On his recent visit to Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates reassured the army and Afghan government declaring that “we are in this thing to win.” However it is not clear to anybody, most importantly even to President Obama, as to what victory is in the ongoing war in Afghanistan. According to Glenn Kessler (‘We’re in this thing to win’, The Washington Post, December 2, 2009), “Obama has shied away from such expressive language, either in his speech last week announcing the decision to add at least 30,000 troops or when he first announced an Afghanistan strategy in March.” He explained his position saying, “..he (Obama) felt uncomfortable using the term ‘vistory’ when fighting a ‘non-state actor, a shadowy operation like al-Qaeda,’ because the goal is to prevent attacks on the United States, and because there will never be a signing ceremony with a defeated enemy,” (Glenn Kessler) … //
… If the purpose of the U.S. engagement in Afghanistan is to prevent terrorist attacks on America and the American people, the fight in Afghanistan serves this purpose only partially. The Taliban are active in other parts of the world also. They have attacked Americans from East Africa also. The 9/11 attacks was launched from Afghanistan by the Arab al-Qaeda. Not a single al-Qaeda member of the group that was responsible for 9/11 attack was Afghan.
One can argue that a sanguine effect of the war in Afghanistan is that no terrorist attack of the scale of 9/11 has occurred sincw then. In this sense, the Afghanistan war can be regarded as a victory for the U.S. But the actual situation is very complex and complicated. A victory in this sense is quite simplistic.
Terrorism has become a fact of life in the twenty-first century. It can not be completely eradicated any time soon. One needs to learn how to deal with the terrorists on day-to-day basis. The terrorists will cause fatalities because they themselves are prepared to give their lives for their cause howsoever nefarious or insane it may be. It is unfortunate but it’s a fact of life. (full text).