The United States officially ended its participation in the Afghanistan war in late 2014. That conflict, sparked by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, lasted 13 years and is the longest war the U.S. ever fought. The media declared it a lost war and opinion polls (heavily influenced by the media) showed 14 percent of Americans feeling the war was won, 33 saying it was lost and 53 percent undecided.
Victory conditions (the objectives of the war) are supposed to be what drives the conduct and culmination of any war but the “objectives” sometimes change as a war goes on. Initially the objective of the Afghanistan operation was to shut down terrorist (especially al Qaeda) operations there. That was accomplished quite handily. But then it was decided to try and remodel Afghanistan into a modern state that would not be likely to again become a terrorist sanctuary. This decision was influenced by the growing realization that neighboring Pakistan was secretly supporting many Islamic terrorist organizations (including the Taliban and al Qaeda) and would help get the Taliban and al Qaeda back into Afghanistan. Afghanistan had to be made capable of resisting the interference by Pakistan. And interfere is precisely what Pakistan did, even though that backfired on them as more of their pet Islamic terrorist groups turned hostile and began attacking the Pakistani government and people. By 2010 it became quite difficult for the media to handle this bizarre situation. The U.S. government wasn’t doing much better, nor was the Pakistani government. This became obvious in 2011 when the American commandos who went after 2001 terror planner Osama bin Laden, who had been living near several Pakistani military bases for the last five years, found more evidence of Pakistani complicity in supporting Islamic terrorism. The Pakistani military denied any responsibility and again threatened their own government to back off on any investigations into why bin Laden was where he was and how he remained undetected in a country that had always said they did not know where he was.
All this proved difficult for most Americans to sort out and that’s why most Americans are unwilling to declare the Afghan War a “victory” even though the immediate objectives were quickly won. What no one wants to dwell on is the fact that we are at war (albeit a cold one) with a nuclear armed nation that actively supports terrorists. In this case it is Pakistan, during the Cold War it was the Soviet Union. Déjà vu all over again.