R. A. Schultz




Afghanistan was founded in 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes.  The country served as a buffer between the British and Russian Empires until it won independence from notional British control in 1919.  A brief experiment in democracy ended in a 1973 coup and a 1978 Communist counter-coup.




The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to support the tottering Afghan Communist regime, touching off a long and destructive war.  The USSR withdrew in 1989 under relentless pressure by internationally supported anti-Communist mujahedin rebels.  A series of subsequent civil wars saw Kabul finally fall in 1996 to the Taliban, a hardline Pakistani-sponsored movement that emerged in 1994 to end the country's civil war and anarchy.




Afghanistan remained for years a failed state, highly susceptible to infiltration, manipulation, and even occupation, by non-state America-hating actors, such as al-Qaeda.




Following the 9/11 attacks, a U.S. and Allied invasion coupled with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance was undertaken to execute a military action designed to topple the Taliban for having sheltered al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden.  The invaders basically ignored the lessons of history by placing “boots on the ground,” evidently obsessed with the nation-building vision of installing an Afghan version of Thomas Jefferson.




The U.N.-sponsored Bonn Conference in 2001 established a process for political reconstruction that included the adoption of a new constitution, a presidential election in 2004, and National Assembly elections in 2005.  In December of 2004, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected president of Afghanistan and the National Assembly was inaugurated the following December.  Karzai was re-elected in November 2009 for a second term.




During the summer of 2014, the campaigns of the top two vote-getters from the first round of the national election, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, disputed electoral results and exchanged charges of election fraud.  A US-led diplomatic intervention ultimately resulted in a September 2014 agreement whereby Ghani and Abdullah agreed to form the Government of National Unity, with Ghani as president and Abdullah assuming the newly-created position of chief executive officer.  A US-Afghan Bilateral Security Agreement and NATO Status of Forces agreement then provided the legal basis for the continued NATO presence in the country.




Especially in the eastern and southern provinces the Taliban remains a serious problem, still considering itself the rightful government of the country.  The Taliban refuses to consider a peace deal with the Afghan government while foreign military forces remain in Afghanistan.




Today, Afghanistan remains a relatively ungovernable tract of land, bordered on the west by Iran, on the north by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan (all former Soviet Socialist Republics), and on the south by Pakistan.  The country is completely land-locked, having access to the sea only with the acquiescence of neighboring, and increasingly-hostile nuclear-capable Pakistan.




The prognosis for long-term American success in this scenario is a tad less than terrific.




On Monday, December 9, 2019, the Washington Post executed a document dump, wherein they published a large quantity of documents purporting to support their contention that the government “misled” the American people with false information regarding our level of success in Afghanistan:







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