NEW DELHI – In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his reelection, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will now end. The line was greeted with prolonged applause – and understandably so. In fact, this ill-advised war – launched on the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution – has been grinding on for 11 years, making it the longest in American history.
At the beginning, the war was aimed at eliminating Al Qaeda, vanquishing the Taliban, and transforming Afghanistan into something resembling a Western-style nation-state. With none of these goals fully achieved, America’s intervention – like every other intervention in Afghanistan’s history – is ending unsatisfactorily.