Afghanistan One Year Later: Tactical Success Without Strategic Progress

One year ago in his speech at West Point, President Obama announced that the United States would pursue three objectives in Afghanistan: 1) to deny al Qaeda a safe haven; 2) to reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government of President Hamid Karzai; and 3) strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government so that they can take the lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future. In order to do so, he ordered the deployment of an additional 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan.

One year later, tactical successes on the battlefield do not add up to lasting strategic progress in the war in Afghanistan. Despite a huge infusion of money and troops, we appear to be standing in place. The dynamics driving and enabling the insurgency—political grievances, weak and illegitimate government, insufficient security, and a safe haven for insurgents in Pakistan—remain in place, undermining our best efforts to stabilize the country.

This article was originally published in Foreign Policy.