Typically astute thoughts by the Afghanistan Analysts Network’s Kate Clark on the clusterfuck that the West is leaving in the country:
Obama did indeed struggle to define victory in his state of the union address (read the text here). The US mission, he said, would achieve its mission by defeating ‘the core al-Qaeda’ by the end of 2014, but surely this was something that was achieved by 2002? The sense of déjà vu only continued as Obama went on to say, ‘We are negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counter-terrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.’ The ‘remnants’ term will be familiar to anyone here in the early years after the 2001 intervention to describe what US forces were doing in Afghanistan. Post-2014, it seems, they will be pursuing remnants again. (And what exactly are ‘their affiliates’: the Taleban, and if so, which ones? The Afghan Taleban or parts of them, like the Haqqani network? The Pakistani Taleban, Lashkar-e Tayba, Lashkar-e Jhangvi and so on?) Once more, it hardly sounds like victory or indeed mission accomplished.