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The Afghanistan Mission: What Went Wrong?

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, which deposed the Taliban regime, was followed by a major international effort to stabilize that country. More than a decade later, this effort has yielded neither security nor political stability in Afghanistan.

At their peak in 2011, there were more than 130,000 foreign troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and the country had become the single largest recipient of official development assistance in the world. Today, the United States and other Western nations are reducing their military presence in Afghanistan in anticipation of the scheduled cessation of ISAF combat operations at the end of 2014.

It seems a natural moment, therefore, to reflect on a question that will undoubtedly preoccupy scholars and analysts for years to come: What went wrong with the international effort to stabilize Afghanistan?

Read the entire article in Perspectives on Politics (free access until June 23).

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