How is a “Winning the Peace” Strategy Relevant to Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is an excellent example. The former Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan from 1979 until 1989, and they were toppled in large part by the assistance the United States provided to the Majahideen. When the USSR was defeated, America and the international community went on to other challenges, and Afghanistan was placed on the back burner. Like Nicaragua or Haiti, when the dictators fell, the country was forgotten.

What was left behind in Afghanistan was a catastrophe. We had succeeded in winning the war, but as the 1990’s demonstrated. we clearly failed in winning the peace.

America really regretted this lack of attention in 1995 when the Taliban took total control of the country, and immediately began to persecute its people. Many pundits said the Taliban took the country back to the stone age, and this was an apt description.

The cruel Taliban regime was defeated militarily in less than a month in October of 2001, but after 23 years of war, the reconstruction of that nation has been both time consuming and expensive. America provided $649 million in economic assistance to Afghanistan in 2002, and another $1.2 billion in 2003.

This is a generous level of support, but far more needs to be done. The country lacks almost any infrastructure including roads, dams and power plants. Electricity and clean water are severely restricted, and the demand has increased because when the fighting stopped over 2 million refugees returned to Afghanistan. Over $20 billion will be needed over the next five years, and this type of aid is a key reason the United Nations is so valuable.


The UN organized a donors conference in Tokyo and a dozen nations as well as the World Bank and the European Union pledged $5.2 billion. Afghanistan needs much more, but this is a solid start. Per capita economic aid and humanitarian assistance was provided by UN member nations in even larger amounts in East Timor, Rwanda, Kosovo and Bosnia. Because of the UN, a multinational peacekeeping force has had a major role in all of these nations.

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