Eleven years into the U.S. war in Afghanistan, both Americans and Afghans seem to be left with more questions than answers. In just the past few weeks, the joint war effort has seen a steady drumbeat of setbacks: A disastrous insurgent attack on the heavily fortified Camp Bastion in Helmand cost the lives of two Marines and over $180 million in damage. Eight civilian Afghan women were killed in an airstrike on an insurgent position in Logar province. Twelve people, mostly foreign aid workers, were killed on Sept. 18 by a female suicide bomber in Kabul. And the last fortnight saw four more "green-on-blue" attacks, including the Sept. 30 clash in which both Americans and Afghans were killed, bringing the total to 53 coalition lives lost this year at the hands of their supposed allies.
In the aftermath of such events, many onlookers have taken an understandably grim view -- concluding either that the United States has outstayed its welcome and this is a signal for it to leave (faster), or that the cultural divide is simply so large that an ultimate breakdown in relations is inevitable. These are the talking points the enemies of Afghanistan and the United States are busy propagating and would be all too happy for us to believe.