NATO’s flag-lowering ceremonies in Afghanistan and attempts to spin the 13+ year Afghan War as over belie the reality, which is that the war is simply transitioning to a more US-dominated conflict, with little tangible change between now and January 1.
The PR move is a risky one, however, because if the war was over, it’d be time to start wondering who won. The Taliban has been quick to jump into the conversation, insisting they had defeated NATO.
The Taliban’s new statement noted NATO had not achieved anything substantial in the 13-plus years of occupation, and said that the war end ceremonies proved a demoralized force was turning and running.
Unfortunately, some 13,000 US and allied occupation forces will remain in Afghanistan, with a deal to leave troops through 2024 and beyond. The war seems set to continue, in everything but name, through its second decade and well into its third, with no end in sight, and no winners.