Small Wars Journal

How Did Afghanistan Become a War Without End?

How Did Afghanistan Become a War Without End? By Robert Cassidy – Modern War Institute

The war in Afghanistan hit the seventeen-year mark for the United States and its partners this month. Soldiers in the US-led coalition have been fighting and killing and dying for almost eight years longer than the Soviets occupied Afghanistan. The reasons for this protracted stalemate are manifold, but the momentum that would bring the war in Afghanistan to an end remains elusive in large part because the coalition has until now been unable to link the grammar of war to the political object it seeks. For the logic of strategy to work, ends should drive means, not the other way around. The value of the political object, or the worth of the ends sought, determines how long and what costs the United States should be willing to pay. In Afghanistan, if those political goals are articulated clearly, their worth should relate directly to the will of the US polity to persevere in the war to a successful end…

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