Editor’s note: This is the last of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series examined each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here, Part II here, Part III here, Part IV here and Part V here. In 2001, the Taliban were thought to be all but defeated with the fall of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, little more than a month after the U.S. launched its first airstrikes on […]

For more than a decade, the United States has poured blood and money into Afghanistan, hoping to turn it into some sort of functioning democracy that could at least keep the Taliban at bay. This project always had a deep tinge of unreality. Few places on earth are less hospitable to accountable governance, robust rule of law, protection of human rights and security provided by the state. The United States and its allies never had a plan to make Afghanistan economically self-sufficient or able to pay for its own security forces. Everyone knew the state would remain a ward of […]

Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series runs every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here, Part II here, Part III here and Part IV here. In 2009, President Barack Obama vowed to narrow the U.S. mission in Afghanistan while expanding the resources for it, announcing a goal to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and […]

Editor’s note: This is the fifth of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series runs every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here. Regional Command South encompasses Afghanistan’s key southern province of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement in the 1990s and an epicenter of its violent resurgence between 2005 and 2006. The province’s […]