We have been at war for a long time. It’s likely that this article is preaching to the choir, as many of SOFREP’s readers were intimately involved in the war themselves, or at least know many people who were. However, even in many veteran circles, interest in news regarding Afghanistan has begun to wane. An attack on a compound here or a brash statement from the Taliban there — they rarely garner many views and are buried under the political drama of the day. After all, the same sounding news from the same country has been pumped across the internet for the last 17 years (yep, we’re coming up on 17).
As many of you are acutely aware, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, engaged in a war that is decidedly not the same one it was 17 years ago. Elements change. The entire political, military and cultural landscape has changed, and to insinuate that it’s the same old thing as before is reductive and inaccurate.
A lot of people only pay attention to the occasional interesting expert, but many experts get a feel for what’s going on in Afghanistan, then they leave, and they don’t keep up with the continuous, rapid changes in the war. When they offer their insights or advice, it could be insights that’s based on knowledge from years ago, on top of a few headline-level updates. That’s not to say don’t listen to the experts — it’s just that those occasional articles shouldn’t be all that is read.
A suicide bombing occurring just after a fatwa forbade suicide bombings, for example, is significantly different and more impactful to the future of the country than a suicide bombing in a combat scenario against Afghan soldiers in a remote base near the border of Pakistan (just as heartbreaking, but different political implications). You hear a lot of arguments with broad, catchy titles that lump dozens of such events into 400 or 500 words — like the ones that say the war will continue on forever, or that the Americans are losing, or how one man’s plan is going to change everything — again, these headlines are reductive and usually attempt to generalize the situation far past all its nuances.