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Foreign troops forcibly breaking into an Afghan home to conduct a house search, with a woman and child in the background.

Opposition to the eight-year Afghanistan war stems from numerous factors - these include the view that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was illegal under international law and constituted an unjustified aggression, the view that the continued military presence constitutes a foreign military occupation, the view that the war does little to prevent terrorism but increases its likelihood, and views on the involvement of geo-political and corporate interests. Also giving rise to oppposition to the war are the high level of civilian casualties, the cost to taxpayers, the decades of war inflicted on Afghans, the length of the war to date, and the estimates by many that it could last for many more decades.

Contents

Disputed legality of the U.S. invasion

Opponents of the war have long claimed that the attack on Afghanistan was illegal under international law, constituted unjustified aggression and would lead to the deaths of many civilians through the bombing campaign and by preventing humanitarian aid workers from bringing food into the country. By one estimate, around 5,000 Afghan civilians had been killed within just the first three months of the U.S. invasion.[1][2]

More broadly, the invasion of Afghanistan appeared to opponents to be a stepping stone to the 2003 Iraq War, increasing the geo-political reach of the United States.

"The UN Charter is a treaty ratified by the United States and thus part of US law. Under the charter, a country can use armed force against another country only in self-defense or when the Security Council approves. Neither of those conditions was met before the United States invaded Afghanistan. The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. Nineteen men - 15 from Saudi Arabia - did, and there was no imminent threat that Afghanistan would attack the US or another UN member country. The council did not authorize the United States or any other country to use military force against Afghanistan. The US war in Afghanistan is illegal."

 

Involvement in an Afghan civil war

Opposition also stems from the view that U.S.-led military forces is taking sides in an ongoing civil war in Afghanistan between ethnic groups, backing minority Tajiks and Uzbeks against the Pashtun majority.[5][6][7]

Several weeks into a massive U.S.-led military offensive against the Taliban in four southern Afghan provinces in 2006, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke against the killing of so many Afghan citizens:[8]

"It is not acceptable for us that in all this fighting, Afghans are dying. In the last three to four weeks, 500 to 600 Afghans were killed. [Even] if they are Taliban, they are sons of this land."

 
— Afghan President Hamid Karzai on June 22, 2006[9]

According to journalist Ahmed Rashid, the noted author of several books on Afghanistan, the Taliban are in the fabric of that country, and defeating the Taliban would involve killing "large numbers of Pashtuns," an ethnic group with a long history in southeastern Afghanistan.[10]

Afghan civilian opposition to the invasion

One of the best-known women's organization in Afghanistan, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), condemned the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, stating that "America ... has launched a vast aggression on our country".

They accused the U.S. and its allies of "paying the least attention to the fate of democracy in Afghanistan" by first having supported for years a "Jehadis-fostering, Osama-fostering and Taliban-fostering" policy before the 2001 U.S. invasion, only to now be "sharpening the dagger of the Northern Alliance" warlords and druglords that were key allies of the U.S. in its invasion.'[9][11]

"Our people have been caught in the claws of the monster of a vast war and destruction."

"The continuation of US attacks and the increase in the number of innocent civilian victims not only gives an excuse to the Taliban, but also will cause the empowering of the fundamentalist forces in the region and even in the world."

 
— RAWA, Afghan women fighting for human rights and for social justice in Afghanistan, October 11, 2001[9]

Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq also opposed U.S. military action in his country. In a November 2, 2001 article "US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban" published just days before he was killed, he argued that any military action against the Taliban should be carried out by Afghans, not Americans.[7][12]

Afghan civilian casualties

A very large factor in opposition to the war in Afghanistan are the deaths of innocent Afghan civilians, with thousands currently being killed each year as a result of the war.[13]

The eight-year-long war in Afghanistan has caused the deaths of thousands of Afghan civilians directly from insurgent and foreign military action, as well as the deaths of possibly tens of thousands of Afghan civilians indirectly as a consequence of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war.

Coalition military casualties

The continued and mounting death tolls of foreign military forces in the eight-year war are another factor involved in the opposition to the war in Afghanistan, with hundreds currently dying per year. As of February 2010, over 1,650 foreign soldiers have been killed in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.[14][15]

Coalition fatalities per month since the war began in October 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom".

International public opinion

International public opinion is largely opposed to the war in Afghanistan. Polls around the world - including a 47-nation global survey in 2007, a 24-nation survey in 2008, and both a 25-nation survey and a 13-nation survey in 2009 - have repeatedly shown considerable opposition to the presence of U.S. and NATO military troops in Afghanistan.

While support for the war in Afghanistan has been strongest in the United States and Israel,[16][17] recent polls have shown growing American opposition to the U.S. war, including majority opposition:

  • September 2009 - United States: Growing American opposition to the war in Afghanistan reached an all-time high, while support for the U.S. war fell to an all-time low in September. A record majority 58% of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, while only 39% support the U.S. war. The CNN - Opinion Research poll was conducted September 11-13, 2009.[18]
  • September 2009 - United States: "Americans are broadly skeptical of President Obama's contention that the war in Afghanistan is necessary for the war against terrorism to be a success, and few see an increase in troops as the right thing to do." The plurality 42% of Americans want a reduction of the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Only 26% of Americans think more troops should be sent to Afghanistan. 51% of Americans think the war is not worth fighting, while 46% think it is. Fewer than half of Americans think winning the war in Afghanistan is necessary to win the "war on terrorism", with about as many saying it is not. The Washington Post - ABC News poll was conducted September 10-12, 2009.[19][20]

International protests against the war

The ongoing eight-year war in Afghanistan has repeatedly been the subject of large protests around the world, with the first large-scale demonstrations beginning in the days leading up to the war's official launch on October 7, 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom".

Foreign military occupation

"If the populations of Afghanistan and the NATO countries were able to vote on this military occupation it could not continue indefinitely, and peace would finally be within reach."

 
Malalai Joya, Member of the Afghan Parliament, August 19, 2009[21]

In January 2009, an independent analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. found that "the majority of Afghans are now deeply opposed to the foreign troops on their soil" and that the presence of a foreign occupier in Afghanistan is the single most important factor behind the Afghan insurgency.[22][23][6]

The Taliban and the many other insurgent groups in Afghanistan also perceive the eight-year foreign military presence as an occupation. Taliban spokesman Yousef Ahmadi told journalist Anand Gopal, "We are fighting to free our country from foreign domination." He added, "Even the Americans once waged an insurgency to free their country."[24] [25]

On October 8, 2009, in a New York Times interview initiated by the White House, a senior White House official described the Afghan Taliban as an indigenous Afghan group that want to win back territory within their own country. The comment came a day after the Taliban reasserted that their aim is "the obtainment of independence".[26]

Rejection of the terrorism argument

A Washington Post - ABC News poll in September 2009 reported that "Americans are broadly skeptical of President Obama's contention that the war in Afghanistan is necessary for the war against terrorism to be a success." Fewer than half of Americans think winning the war in Afghanistan is necessary to win the "war on terrorism", with about as many saying that it is not.[19]

"Military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States."

 
— Rep. Barbara Lee, September 14, 2001[27]

A poll at the end of August 2009 found that three-quarters of Britons do not think fighting in Afghanistan makes British people, or British streets, any safer from terrorism as Gordon Brown and senior ministers had repeatedly been telling them in order to justify the war.[28]

About a week and a half later, British member of parliament Eric Joyce, a former army major, resigned as aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth, saying "I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets."

On October 8, 2009, in a New York Times interview initiated by the White House, a senior White House official acknowledged that there are fewer than 100 al-Qaida fighters left in Afghanistan and that the Afghan Taliban, an indigenous Afghan group seeking to win back territory within their own country, do not themselves pose a direct security threat to the United States. He said: "When the two are aligned, it's mainly on the tactical front."[26]

The comments were made a day after the Taliban asserted that it did not pose a direct threat to the United States. The Taliban stated that their aim was "obtainment of independence and establishment of an Islamic system" in their country, and not to attack the West. "We did not have any agenda to harm other countries, including Europe, nor do we have such agenda today."[26]

In January 2009, an independent analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. dismissed the argument that a withdrawal of the foreign military presence would allow al-Qaeda to operate in Afghanistan, pointing out that, first, the U.S.-led military forces do not control the periphery of the Afghan territory anyway, and, second, that targeted operations with the agreement of the Kabul government could be used instead.[23]

Others have also made the point that al-Qaeda operates in many other countries and simply does not need Afghanistan. The New York Times reported in November 2008 that a 2004 classified order identified at least 15 to 20 other countries outside of Afghanistan and Iraq where al-Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sanctuary. The countries listed in the secret order signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld with the approval of U.S. President George W. Bush included Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states. Since 2004, the United States has repeatedly used the broad, secret authority granted by the order to conduct targeted operations against al-Qaeda and other militants in many countries outside of Afghanistan, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Kenya, the Philippines, and elsewhere.[29][30][31][32]

"If U.S. forces are there to prevent reestablishment of al-Qaeda bases - evidently there are none now - must there be nation-building invasions of Somalia, Yemen and other sovereignty vacuums?"

 
— Conservative pundit George Will, September 1, 2009[33]

In an influential September 2009 article entitled "Time to Get Out of Afghanistan", conservative commentator George Will similarly argued that "forces should be substantially reduced," and "America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units" in targeted operations.[33]

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and a number of other senior administration officials also favor moving toward a more scaled-back strategy that focuses on targeted, surgical operations against senior insurgent figures using drones and small special operations teams.[34][35][36][37]

Others have further made the point that al-Qaeda does not need a safe haven at all, and that terrorists can and have learned their craft in a Hamburg apartment, a home in Colorado, a flight school in Florida, or myriad other places around the world.[38][39][6]

As noted military historian Gwynne Dyer pointed out, "The 9/11 attacks were not planned in Afghanistan. They were planned by al Qaeda operatives in Germany and Florida, and it is very unlikely that the Taleban government of Afghanistan had advance warning of them."[39]

In his September 10, 2009 letter of resignation as the State Department's Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, in protest against the American war in Afghanistan, Matthew Hoh, a former U.S. Marine captain, stated:

"I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our young men and women in Afghanistan. If honest, our stated strategy of securing Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc."

"The September 11th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied to traditional geographic or political boundaries."

 
— former U.S. Marine captain and State Department official Matthew Hoh, September 10, 2009[40]

In a September 16, 2009 Washington Post article, Paul R. Pillar, deputy chief of the counterterrorist center at the CIA from 1997 to 1999 and director of graduate studies at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program, questioned the assumption that al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups need a haven at all, pointing out that "terrorists' organizations have become more network-like, not beholden to any one headquarters."[6][41]

In a September 30, 2009 open letter to President Obama, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk stated: "Since terrorist attacks can be mounted from many places, the only effective long-term defense against them is to deal with their causes."[42]

When asked by Bob Woodward why al-Qaeda, which is comparatively safe in its current sanctuaries in Pakistan, would even want to return to Afghanistan, the National Security Adviser of the United States, General James L. Jones, replied, "That's a good question. . . . This is certainly one of the questions that we will be discussing. This is one of the questions, for example, that one could come back at with General McChrystal."[43]

Creating and training insurgents

The January 2009 analysis by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. found that "the majority of Afghans are now deeply opposed to the foreign troops on their soil," and concluded that the presence of foreign military forces in Afghanistan is the single most important factor in mobilizing support and increasing recruiting for the Taliban.[44][23]

"The mere presence of foreign soldiers fighting a war in Afghanistan is probably the single most important factor in the resurgence of the Taliban."

 
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, January 2009[45]

According to the Carnegie report, the insurgency against the foreign military forces would abate with the removal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, and "the momentum of the Taliban would slow or stop altogether, because without a foreign occupier the Jihadist and nationalist feelings of the population would be much more difficult to mobilize."[23]

The Pew Research Center reported in February 2009: "As has been the case since 2006, more Americans believe decreasing -- rather than increasing -- the U.S. military presence abroad is the more effective way to reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on the United States. Half of Americans (50%) now believe that decreasing the U.S. military presence overseas would be the more effective policy, while just 31% say an increased presence would be more effective."[46]

"The bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul."

 
— former U.S. Marine captain and State Department official Matthew Hoh, September 10, 2009[40]

In his September 10, 2009 letter resigning over the American war in Afghanistan, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency, Matthew Hoh, the State Department's Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province, wrote: "The Pashtun insurgency, which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashtun people as a continued and sustained assault, going back centuries, on Pashtun land, culture, traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and police, provide an occupation force against which the insurgency is justified."[47][40][40][48]

As with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, he advised that the U.S. reduce its combat forces in Afghanistan, if not remove them entirely.[48][49]

In a statement made to New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, a group of former intelligence officials and other experts decided to go public with their concerns and warned:[50]

"Our policy makers do not understand that the very presence of our forces in the Pashtun areas is the problem."

"The more troops we put in, the greater the opposition. We do not mitigate the opposition by increasing troop levels, but rather we increase the opposition and prove to the Pashtuns that the Taliban are correct."

"The basic ignorance by our leadership is going to cause the deaths of many fine American troops with no positive outcome."

 
— statement by a group of former U.S. intelligence officials and other experts, September 2009[50]

The group included Howard Hart, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan who helped organize the anti-Soviet insurgency in the 1980s; David Miller, a former ambassador and National Security Council official; William J. Olson, a counterinsurgency scholar at the National Defense University; and another CIA veteran who spent 12 years in the region, was station chief in Kabul at the time the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, and later headed the CIA's Counterterrorism Center.[50]

In the 2009 documentary "Rethink Afghanistan", several other former U.S. intelligence officials and experts on Afghanistan also contend that the war in Afghanistan does nothing to protect the safety of American people, but, on the contrary, only threatens the safety and security of Americans, both in the U.S. and abroad:[51]

"Both wars have made the Middle East and the world much more dangerous for Americans and for any American presence overseas. It's creating much greater hostility towards the U.S. and creating a whole lot more people that would be happy to kill Americans or join in some kind of terrorist operation."

 
Graham Fuller, former CIA station chief in Kabul, in "Rethink Afghanistan"[51]

In his September 30, 2009 open letter to President Obama, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk argued that trying to defeat the Taliban militarily is not in America's interest, saying: "The harder we try, the more likely terrorism will be to increase and spread."[42]

Insurgent detention and recruitment facilities

In September 2009, a four-page supplement by U.S. General Stanley McChrystal to his 66-page report conceded that because of a shortage of interrogation personnel at U.S. military's Bagram Theater Internment Facility, hundreds of Afghans were being held in detention for long periods without charge, resulting in the Afghan prison system having become a "sanctuary and base" for militants, providing them fertile ground to radicalize and recruit new insurgents.[52]

According to a series of New York Times reports in 2008 and 2009, the U.S. Bagram detention facility, "a crude place where most prisoners are fenced into large metal pens," was packed with about 630 prisoners, with the rising numbers of detainees "driven primarily by the deepening war in Afghanistan". The articles reported that Bagram prisoners, held under harsh conditions described as worse than at Guantanamo, had no access to lawyers, and that some detainees had been held there without charge for more than five years. Harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were widely used, and the Red Cross reported cruel treatement in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Two Afghan detainees died there in December 2002 after being beaten by American soldiers and hung by their arms from the ceiling of isolation cells.[53][54][55]

In 2007, the U.S. military began transferring many detainees from the U.S. Bagram Theater detention camp and from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp to the Afghan-run Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul. By May 2008, American officials conceded that the Afghan prison could not absorb all the Afghans being detained by the United States military. According to Human Rights First, the United States had transferred 250 former Guantánamo detainees into the Pul-e-Charkhi prison outside Kabul since 2007, often to the shock of their waiting families. By July 2009, with Pul-e-Charkhi prison holding some 360 prisoners transferred into the Afghan prison system from the U.S. detention facilities at Bagram and Guantanamo, American officials were expressing fears that the Afghan prison system would be overwhelmed by waves of new detainees captured in the American-led military offensives being conducted by thousands of Marines in southern Afghanistan.[53][54][55][56][57]

According to McChrystal's supplementary report:[52]

  • More than 2,500 out of 14,500 prisoners in Afghanistan's prison system were linked to militant groups.
  • "There are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan."
  • "Hardened, committed Islamists are indiscriminately mixed with petty criminals and sex offenders, and they are using the opportunity to radicalise and indoctrinate them."
  • A shortage of interrogation personnel at the U.S. Bagram detention facility results in indefinite detentions.
  • "As a result, hundreds are held without charge or without a defined way ahead. This allows the enemy to radicalise them far beyond their pre-capture orientation."

Even with the transfer of many Bagram detainees into the Afghan prison system since 2007, the New York Times reported in January 2010 that more than 700 people detained by the American military continued to be imprisoned indefinitely and without legal recourse at the notorious prison at U.S. Bagram Air Base.[58]

"The war in Afghanistan is a breeding program for terrorists."

 
Jürgen Todenhöfer, former German politician and prominent critic of the war, July 2009[59]

Incubating and disseminating bomb-making expertise

Suicide bomb attacks were virtually unheard of in Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion in 2001, and both the use of suicide attacks and the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) as roadside bombs were relatively uncommon in Afghanistan until mid-2005.[60][61][62][63]

According to a UN report on suicide attacks in Afghanistan: "During the ravages of the Soviet occupation, the warlords' struggle for domination, and even during the Taliban period, Afghans never undertook such operations." Despite thirty years of warfare, suicide attacks were not carried out by any Afghans until after mid-2003, and only came into prominence in mid-2005 when they began to escalate drastically.[63]

Number of suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan 2002-2008.
(Source: UNAMA. Figures include 17 in 2006, 68 in 2007, and 93 in 2008 that were not detonated.)[63][64] [65]

The tactic is seen to have been imported from the U.S. occupation of Iraq following the American invasion in March of 2003. According to experts, Afghan militants saw how successful it was and began copying it, and there has also been evidence that foreign jihadis brought the tactics they learned in that war with them to Afghanistan. Former CIA officer Art Keller stated in 2007: "People are going there to learn the tactics, and then come back."[66][67][68]

According to CNN's Peter Bergen:[67]

"The Bush administration hoped that Iraq would draw terrorists to one place, making them easier to kill, the so-called flypaper theory. But the opposite happened. Iraq has strengthened al Qaeda. It's now a training ground for terrorists from around the world."

In writing about suicide attacks in the war in Afghanistan, security analyst Anthony Cordesman noted that in 2008: "Their lethality and skill increased and so did estimates of the number of suicide bombers in training."[69]

Number of IED and roadside bombs in Afghanistan 2002-2008.
(Sources: 2002-2007 CSIS, 2008 USA Today. Including bombs discovered before detonation.)[69][70]

The use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan also began to drastically increase in 2005. Military and defense analyst John Pike noted, "The insurgency in Afghanistan has been very carefully studying the lessons learned by the insurgents in Iraq."[71]

A July 2009 New York Times article entitled "Afghan Insurgents Expand Their Use of Increasingly Sophisticated Homemade Bombs" reported that according to American military officers, IED's in Afghanistan were becoming more common and more sophisticated with each week.[72]

In September 2009, the Washington Times reported that the Taliban had learned to build simpler, cheaper, deadlier anti-personnel IED bombs made of hard-to-detect non-metal components, such as carbon harvested from everyday batteries and plastic, according to a confidential U.S. military report. The Pentagon report, which spoke of a Taliban IED research-and-development program, described the latest IEDs to appear in the Afghan war as "less costly", "smaller, lighter, more quickly constructed", "small and easily transported and emplaced", "easily camouflaged", "extremely difficult to detect", "lethal".[73]

In January 2010, The Independent reported military experts saying that insurgents in Afghanistan had developed a new generation of deadly 'undetectable' bombs made out of wood, with no metal or electronic parts. Chris Hunter, a former bomb disposal expert, described them as "mass produced" and "being wheeled out on an industrial level. You see them everywhere." According to one US group, the number of IEDs used in Afghanistan had surged by 400% since 2007, matched by a 400% increase in the number of troops killed by them, and an even higher 700% increase in the number that have been wounded by them.[74]

In February 2009, news magazine The Week wrote:

"A particularly troubling feature of the IED phenomenon is the ease with which the technology is refined and spread. Bombers have been known to record their attacks, then post the images to the Internet, along with instructions on how to make the devices. The techniques are constantly being shared and refined by hundreds of insurgent groups."

"Security experts say there are now up to 300 IED attacks a month in other countries around the world. The powerful remote-controlled IED that killed 13 people in Algeria last June was probably based on designs originally from Iraq, and many think it is only a matter of time before these devices appear in large numbers in the West."

 
IEDs: The poor man’s artillery, The Week, February 2009[75]

Geo-political and corporate interests

"The current war in Afghanistan is not about democracy, women's rights, education or nation building. Al-Qaida, the other excuse, barely exists. Its handful of members long ago decamped to Pakistan. The war really is about oil pipeline routes and western domination of the energy-rich Caspian Basin."

 
Eric Margolis, defence analyst and journalist, August 2009[5]

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan often has at its core the view that the U.S. invasion, eight-year occupation, and military build-up in Afghanistan are being conducted for geo-political purposes and U.S. corporate energy interests.[5][76][77][78][79]

U.S. energy interests

"Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from central Asia to the Arabian sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan."

 
— U.S. Energy Information Administration, September 2001[76]

In an article entitled "America's Pipe Dream" published October 23, 2001, British investigative journalist George Monbiot outlined the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan as primarily being a bid to control oil and gas resources and distribution in central Asia.[76]

In 1995, U.S. energy giant Unocal, partnered with Saudi oil company, Delta Oil Co. Ltd, started negotiating to build pipelines through Afghanistan to transport oil and gas from Turkmenistan to ports in Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, a multi-billion dollar scheme that would require a stable regime in Afghanistan to guarantee safe passage of the energy commodities. The U.S.-Saudi-led consortium, called CentGas, also included firms from Pakistan, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Korea.[76][80][81]

Shortly after the Taliban gained control of Kabul in September 1996, The Telegraph reported:

"Oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan."

 
— The Telegraph, September 1996[76]

According to former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency military analyst Julie Sirrs who went to Afghanistan in October 1998 and met with Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance: "Massoud told me he had proof that Unocal had provided money that helped the Taliban take Kabul" in September 1996.[81]

In the years that followed, Unocal frequently wooed Taliban leaders, hosting them as VIP guests at its headquarters in Houston, Texas, and in meetings with U.S. government officials in Washington, D.C. According to a December 10, 2001 article in the Boston Herald: "Before the pipeline deal could go through, Unocal needed the U.S. to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government in Afghanistan. To that end, company representatives arranged high-level meetings between the Taliban and State Department officials in Washington, D.C." On at least one occasion, in December 1997, Unocal oil executives and representatives, including Zalmay M. Khalilzad, a former assistant undersecretary of defense under Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in the first Bush administration, wined and dined the Taliban and took them on a shopping spree.[76][80][78][82][83][84]

"The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that."

 
— A U.S. diplomat in 1997 to journalist and author Ahmed Rashid[76][85][79]

On November 28, 1997, Unocal's vice-president of international relations, John J. Maresca, made a presentation at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar in Instanbul. In previous roles, Maresca had been U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy, chief of staff to two NATO Secretaries General, State Department officer in charge of NATO political affairs, U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Special Envoy to open US relations with the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. In a session named "The Caucasus Region: competing stakes, conflicts and co-operation", Maresca spoke of the U.S. State Department's assessment of Caspian oil reserves, underlined the importance of ensuring transport of those reserves to market, identified important markets, gave the participants information on existing and planned pipelines, and discussed various pipeline routes.[86][87][88][89]

Two months later, in February 1998, Maresca also addressed U.S. Congress representatives in a Hearing on U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics, congratulating them for "focusing on Central Asia oil and gas reserves and the role they play in shaping U.S. policy" and telling them that growing demand for energy in Asia coupled with U.S. sanctions against Iran made Afghanistan "the only other possible route" available to them for Caspian oil. Maresca again made clear the Unocal pipeline project's need for a "recognized government" that would have "the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company". According to author-journalist Richard W. Behan in an article entitled "The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War", Unocal's vice-president had essentially asked politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted.[76][78][90]

"I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."

 
Dick Cheney, in 1998 as CEO of energy-military-industrial corporation Halliburton[76]

In July 2001, with Cheney back in the Whitehouse as Vice-President and Khalilzad appointed to President Bush's National Security Council, three American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officials to inform them of planned U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan in October.[78][91]

In August 2001, U.S. State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban, at their last pipeline negotiation just five weeks before 9/11, "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."[78][92][93]

On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan officially began with a bombing campaign that Noam Chomsky of MIT described as "weeks of carpet bombing and resort to virtually every available device short of nuclear weapons ("daisy cutters," cluster bombs. etc.)"

On October 10, 2001, though the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had barely begun, an article in the English-language Pakistani Frontier Post reported that U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain had already informed the Pakistani Oil Minister that, "in view of recent geopolitical developments", the negotiations for a pipeline through Afghanistan would be revived.[94]

On December 5, 2001, just 8 weeks into the U.S. invasion, Hamid Karzai was named Chairman of the Interim Administration of Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, Karzai had played a "role funneling covert American aid" to mujahedeen insurgents in Afghanistan in the eighties, beginning a long relationship with U.S. policy makers in Washington.[95][96]

A top contact for the CIA in the eighties, he had also later testified before Congress, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, periodically met former CIA officer, Senate aide, and future State Department official Christina Rocca, and addressed a RAND seminar on Afghanistan in 2000 at Khalilzad's invitation. A U.S. State Department official referred to Karzai's close ties with the U.S.: "To us, he is still Hamid, a man we've dealt with for some time."[95][96][92]

In addition to these ties, Karzai was reported to have also been an adviser to Unocal.[94][96][92][97][98][99][100][101][102][103]

On January 1, 2002, nine days after Hamid Karzai was sworn into office, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, who had been a key Unocal consultant on the pipeline project and special liason between Unocal and the Taliban government in the pipeline negotiations, was named as U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan by U.S. President George W. Bush, while continuing his role in Bush's National Security Council.[104][92]

On February 8, 2002, just 6 weeks after being sworn into office as Chairman of the Interim Administration, Karzai announced that he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had discussed the proposed Central Asian gas pipeline project and agreed to work on its development.[105]

"If one looks at the map of the big American bases created for the war, one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean."

 
Uri Avnery, former member of the Israeli Knesset, February 2002 article in Israeli daily Ma'ariv[103][106]

On May 30, 2002, just four months later, Hamid Karzai, still as chairman of Afghanistan's interim administration, signed a deal with the presidents of Pakistan and Turkmenistan to construct a multi-billion dollar 1,500-km Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline from Turkmenistan's Dauletabad gas fields to the Pakistani port city of Gwadar.[107]

"One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south."

 
— U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, September 2007[108]

Pipeline path 'clearing and holding' forces

In a June 2008 article in the Toronto Sun entitled "These wars are about oil, not democracy", defence analyst and journalist Eric Margolis remarked on the U.S. military bases just happening to be adjacent to the planned pipeline route, and wrote: "Work will begin on the TAPI once Taliban forces are cleared from the pipeline route by U.S., Canadian and NATO forces. As American analyst Kevin Phillips writes, the U.S. military and its allies have become an "energy protection force.""[109]

In a September 2009 article, author-journalist Richard W. Behan wrote: "Superimposing the base-locations over maps of the pipelines, the Bush Administration’s design is unmistakable. U.S. bases in Afghanistan proper — there are now 15 altogether — precisely straddle the prospective pipeline routes."

War in Afghanistan as a demonstration of U.S. military power

In a November 2, 2001 article entitled "US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban", anti-Taliban Afghan leader Abdul Haq again presented the case he had repeatedly been making against U.S. military action in his country, but seemed resigned that the U.S. was not going to listen:[7][12]

"The US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world. They don't care about the suffering of the Afghans or how many people we will lose. And we don't like that. Because Afghans are now being made to suffer for these Arab fanatics, but we all know who brought these Arabs to Afghanistan in the 1980s, armed them and gave them a base. It was the Americans and the CIA. And the Americans who did this all got medals and good careers, while all these years Afghans suffered from these Arabs and their allies. Now, when America is attacked, instead of punishing the Americans who did this, it punishes the Afghans."

 
Abdul Haq, anti-Taliban Pashtun leader, October-November 2001, days before he was killed[12]

Thriving opium production since the invasion

Thriving opium poppy cultivation since the U.S. invasion in October 2001 (in hectares).

Opium production in Afghanistan has thrived since the U.S. invasion and overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data, there was more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past five growing seasons (2004-2008), than in any one year during the Taliban five-year rule (1996-2001).[110][111]

UNODC reported in its November 2008 report that the majority 58% of opium poppy-growing farmers in Afghanistan began to cultivate opium after the 2001 U.S. invasion.[111]

In July 2000, the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, argued that opium was against Islam and banned its cultivation. The Taliban edict resulted in a drastic 90% reduction in opium cultivation between 2000 and 2001.[110]

Even compared to 2000 - the year before the Taliban opium ban of 2000-2001 saw effect - the overall opium-related income in the Afghan economy had risen nearly fourfold by 2008, reflecting higher export volumes as well as higher prices.[111]

Financial cost of the war to taxpayers and Western economies

By 2008, the U.S. military was spending nearly $100 million a day in Afghanistan.[112][113]

By one estimate in September 2009, the United States, which has approximately two-thirds of the foreign troops in Afghanistan, had already spent some $250 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.[114]

By October or November 2009, estimates by the Congressional Research Service placed the cost that could be accounted for at $300 billion spent or committed.[115]

"The Congressional Research Service estimates that we have now spent or committed $300 billion, and that is only the money for which we can account. Some will say it is twice that, for this war, like the war in Iraq, was funded off-budget with no transparency."

"$300 billion. That is about $101 million per day for 2,950 days. Or, to put out another average, that is $3,947 per family of four that every American family has paid to date."

"To continue this war at its current level and to escalate it beyond its current scope is a trillion dollar question. Are those who would so cavalierly make this commitment willing to demand another $3,947.36 from every American family of four to pay for it?"

"Thousands have protested federal spending to rebuild America's schools, roads, bridges and critical infrastructure, but are they willing to do the same when their taxes are being spent to rebuild Kabul?"

 
— U.S. Congress Rep. Eric Massa, November 4, 2009[115]

In September 2009, the Christian Science Monitor reported that in the upcoming budget year, the U.S. war in Afghanistan would, for the first time, cost American taxpayers more than the U.S. war in Iraq. By the end of September 2010, the total military budget costs for both wars will have exceeded $1 trillion.[116]

By October 2009, news reports indicated U.S. costs of fighting the war in Afghanistan at $165 million every 24 hours.[117]

Officially, the United States' military costs for the war in Afghanistan were budgeted at $65 billion for fiscal 2010, a figure amounting to $178 million a day.[116]

However the true cost will probably be closer to $85 billion, or more, according to Gordon Adams, a defense expert at American University’s School of International Service in Washington. That figure would amount to about $233 million a day.

Factoring in veteran health and other benefits, replenishment of military hardware, a higher price for oil, and the interest on debt incurred by the wars, Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University economist, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University Nobel Prize economist, estimated a "moderate-realistic" bill for the two wars of $5 trillion to U.S. taxpayers.[116]

In September 2009, foreign policy veteran William R. Polk suggested that the real cost of the war in Afghanistan to the U.S. economy would end up being over $3 trillion.[42]

In September 2009, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimated that a speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, with a sharp reduction in troops over three years, could save taxpayers $1.1 trillion from the budget in the next decade.[118]

"We've been there eight years already, and how many more years are we supposed to be there? How many more Americans are supposed to die? How many more tens and tens of billions of dollars are we supposed to be spending at a time when we have a record-breaking deficit?"

 
— U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, September 2009[119][120]

In December 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surge of yet another thirty thousand U.S. troops into Afghanistan, increasing the buildup of the U.S. military in Afghanistan by another 40-45% and adding further red ink to the United States' $1.4 trillion deficit spending and national debt of over $12 trillion. The administration estimated the cost for this surge at $30 billion (presumably for an initial 18 month period). However, the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Pentagon's budget, U.S. Congress Rep. John Murtha, estimated that the surge would cost at least $40 billion - $10 billion more than the administration's estimate. The congressman also called for a surtax to finance the war, saying the U.S. risks the sort of inflation seen in the Vietnam War era.[121][122]

In the United Kingdom, a comprehensive analysis by The Independent in July 2009, revealed that the cost of the war to British taxpayers had already exceeded £12 billion ($US 20 billion) - enough to pay for "23 new hospitals, 60,000 new teachers or 77,000 new nurses". A Ministry of Defence source indicated that the department feared the Afghan campaign was adding at least £250 million a year ($US 405 million) to their spending on veteran welfare services. In addition to these military costs, British taxpayer money is also being spent on Afghanistan by the Department of International Development (DfID), which will have spent close to £1 billion ($US 1.6 billion) between 2001 and 2012, and the Foreign Office (FCO) that had already spent £230 million ($US 375 million) since 2006 alone.[123]

"We are spending ourselves into oblivion."

 
— a U.S. commander in Afghanistan, 2009[40]

The overall cost of the war, combined for the over-40 nations that have at various points contributed to the eight-year American-led war, and in additional spending by the UN, International Red Cross, and numerous other government-funded NGOs, since the 2001 U.S. invasion is not known.

Length of the war

"We are mortgaging our Nation’s economy on a war, which, even with increased commitment, will remain a draw for years to come. Success and victory, whatever they may be, will be realized not in years, after billions more spent, but in decades and generations."

 
— former U.S. Marine captain and State Department official Matthew Hoh, September 10, 2009[40]

The war in Afghanistan, launched October 7, 2001 as U.S. "Operation Enduring Freedom", has now stretched over 8 years and entered into a ninth year on October 7, 2009 - equal to the time the United States was involved in World War I, World War II and the Korean War combined.[27]

By February 2010, the war in Afghanistan will have matched and surpassed the length of official U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, 8 years and 5 months.[124]

According to a study by the RAND Corporation, an American think tank working for the U.S. military, counter-insurgency campaigns won by governments have averaged 14 years.[125]

In a July 2009 interview, when asked when German troops would withdraw from Afghanistan, former German Defence Minister Peter Struck replied: "I'm afraid it could take another 10 years."[59]

In December 2009, a week after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a surge of another thirty thousand U.S. military troops into Afghanistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, speaking at a news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, stated that the Afghan government being supported would not be able to secure the country on its own "for another 15 to 20 years", suggesting a U.S.-led military presence until at least 2024, if not 2030.[126][127][128][129]

At the end of December 2009, following a visit to Afghanistan as part of an eight-member congressional delegation, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins warned that U.S. military assessments describe a "generational commitment" requiring at least two decades and that might not work, and he stated that President Obama needed to be more forthright with the American people about the length of time involved and the prospects.[130]

"The military assessments say this is a generational commitment. I will tell you this whole 18 months of drawing down troops is not going to happen. The military assessments are very clear: In order to stabilize Afghanistan, you essentially have to rebuild it. You can't accomplish that in 18 months, five years, or in a decade, and you'll be lucky to accomplish that in 20 years. Gen. McChrystal told me he will know in 18 months if this will work."

 
— U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins, December 2009[130]

A January 2009 U.S. Defense Department report assessing progress in Afghanistan concluded that building a fully competent and independent Afghan government would be a lengthy process that would last, "at a minimum, decades."[131]

The head of the British Army and former ISAF commander, General Sir David Richards, stated on August 8, 2009 that he believed Britain could still be militarily involved in Afghanistan in "30 to 40 years" time, raising the possibility of a military presence in Afghanistan until the year 2050.[132]

Asked how long U.S. combat forces would be needed in Afghanistan, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates replied it was "unpredictable" and "perhaps a few years". However, over the longer term, Gates said that even if security were achieved, progress in building Afghanistan's economy and government institutions would remain "a decades-long enterprise", and that the United States was "committed to that side of the equation for an indefinite period of time."[133]

American defense analyst John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org envisions a near-endless scenario in Afghanistan: "It's not going to end. And it may get worse before it gets better ... it's going to last for decades."[134]

"More and more people feel that it is a never ending story, that this war has been dragging on now for longer than the second world war, that we see too little results and we really don't know why we are there."

 
— Patrick Keller, foreign and security policy analyst, September 2009[135]

Comparison to the length of the Soviet war in Afghanistan

After 7 years and 7 months of war in Afghanistan, Mikhail Gorbachev announced on July 20, 1987 the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, saying that the Soviet Union wanted to henceforth see an independent, sovereign Afghanistan with a non-aligned government. The complete withdrawal of Soviet troops took place over roughly one year and a half, ending on February 15, 1989, with the Soviet war in Afghanistan having lasted approximately 9 years and 2 months in its entirety.[136][137]

By December 2010, the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which officially began October 7, 2001, will have lasted longer than the entire Soviet campaign in Afghanistan.[137][47]

Decades of war imposed on Afghans

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a former CIA director, stated in his 1996 memoirs "From the Shadows" that American intelligence services began to covertly aid opposing Islamic militant factions in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was the U.S. National Security Adviser in 1979, likewise stated:[138]

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979.

But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention."

 
— U.S. geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, January 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur[138]

The deliberate covert U.S. intervention to destabilize Afghanistan and use Islamic militants, extremists, and the people of Afghanistan as tools in a proxy war for U.S. geo-political purposes resulted in three decades of nearly continuous war and armed conflict in Afghanistan. Brzezinski continued:[138]

"That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap. ... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government ..."

 
— U.S. geostrategist Zbigniew Brzezinski, January 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur[138]

According to journalist Ahmed Rashid, between 1980 and 1992 the U.S. funnelled "four to five billion dollars" to fund Islamic militants in Afghanistan, mostly in the form of "lethal modern weaponry". In an August 10, 2000 interview, he stated: "The U.S. was the main provider of arms to the mujahideen in the 1980s ... The whole issue of terrorism and the presence of foreign mercenaries in Afghanistan is a result of American and Pakistani encouragement of radical Muslims in the 1980s to come to Afghanistan from all over the world and fight a jihad."[139]

"The US committed some four to five billion dollars between 1980 and 1992 in aid to the Mujaheddin. .... Most of this aid was in the form of lethal modern weaponry .... The aid was distributed by Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence (ISI) ....

Prior to the war the Islamicists barely had a base in Afghan society, but with money and arms from the CIA pipeline and support from Pakistan, they built one and wielded tremendous clout."

 
— "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia" by Ahmed Rashid[140]

In the decades of brutal war and conflict that followed, by 2000:

  • Afghanistan lost a third of its population.[141]
  • Some 1.5 million Afghans were killed as a direct result of the conflict.[141]
  • 5 million Afghans fled as refugees to Iran and Pakistan, and others became exiles elsewhere.[141]
  • A large part of the Afghan population was internally displaced.[141]
  • An estimated 50% of Afghan villages were destroyed.[142]
  • The country was contaminated with as many as 10 million land mines and countless unexploded ordnance (shells, rockets, bombs, bullets).[143][144]

In June 2009, in his Cairo speech addressing the Muslim world entitled "A New Beginning", U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged "a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations."[145]

July 2009 marked three decades since the signing of the U.S. presidential directive that National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski had fully expected would "induce a Soviet military intervention." In August 2009, the head of the British Army and former ISAF commander, General Sir David Richards, stated that he believed Britain could still be militarily involved in Afghanistan for another 3 or 4 decades.[132]

Comparisons to the Soviet war in Afghanistan

"There is barely an important piece of land in Afghanistan that has not been occupied by one of our soldiers at some time or another. Nevertheless, much of the territory stays in the hands of the terrorists. We control the provincial centres, but we cannot maintain political control over the territory that we seize."

 
— Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, commander of Soviet armed forces, November 13, 1986[137]

In November 1986, with 109,000 troops in Afghanistan and the war soon heading into an 8th year, the military counter-insurgency was not working. Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, commander of Soviet armed forces, was summoned to report on the situation to the USSR’s politburo in the Kremlin. His strong assessment was that the army needed more resources, and he warned that without more men and equipment "this war will continue for a very long time". By the peak of the Soviet deployment in 1987, Moscow had 140,000 troops in Afghanistan.[137][146]

In September 2009, with 108,000 to 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan under U.S. command and the war soon heading into a 9th year, the military counter-insurgency was not working. A 66-page report by U.S. general Stanley McChrystal to the Whitehouse administration on the situation in Afghanistan, leaked in advance of an anticipated troop request, gave his strong assessment that more troops and resources were needed. McChrystal warned: "Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it. Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure." According to reports shortly after the leak, McChrystal was privately requesting between 30,000 and 40,000 more troops.[147][33][148][149][150][151][152]

"It is sometimes frightening to see how similar NATO military operations are to Soviet ones in the 1980s."

 
— Carnegie Endowment for International Peace policy brief, January 2009[23]

McChrystal, the U.S. general, at the same time called for a new strategy of pulling troops from sparsely populated rural areas in order to concentrate on defending higher population urban areas.[153][154] Tom Coghlan of The Times observed: "Students of Afghan history may note that this strategic conclusion was one previously reached by the Soviets, who also switched to a strategy of ceding remote areas and only defending population centres and the country's main arteries in 1986."[155]

On July 20, 1987, the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan was announced, and within a little over a year and a half the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was completed.[146]

Comparisons to the Vietnam War

The war in Afghanistan, now entering into a ninth year, has also been increasingly compared to the Vietnam War, and increasingly characterized as a quagmire.[156][157][158]

By February 2010, the war in Afghanistan will have matched and surpassed the length of official U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, 8 years and 5 months, as the longest-running U.S. war ever.[124]

"What I found being in Afghanistan was all too familiar of problems not only in Iraq, but in Vietnam years ago. We are fighting a war a half a century later that we lost for similar reasons a half a century earlier."

 
Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2009[156]

According to retired Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, a Vietnam veteran who became chief of staff to Colin Powell, Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, the parallels between the two conflicts are strong, especially in terms of corrupt governments in Saigon then and Kabul now: "I see the same thing developing in Kabul. I see a corrupt leader. I see a leader who has as a vice president one of the most corrupt men, Fahim, in Afghanistan, probably."

In September 2009, an article by the New York Time's Frank Rich noted a new aspect in the strong parallels between the wars, the eerie similarity between the political maneuvers in 2009 and a half-century before, when John F. Kennedy was weighing whether to send combat troops to Vietnam. "Military leaders lobbied for their new mission by planting leaks in the press." The Secretaries of Defense (Robert McNamara) and State, as well as the Joint Chief of Staff and the president's special military adviser all supported sending combat troops, while Kennedy himself had reservations.[158][159]

Dr. Jeffrey Record of the U.S. Air War College noted that Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, much like Barack Obama in 2009, also faced a pivotal decision on whether to commit more troops to the war in Vietnam or find a way to ramp it down. Johnson, concerned with having to use up political capital defending a de-escalation, made the fateful decision to escalate - the choice would come back to haunt him badly.[158]

"The Vietnam analogy remains haunting. On Mr. Obama’s nightstand is Gordon Goldstein's acclaimed biography of McGeorge Bundy, "Lessons in Disaster," which describes the flawed decision-making of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Vietnam quagmire."

 
— Albert R. Hunt, New York Times, October 4, 2009[160]

Growing U.S. opposition to the war in Afghanistan

In March 2009, a bipartisan group of 14 members of the United States House of Representatives - Walter Jones, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Neil Abercrombie, Roscoe Bartlett, Steve Kagen, Ed Whitfield, Lynn Woolsey, Bob Filner, Jim McGovern, Howard Coble, John Conyers, Marcy Kaptur, John Duncan, and Michael Michaud - signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider his decision to send 17,000 more U.S. troops, and to "resist pressure to escalate further".[161][162][163]

Their letter to Obama argued that the military escalation could be counterproductive to creating stability in Afghanistan and could harm U.S. security, noting that a recent Carnegie Endowment study had concluded that "The only meaningful way to halt the insurgency's momentum is to start withdrawing troops. The presence of foreign troops is the most important element driving the resurgence of the Taliban."[161]

In September and October 2009, with U.S. military leaders requesting yet more troops - and polls showing the majority of American people opposed to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and to sending any more troops, more members of the United States House of Representatives and other leaders began to speak for and manifest their constituents' opposition.[18][19][164][37]

On September 10, 2009, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi stated: ""I don't think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan in the country or in the Congress.".[165]

Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated: "There's a significant number of people in the country, and I don't know the exact percentages, that have questions about deepening our military involvement in Afghanistan."'[165]

Senator Russell D. Feingold, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged discussion of a timeline for ending American involvement in Afghanistan.[165]

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee stated: "I do not believe we can build a democratic state in Afghanistan. I believe it will remain a tribal entity," adding that she wanted the U.S. military mission to "be time-limited".[166]

Senator Richard Durbin, assistant majority leader in the Senate, said: "Sending additional troops would not be the right thing to do."[166]

In September 2009, Senator John F. Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a veteran and protestor of the Vietnam War, warned of repeating the mistakes of Vietnam and said that the United States needed to have an exit strategy.[167][168][169][170]

Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star Army general, expressed skepticism that more troops would guarantee success.[167]

On October 4, 2009, Representative Barbara Lee with 21 other members of the United States House of Representatives introduced a bill, H.R. 3699, to prohibit any funding to increase the U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan beyond its current level.[171]

"History tells us that there will not be a military-first solution to the situation in Afghanistan. Open-ended military intervention in Afghanistan is not in our national security interest and will only continue to give resonance to insurgent recruiters painting pictures of foreign occupation to a new generation."

 
— Representative Barbara Lee, October 4, 2009[171]

On October 8, 2009, key Democrats on Capitol Hill warned that a decision by President Obama to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan could trigger a revolt within his own party, possibly including an attempt to cut off funds for the controversial military buildup.[164]

Representative David R. Obey, chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee stated: "I believe we need to more narrowly focus our efforts and have a much more achievable and targeted policy in that region. Otherwise we run the risk of repeating the mistakes we made in Vietnam and the Russians made in Afghanistan."[164]

Representative John P. Murtha, also on the House Appropriations Committee and an influential voice on military affairs, stated: "The public is worn out by war. The troops, no matter what the military says, are exhausted."[164]

Senator Russell D. Feingold, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, stated that if Obama decides to send more troops, the House of Representatives should contest it.

Senator Feingold, who favors a timetable for withdrawal and opposes McChrystal's troop surge, said in an interview that his constituents were weary of war and were in "almost unanimous agreement" that "we've stayed there a long time and we need to figure out appropriately what we can accomplish."[164]

On October 15, 2009, Senator Robert Byrd, in an emotional speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, suggested that the eight-year old U.S. war in Afghanistan had become lost in some broader scheme of nation-building. Referring to "mission creep" in Afghanistan, he said:[172]

"I am compelled to ask: does it really, really take 100,000 U.S. troops to find Osama bin Laden? If al Qaida has moved to Pakistan, what will these troops in Afghanistan add to the effort to defeat al Qaida?"

 
— Senator Robert Byrd, October 15, 2009 speech to the U.S. Senate[172]

On October 27, 2009, the Washington Post reported that a U.S. official in Afghanistan had resigned in protest over the U.S. war, in a move that sent ripples all the way to the White House. Matthew Hoh, a State Department Foreign Service officer serving as the Senior Civilian Representative in Zabul Province submitted his resignation on September 10, with a letter outlining the reasons for which he felt he had to resign over the war, writing, "I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S. casualties or expenditures or resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war."[48][40]

On November 4, 2009, U.S. Congress Rep. Eric Massa spoke before the U.S. House of Congress to say enough is enough in Afghanistan. He stated: "Today is the 2,950th day of this war. It has cost us $300 billion, $3,947 per American family. Enough is enough. It is time to bring our troops home. ... the deployment of additional troops in Afghanistan and the continuation of this conflict is both not in the interest of our Nation, and, in fact, is on par with a potential error the size of our initial invasion in Iraq."[173]

In November 2009, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Lt.-Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the retired army general who commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2005-2007, warned President Obama against committing tens of thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan. His dramatic intervention into the debate on a troop surge reportedly infruriated U.S. General McChrystal, the commander of all foreign military forces in Afghanistan who has been requesting another 40,000 troops..[174]

Concerns that the war could derail Obama's presidency

Many that have hopes in President Obama's presidency but oppose the war in Afghanistan are concerned that the war could derail plans for his presidency the way the Vietnam War ruined the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.[158][42][175][176][160][177][178][179][180][181]

"As long as we are there, the war will continue, with disastrous consequences for all the things you want to do and we Americans need you to do."

 

Troop reductions and removals

  • On November 5, 2007, South Korea's Defense Ministry announced that its 210-troop military deployment would be recalled despite the fact that Washington had asked Seoul to extend their deployment which was scheduled to expire at the end of the year. South Korea's 150 military engineers and 60 military medics were to leave Afghanistan on December 14, 2007. The recall followed South Korea's promise to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2007 to secure the August 2007 release of 23 South Korean missionaries that had been kidnapped because of their country's involvement in the U.S.-led military efforts. The South Korean military deployment had been in Afghanistan approximately 5 years and 9 months starting in February 2002.[182][183]
  • In November 2007, Swiss Defence Minister Samuel Schmid announced the planned withdrawal of the last of its military deployment to Afghanistan that had started in 2003.[184]
  • On December 19, 2007, the Netherlands announced that it would begin to remove Dutch troops from Afghanistan in 2010, with Dutch troops leaving Afghanistan from July 2010. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen stated, "I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010." He also made clear, "I indicated that in writing ... to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it."[185]

"I am certain that Dutch troops will leave in 2010."

"I indicated that in writing ... to the NATO secretary general, who has confirmed it."

 
— Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen in December 2007.[185]
  • In February 2008, Switzerland's last soldiers still in Afghanistan had returned home and its military deployment to Afghanistan since 2003 was officially concluded. The Swiss military contingent had been in Afghanistan approximately 4 years and 8 months starting in June 2003.[184]
  • On September 10, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged that Canada will withdraw the bulk of its military forces in Afghanistan in 2011, saying that a decade of war is enough and, "You have to put an end date on these things." He acknowledged that neither the Canadian public nor the troops themselves had any appetite to stay longer in the war and said that only a small group of advisers might remain.[186]
  • On September 6, 2009, The Independent reported that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had put the United States on notice that he planned to cut the number of British troops in Afghanistan by at least half within "three to five years, maximum". The partial troop withdrawal would bring British troop numbers in Afghanistan from over 9,000 to fewer than 5,000. On September 4, 2009, Brown had confirmed in a keynote speech that he was considering a short-term increase in British troops in Afghanistan as a prelude to a British exit.[187]
  • On September 14, 2009, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reaffirmed that Canada would withdraw its troops in 2011 even if President Barack Obama asked him for an extension. A spokesperson for Harper said "Canada's position is clear - The military component of the mission ends in 2011." Harper had first announced Canada's troop removal in 2008, stating that Canada had done its part after being in Afghanistan since after the 2001 U.S. invasion, and in Kandahar, one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces, since 2006.[188]

"Canada's position is clear - The military component of the mission ends in 2011."

 
— spokesperson for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, September 14, 2009[188]
  • On September 16, 2009, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama signalled through key cabinet choices that he would keep his election pledge to withdraw Japan's military support from the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Hatoyama appointed as his Defence Minister 71-year old Toshimi Kitazawa, a strong opponent of the country’s military support for the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and included in his cabinet Mizuho Fukushima, leader of his coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which is committed to upholding Japan’s "peace" constitution and its explicit ban on the use of force in resolving international disputes. The appointments suggest that Japanese military ships providing fuel and water to U.S. and British naval vessels in the Indian Ocean will be called home when the current term of their deployment expires in February.[189]
  • On September 17, 2009, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said it would be best for foreign troops to leave Afghanistan soon. He also announced that he planned to bring home at least 500 of Italy's 2,800 troops deployed in Afghanistan "in the next few weeks". Italy had increased its troop level by 500 before Afghanistan's August 20 national election. A key coalition partner in Berlusconi's government, Reforms Minister Umberto Bossi said he hoped Italy's 2,800 troops could leave Afghanistan within 3 months by Christmas. Berlusconi's announcement followed the deaths of six Italian soldiers in a suicide bombing in Kabul the day before, which had brought to 20 the number of Italian troops that have been killed since Italy's troops arrived in Afghanistan in 2004.[190][191]

"We are all convinced it's best for everybody to get out soon."

 
— Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, September 17, 2009[190]
  • On September 22, 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted he was focused on cutting back on the number of British troops in Afghanistan as soon as Afghan security forces were able to carry out their own security duties. The Times had reported that Britain was considering deploying a further 1,000 troops to its contingent of 9,000 troops in Afghanistan in response to the report from the the American commander of all foreign military forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal. Brown had previously stated in a keynote speech that he was considering a short-term increase in British troops in Afghanistan as a prelude to a British exit. The British toll since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 stood at 217 deaths.[192][187]
  • On October 6, 2009, the Dutch parliament voted by a large majority to pull Dutch troops out of Afghanistan in August 2010 as scheduled and bring them home. The motion to respect the scheduled withdrawal date was drawn up by two of the three parties in the coalition government, and was voted for by a large majority of Dutch MPs, despite pressure by the United States again for a second extension of the Dutch military involvement in Afghanistan.[193][194]
  • On October 14, 2009, Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said that Japan will end its Indian Ocean naval refuelling mission that supports the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. Kitazawa said: "We will calmly withdraw (our ships) when the law expires next January". While in opposition, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's party argued that Japan, officially pacifist since World War II, should not abet "American wars".[195][196]
  • On January 6, 2010, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made clear that virtually all Canadian soldiers will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2011, stating: "We will not be undertaking any activities that require any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy." He emphasized again, "The bottom line is that the military mission will end in 2011."[197][198]
  • In February 2010, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Wouter Bos, promised to bring Dutch troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year, as scheduled. The Dutch public, as well as the Dutch Parliament, favor the withdrawal of their military from Afghanistan. The Netherlands is also facing a forecasted 2010 budget deficit of 6.1% of GDP.[199] Bos reiterated to Dutch voters the pledge he had already made to them in 2007, saying at a party meeting:

"By the end of this year, the last soldier should have left Uruzghan. We're keeping our promise to the Dutch people."

 
— Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands Wouter Bos, February 2010[199]
  • On February 21, 2010, the Dutch coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende collapsed when Balkenende, under entreaties from the United States, tried to extend the Dutch military presence in Afghanistan yet again, despite the government having previously promised Dutch voters that troops would be brought home in August 2010. As in many parts of Europe, the war in Afghanistan has been increasingly unpopular with voters in the Netherlands. The fall of the Balkenende government over the issue made it all but guaranteed that Dutch troops will be gone from Afghanistan by the end of the year. A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Defense stated: "The military mission will stop the 1st of August. They have time until the end of the year to pick up their gear and their stuff and bring it back to the Netherlands."[193][194][200]

See also

References

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  2. ^ "Protesters demand end to bombing". BBC. 10 November 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/1648479.stm. Retrieved 2006-11-11. 
  3. ^ Afghanistan: Where Empires Go to Die
  4. ^ End the Occupation of Iraq -- and Afghanistan
  5. ^ a b c Quittin' time in Afghanistan
  6. ^ a b c d Who's Afraid of A Terrorist Haven?
  7. ^ a b c The War In Afghanistan
  8. ^ Afghan Problem 'a Lot Deeper Than Bin Laden'
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  10. ^ Ahmed Rashid Offers An Update On The Taliban
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  12. ^ a b c US Bombs Are Boosting the Taliban
  13. ^ Afghan unrest killed 4,000 civilians in 2008: report
  14. ^ iCasualties.org Afghanistan coalition military fatalities
  15. ^ U.S. Allies Await Afghan Review
  16. ^ 47-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey p.24, p.116
  17. ^ 25-Nation Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 2009, p.22 (PDF p.26) Opposition to War in Afghanistan
  18. ^ a b Poll: Support for Afghan war at all-time low
  19. ^ a b c A Skeptical View of Afghanistan
  20. ^ Anti-War Stirrings Greet Call For More Troops
  21. ^ Afghans have no hope in this week's vote
  22. ^ Classified McChrystal Report: 500,000 Troops Will Be Required Over Five Years in Afghanistan
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  26. ^ a b c US may shift Afghan war tactics: report
  27. ^ a b Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore
  28. ^ Poll shows most Britons oppose war in Afghanistan
  29. ^ Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda
  30. ^ U.S. kicks hornet's nest in Yemen
  31. ^ Old threat rings true today
  32. ^ Only pressure to withdraw can stop this blood price
  33. ^ a b c Time to Get Out of Afghanistan
  34. ^ U.S., Allies Vow Support for Karzai
  35. ^ Gates Doubts U.S.'s Afghan Strategy
  36. ^ Obama in New Round of Meetings on Afghanistan
  37. ^ a b Advisers split complicates Obama's Afghan decision
  38. ^ Will Obama abandon Afghanistan?
  39. ^ a b West should vote with its feet
  40. ^ a b c d e f g A letter from Afghanistan that every American must read
  41. ^ Afghanistan: Why Obama is rethinking 'war of necessity'
  42. ^ a b c d An Open Letter to President Obama
  43. ^ Obama to Reassess Afghanistan War
  44. ^ Classified McChrystal Report: 500,000 Troops Will Be Required Over Five Years in Afghanistan
  45. ^ Focus and Exit: An Alternative Strategy for the Afghan War - Summary
  46. ^ Obama Faces Familiar Divisions Over Anti-Terror Policies
  47. ^ a b Matthew Hoh September 10, 2009 letter of resignation
  48. ^ a b c U.S. official resigns over Afghan war
  49. ^ Matthew Hoh: new poster boy for critics of Afghanistan war
  50. ^ a b c The Afghanistan Abyss
  51. ^ a b Former CIA Operatives Agree: American Occupation of Afghanistan Threatens US Security
  52. ^ a b Afghan jails are base for al-Qaida and Taliban, says US commander
  53. ^ a b Foiling U.S. Plan, Prison Expands in Afghanistan
  54. ^ a b U.S. Planning Big New Prison in Afghanistan
  55. ^ a b Pentagon Seeks to Overhaul Prisons in Afghanistan
  56. ^ No Place Like Home
  57. ^ Pul-e-Charkhi Jail inmates face awful life
  58. ^ New Afghan Cabinet Picks Still Generate Resistance
  59. ^ a b Two Views on Afghanistan Mission - 'The War Is a Breeding Program for Terrorists'
  60. ^ Hamid Karzai: President of Afghanistan By Philip Wolny, p.82
  61. ^ Into the valley of death: UK troops head into Afghan war zone
  62. ^ Special report: Afghanistan - The dead zone
  63. ^ a b c UNAMA - Suicide Attacks in Afghanistan (2001-2007)
  64. ^ The Afghan-Pakistan War: The Rising Intensity of Conflict: 2001-2007
  65. ^ UNAMA - Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict 2008
  66. ^ Afghanistan’s New Security Threat
  67. ^ a b Al Qaeda Regaining Former Strength?
  68. ^ Upsurge in Afghan suicide attacks
  69. ^ a b The Afghan-Pakistan War: The Rising Intensity of Conflict: 2007-2008
  70. ^ Afghan roadside bombs hit record in 2008
  71. ^ Improvised explosive devices: A growing menace in Afghanistan
  72. ^ Afghan Insurgents Expand Their Use of Increasingly Sophisticated Homemade Bombs
  73. ^ Taliban makes IEDs deadlier
  74. ^ Taliban make 'undetectable' bombs out of wood
  75. ^ IEDs: The poor man’s artillery
  76. ^ a b c d e f g h i America's Pipe Dream
  77. ^ Leaflets Falling in Afghanistan Hide the Facts
  78. ^ a b c d e The Surreal Politics of Premeditated War
  79. ^ a b What good friends left behind
  80. ^ a b U.S. Ties to Saudi Elite May Be Hurting War on Terrorism
  81. ^ a b Ex-Spook Sirrs: Early Osama Call Got Her Ejected
  82. ^ Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline
  83. ^ Afghan Pipeline Deal Close
  84. ^ U.S. Department of State biography for Zalmay M. Khalilzad
  85. ^ Memories of Afghanistan
  86. ^ NATO Parliamentary Assembly - Mediterranean Dialogue Seminar, Istanbul 27-28 November, 1997
  87. ^ Business and Security: Public–Private Sector Relationships in a New Security Environment
  88. ^ Nomination of John J. Maresca To Be Special Cyprus Coordinator
  89. ^ Nomination of John J. Maresca for the Rank of Ambassador
  90. ^ February 12, 1998 Hearing on U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics
  91. ^ US 'planned attack on Taleban'
  92. ^ a b c d Afghanistan, the Taliban and the Bush Oil Team
  93. ^ Al-Qaida monitored U.S. negotiations with Taliban over oil pipeline
  94. ^ a b Professor says America seeks Afghanistan Oil Deal
  95. ^ a b For Afghan Clan, a Full Circle Back to Power
  96. ^ a b c Mr. Karzai goes to Washington
  97. ^ Le Monde, December 5, 2001, Portrait Pachtoune, le nouveau président afghan est un proche des Américains.
  98. ^ Le Monde, December 6, 2001, Hamid Karzaï, une large connaissance du monde occidental
  99. ^ Le nouvel homme fort de l'Afghanistan connaît bien le monde occidental
  100. ^ El Mundo, February 18, 2002, A U.S. oil company behind the appointments of Karzai and Khalilzad
  101. ^ BBC Mundo, December 27, 2002, Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline
  102. ^ These wars are about oil, not democracy
  103. ^ a b Chicago Tribune - Pipeline Politics Taint US War
  104. ^ Bush appoints Afghan envoy
  105. ^ Musharraf, Karzai Agree To Consider Gas Pipeline
  106. ^ February 11, 2002 Oil, Sharon and the Axis of Evil - The Great Game
  107. ^ Afghan pipeline given go-ahead
  108. ^ A Pipeline Through a Troubled Land
  109. ^ These wars are about oil, not democracy
  110. ^ a b United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (PDF). Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/research/AFG07_ExSum_web.pdf. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
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  112. ^ Men With Guns, in Kabul and Washington
  113. ^ Caught in a swirl of deceit
  114. ^ America has been here before
  115. ^ a b Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 163 (Wednesday, November 4, 2009)
  116. ^ a b c Economic scene: Afghanistan will cost US more than Iraq
  117. ^ Barack Obama ready to pay Afghan fighters to ditch the Taliban
  118. ^ Faster troop withdrawal may save $1 trillion
  119. ^ Some reasons why the war in Afghanistan is insanity
  120. ^ Sanders Calls for National Dialogue on Afghanistan Exit Strategy
  121. ^ Afghanistan Surge to Cost $40 Billion, Democrat Says
  122. ^ Cost of Afghan War Explodes With New Strategy
  123. ^ Revealed: £12bn hidden costs of Afghan war
  124. ^ a b U.S. involved in Iraq war longer than it was in World War II (Associated Press tally of lengths of U.S. participation in major wars)
  125. ^ Obama’s Afghan war - a race against time
  126. ^ What If The People Of Afghanistan Could Choose?
  127. ^ A Game That’s Not So Great
  128. ^ Afghanistan pro-con: It will become a quagmire
  129. ^ Afghan Says Army Will Need Help Until 2024
  130. ^ a b 20-year commitment needed in Afghanistan, Higgins says
  131. ^ Civilian Goals Largely Unmet in Afghanistan
  132. ^ a b Army Chief: We'll be in Afghanistan until 2050
  133. ^ Gates: No Troop Request In Afghanistan Review
  134. ^ Risk of death soars for Canada's troops
  135. ^ More troops and new strategy for Afghanistan will be hard to come by
  136. ^ Official chronology of the withdrawal from Afghanistan
  137. ^ a b c d West ignores lessons of Soviet humiliation in Afghanistan
  138. ^ a b c d The CIA's Intervention in Afghanistan
  139. ^ Ahmed Rashid interview August 10, 2000
  140. ^ Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia by Ahmed Rashid
  141. ^ a b c d Fueling Afghanistan's War
  142. ^ UN About Afghanistan
  143. ^ Afghanistan Landmine Update News
  144. ^ Afghanistan: Landmine Fact Sheet
  145. ^ Remarks by the President on A New Beginning at Cairo University, Egypt
  146. ^ a b Pressure grows in Afghanistan for Hamid Karzai to strike a deal
  147. ^ Top US general calls for new strategy in Afghanistan
  148. ^ Afghan mission risks 'failure' without more troops, says US general
  149. ^ A D.C. whodunit: Who leaked and why?
  150. ^ Sources: McChrystal Wants Up to 40,000 More Troops in Afghanistan
  151. ^ Commander to send troop request for Afghanistan
  152. ^ Joint Chiefs Chairman Receives Afghanistan Troop Request, Aides Say
  153. ^ Afghanistan Troop Request to Offer Options for Obama
  154. ^ Attacks on Remote Posts Highlight Afghan Risks
  155. ^ American strategy of winning trust of Afghan people is high risk
  156. ^ a b Afghan War Draws Comparisons to Vietnam
  157. ^ Will Afghanistan Be Worse Than Vietnam? 7 Tough Questions to Ask Obama Before He Sinks Us Into a New Quagmire
  158. ^ a b c d Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam?
  159. ^ Obama at the Precipice
  160. ^ a b A Voice Worth Heeding on Afghanistan
  161. ^ a b Can Congress Save Obama from Afghan Quagmire?
  162. ^ March 16, 2009 letter to President Barack Obama
  163. ^ 14 representatives urge President Obama to reconsider troop escalation in Afghanistan
  164. ^ a b c d e Obama could face party revolt on Afghanistan
  165. ^ a b c Democrats in Congress Wary of Afghanistan Escalation
  166. ^ a b Obama struggles to gather support for Afghan surge
  167. ^ a b Plan to Boost Afghan Forces Splits Obama Advisers
  168. ^ Top US senator pleads for patience on Afghanistan
  169. ^ Kerry points to Vietnam lessons on Afghanistan
  170. ^ Testing Afghanistan Assumptions
  171. ^ a b Congresswoman Lee Introduces Legislation Prohibiting Funding for Military Escalation in Afghanistan
  172. ^ a b c US Lawmakers Question Afghanistan Strategy
  173. ^ Enough is Enough in Afghanistan
  174. ^ US ambassador warns against Afghanistan troop surge
  175. ^ Afghanistan - the proxy war
  176. ^ Afghanistan war threatens to make us ‘the evil we deplore’
  177. ^ Reassessing Obama's 'war of necessity'
  178. ^ Afghanistan: NATO's Graveyard? Is the Transatlantic Alliance Doomed?
  179. ^ Obama at the Precipice: Tough Guys Don't Need to Dance in Afghanistan
  180. ^ What are US Goals in Afghanistan?
  181. ^ Eighth year of Afghan War should be the last
  182. ^ South Korean troops leaving Afghanistan
  183. ^ Washington asks Seoul for money for Afghanistan
  184. ^ a b Switzerland ends military mission in Afghanistan
  185. ^ a b Netherlands confirms 2010 Afghanistan pullout
  186. ^ Harper says 2011 'end date' for Afghanistan mission
  187. ^ a b British troop numbers to be cut in Afghanistan
  188. ^ a b Canadian PM says he won't extend Afghan mission
  189. ^ Japan ready to withdraw support for Afghanistan war
  190. ^ a b Berlusconi: best to exit Afghanistan soon
  191. ^ Berlusconi Says Italy to Withdraw 500 Afghanistan Troops Soon
  192. ^ UK's Brown seeks fewer UK troops in Afghanistan
  193. ^ a b Parliament votes against new Afghan mission
  194. ^ a b Dutch Government Falls Over Stance on Troops
  195. ^ Japan to end Afghan refuelling mission
  196. ^ Japan to end Afghan refuelling mission in January
  197. ^ Afghanistan will be 'strictly civilian mission' after 2011, PM says
  198. ^ Afghan Pullout Final: PM
  199. ^ a b Dutch Parliament Debates Afghanistan
  200. ^ Dutch political crisis over war

External links

  • Rethink Afghanistan, a ground-breaking documentary focusing on key issues surrounding the war, available for free online.
Part 1: Troops  · Part 2: Pakistan  · Part 3: Cost of the War  · Part 4: Civilian Casualties  · Part 5: Women  · Part 6: Security







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