The Eternal Failure of Nation-Building Forever Wars

Clay Banks/Unsplash

Fernando Fernandez/Staff Writer

With the last of the American forces having withdrawn from Afghanistan a little under two weeks ago, the time for reflection has officially finally arrived.

This was the United States’ longest war after all. It is therefore only right that we question what exactly we accomplished there. Was the 2001-2021 Afghanistan War really worth the thousands of casualties of both US service members and Afghan civilians?

 While it did start off as a war to capture the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — Osama bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan eventually became yet another nation-building forever war. 

In fact, the second and third phases of the conflict were specifically meant to rebuild core institutions of the state and the local military, with the main objective being that the Taliban never rise again. 

A noble goal, to be sure, given that the Taliban regime is not good; like, at all. However, the mission was very clearly a colossal failure.

You see, people across the world usually don’t respond kindly to foreign occupations. 

Just imagine how the U.S. would react if a foreign power came in, invaded us, occupied us and tried to implement their way of governance. We would rebel, regardless of what type of governance the foreign power was trying to implement.

In fact, one does need to go that far back to find yet another famous example of this type of strategy failing — one involving Afghanistan as well, curiously enough. 

The infamous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the 1980s tried to impose communism on the country. But they fiercely resisted and the communist government that they supported immediately collapsed upon their withdrawal. And wouldn’t you believe it, the same thing happened four decades later.

 The United States tried to impose liberal democracy in Afghanistan. However, resistance was fierce, and the government they supported collapsed immediately upon their withdrawal.

That’s because history repeats, my friend. And that is precisely the point that I am trying to make here in this article.

Kabul took less than 10 days to fall immediately upon the beginning of the American withdrawal, for instance.  Your intentions as a country could be noble, but nobody likes it when stuff is imposed on them.

Now, I wish that I had a solution to this. Genuinely, a lot of people are indeed going to suffer due to this renewed rule by the Taliban regime. But it’s just not that easy, unfortunately.

I do not proclaim to be an expert about absolutely everything when it comes to this issue, but I do know that these nation-building forever wars usually don’t work. 

They rarely accomplish their objectives, at the cost of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives.  Hence why the main lesson to learn from this disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, in my view, is that forever wars that attempt to nation-build almost never work.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community

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