The Changing Face of Afghanistan, 2001-08
Based on the reporting of major American news media, one could have drawn the conclusion that the Bush administration had paid little attention to Afghanistan or that its strategy focused mainly on military operations in the country. This conclusion would have been inaccurate. Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush articulated his broad foreign policy goals in Afghanistan and laid out a strategy that included the main instruments of U.S. national power: diplomatic, economic, and military. He also recognized the United States could not achieve its objectives unilaterally; he welcomed and strongly supported cooperation with the United Nations (UN) and the international community. The U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan was multilateral and multinational from the beginning in 2001. The administration also constantly assessed the progress being made, as well as the challenges, and it was flexible enough to adjust its strategy to address challenges and changing conditions in the country and the region. This paper is a review of the broad dimensions of the Bush administration’s Afghanistan policy and what was achieved over the course of 7 1/2 years, as well as some of the ongoing challenges.