The War in Afghanistan
Everyone knows about “the” war in Afghanistan, right? The one where the United States invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in retaliation against the events of 9/11, and where Saddam Hussein was taken out of power, Bin Laden was chased into hiding, and democracy built in the Afghan region. The war ended with a sizzle, but not after 30,000+ allied forces casualties, and over 26,000 civilian deaths between 2001 and 2014. Many thought that once the occupation of Afghanistan ended, the war would be over. Well, the war is not over, but the occupation has ended.
Withdrawal and War
When the last of the temporary troops left in December of 2014, it was with some semblance of confidence that democracy was well on its way to a sticking point in the region. However, not even one full month after the removal of the majority of “boots on the ground,” a suicide car bomb went off in Kabul. In mid-January, ISIS created a branch in Afghanistan, and immediately began recruiting. The group also immediately clashed with the Taliban, leading to more fighting and more recruitment. The events of car bombs, attacks, and Taliban fighting has continued through the remainder of 2015, with November marking even more Taliban group in-fighting than ever before, indicating that some members wish to leave the group to join ISIS forces.
Re-entering a War Zone
There is a lot of discussion between NATO and the United States as to whether or not they should send more enforcement to the region in the form of “boots on the ground,” but many governments do not want to get involved (again) because of the lack of positive outcome found the first time around. It took fourteen years to remove forces from Afghanistan, and the cost and casualties mounted during that time. If the Taliban and ISIS are attempting another full-scale campaign, many leaders want to assess other options rather than risking an on-the-ground assault.
Democracy and Governance
The main problem in Afghanistan, many people believe, is that Western values like democracy and a solid government are not translated well into Arabic and Middle Eastern cultures. Even after nearly fourteen years of occupation, the voting process did not go well, many parties attempted bribery and coercion, and small military factions pop up in an attempt to pass on their propaganda to the masses. This is almost an innate aspect of the Middle Eastern culture, and is hard to override with just a few years of democratic training. The country’s other forces, like the military, are incredibly unsuited to the task at hand, often avoiding training from US and other military forces, and refusing to shoot or fight during actual combat. The police force in Afghanistan is quite similar, refusing to uphold laws or breaking the laws themselves. Many world leaders believe these three branches of Afghani government are easily corrupted, are untrained and terrified, or are benefiting from working with the Taliban or ISIS. This makes the problem much more widespread than just a few rebel uprisings, and it is something that the world’s leaders have to evaluate prior to launching a plan of action.