West's Afghan Hopes Collide with Reality

The outcome in Afghanistan won't resemble the vision of America and its allies, who wanted a strong, Western-aligned central government keeping the Taliban at bay. The goals should now be less ambitious.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2012

THE WEST’S military engagement in Afghanistan is entering its eleventh year and has another two years to go before the end of combat operations in 2014. Whatever the result of the international conferences that began last year in Istanbul and Bonn to elicit support for a successor state, one thing is clear: after Western forces draw down, Afghanistan won’t bear much resemblance to the Western vision that fueled the intervention in the first place. However effective Western military organizations are in transitioning to Afghan control, the country’s future will not be decided primarily by the residual structures and legacies of Western involvement, the current Taliban insurgency or even any formal process of reconciliation.

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