, was opened. Eventually, Osama Bin Laden was found and killed. Each point marked a way in which we, a nation attacked, were gaining some peace of mind by de-commissioning Al-Qaeda. By now, many would concur that those responsible for 9/11 have paid for their crimes many times over. The Western coalition could have tweaked the optics to frame a victory around any of these events. As it stands, the Afghan front in the War on Terror has just closed, allowing our enemies to issue a victory statement.
The task of creating a secure Afghanistan now falls on the shoulders of the Afghan Security Force, which U.S. forces will continue to train. These forces will work under the auspices of Ashraf Ghani, inaugurated at the end of September. He succeeded Hamid Karzai, who refused to agree to the terms of Western involvement in Afghanistan after this year. Ghani’s government must contend with a Taliban starved for the power it held in 2001. In their statement, The Taliban stated that Afghan forces would continue to suffer defeats.
With a vast two-front training mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, the question arises: who will get our best people? Will the threat of ISIS in Iraq leave Afghanistan with fewer resources? The Taliban will take their victory to heart. It will be used for recruitment and to terrorize the Afghan people. With what optics we have, America has an opportunity to demonstrate that some measure of victory has been gained. The State of the Union would be an opportunity to make this stand. Afghanistan has experienced a peaceful transition to power, its first since 2001. That watershed moment is reason enough to feel optimistic.