Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Why We Failed to Win a Decisive Victory in Afghanistan

| March 2, 2015

Shifting political allegiances, not smashing enemies, should have been the goal. And that holds true for the campaign against the Islamic State as well.

There's been a great debate over on Tom Ricks's Best Defense blog in response to Jim Gourley's question in relation to the Afghanistan campaign: "Why did we fail to render our enemies — those people who actively participated in open hostility against our forces — powerless?" Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the responses have taken the view that we have, indeed, lost in Afghanistan.

I take issue, however, with the starting assumption that "rendering our enemies powerless" should be the standard by which we evaluate the success of military action in Afghanistan, or lack thereof. I think the assumption clouds the analysis of both of Afghanistan and the conflict against so called Islamic State....

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Simpson, Emile.“Why We Failed to Win a Decisive Victory in Afghanistan.” Foreign Policy, March 2, 2015.

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