The 14 Year War the US Lost

Two days ago, Obama announced he was redeploying  several hundred more troops to Afghanistan as “advisers” to the Afghan army, while grossly minimizing the reality that the Taliban controls most of the country outside of Kabul. 

This is Taliban Country

Al Jazeera (2014)

Film Review

In This is Taliban Country a Danish journalist visits Afghanistan to examine the ongoing campaign by the Taliban to win the “hearts and minds” of the civilian population in the regions under their control.

It’s an open secret that the US lost their 14 year war on the Taliban, even before Obama’s partial draw down of US troops in 2014-2015.* The Taliban, which controls large swathes of territory outside of Kabul, generally enjoys the support of civilians under their rule. They provide the security and stability most Afghans crave after decades of civil war. Moreover they do so far more benevolently than either the corrupt Afghan government with their network of warlords or US occupiers.

For civil complaints (land disputes, unpaid bills, etc), most residents prefer the Taliban courts to the corrupt government courts (the verdict always depends on who you know). The interpretation of Shariah law varies depending on locale, but most inflict “cruel and unusual” punishments (stoning, chopping off hands and occasionally heads) for serious “crimes” such as adultery.

The Taliban is currently engaged in an ambitious PR campaign to improve their public image as they consolidate their power in Afghanistan. They have allowed some state schools to reopen, including a few primary schools for girls. There is little support for girls’ secondary education, as most Afghan girls marry when they reach puberty.

Taliban leaders claim to have learned from past mistakes. It’s no longer a crime for men to shave their beards or women to appear in public without a burqa. Unlike fifteen years ago, when they first took power, they now allow smoking cigarettes and marijuana and watching TV. Music is still banned.


*Obama halted the withdrawal of US troops in October 2015, when he announced five to ten thousand troops would remain in Afghanistan through 2017.

12 thoughts on “The 14 Year War the US Lost

  1. Imagine that, the Taliban are better for the Afghan people than capitalism and democracy. Who would have ever guessed?

    All that hell, all those Afghan lives ripped apart and lost, and for what? U.S. Hegemony/Imperialism. And now Obama is evidently going to seek round two, so he can destroy more Afghan lives while making big bucks for his elite owners and operators.

    I hope the Afghans slay every last “adviser” sent there!

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    • What’s truly ironic is that the US is responsible for funding the Taliban’s rise to power in the first place. They thought it would promote stability in Afghanistan for their Caspian oil pipelines – this happened before they discovered the Caspian basin had too little oil to be profitable. Michael Ruppert writes about this in Crossing the Rubicon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had heard this back in 2003, in passing. But it had slipped my mind.

        I hadn’t, however, heard why the US helped the Taliban to get into power, but it is no surprise that oil was behind the decision, both ways.

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    • No, I don’t think so. Never heard of him before. He’s probably a freelancer who managed to get this assignment with al Jazeera.

      Btw, the Taliban is not a homogeneous group with a central command or HQ. The only thing they have in common is the training they received at the religious madrassas – financed by the Saudis. Most of the Pakistani police and military are actually Taliban too. Even the former president Karzai was a Taliban and a Pashtun who fought the Soviets in the 80s, but switched sides when the Americans invaded Afghanistan and allied himself with the Northern alliance.

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  2. I am not sure of the reliability of this filmmaker… According to Al Jazeera “three million girls returned to school” when the Taliban were overthrown. Now they are back, wanting to train as doctors, etc. See film, Pencils and Bullets.

    “Five years ago Al Jazeera travelled to Afghanistan to see one of the most dramatic social changes in Afghanistan in the previous decade – the vastly improved access to education, especially for girls.

    After 2001, when the Taliban were toppled from power by US-backed Afghan forces, three million girls returned to school. Women had previously been banned from work and education under Taliban rule.

    But the team found that periodic attacks against female students, their teachers and their school buildings, were continuing. And fears were growing that gains in girls’ education could soon be traded away as Western forces prepared to leave and the Afghan government sought peace talks with the Taliban.

    Pencils and Bullets focuses on two young girls from the minority Turkmen community in northern Afghanistan. Hayt Gul wants an education rather than sitting at home carpet-weaving with her mother. Nooriya wants to become a doctor. Both are eager students who seek to shine in their class.”

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      • You may well be right about al Jazeera. But don’t we have a lot of other evidence that women and girls in Afghanistan do highly value education? And don’t want to be married off at puberty?

        The source is not the issue, to my mind. I thought the reviewer’s comment that they don’t value education was appalling!

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