APAC—Top 10 Stories of Decade

By: The Diplomat

2. War in AfghanistanOctober 7, 2001 –

image: US Army

Prior to September 11, 2001, Afghanistan was in the grip of the Taliban, a hard-line Islamic regime with a 9th century perspective on human rights, known to be harbouring Osama bin Laden yet barely registering on the world’s news radar. But within weeks of the attacks on America, the Taliban had been ousted from power by an international coalition dominated by a smallish US force of mostly elite soldiers working with anti-Taliban tribal leaders. Yet despite a devastating show of US force, Taliban leader Mullah Omar slipped away (he is believed to be in Quetta) and bin Laden is thought to have escaped during the battle at Tora Bora. And with Washington’s attention diverted by its disastrous adventure in Iraq, the Taliban has since regrouped from its new base in Pakistan’s wild northwest.

By the time incoming US President Barack Obama began prosecuting ‘the right war’, he faced what many observers believe is an unwinnable situation, with beleaguered US soldiers propping up a corrupt regime and ineffectual local military from Kabul while the Taliban consolidates gains throughout much of the rest of the country. As if to prove the maxim that generals always fight the last war, the approaches that worked (sort of) in Iraq have been imported almost wholesale–think ‘COIN’ and ‘surge’–and supported by Obama in an unconvincing plan announced after much cogitation late in 2009. With the support of Pakistani intelligence, the US has at least had some notable successes in strikes against the al-Qaeda leadership, with the first-ever widespread (and controversial) deployment of unmanned aircraft. There’s too much at stake here for Washington to contemplate an easy exit, and Obama’s call for a 2011 drawdown may be unrealistic. All of which means US Vice President Joe Biden’s preference for a more narrowly defined strategy in the region–just go after al-Qaeda–could look more attractive as the new decade goes on.

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Comments
Vlad January 12, 2010

You are jumping the gun. The first decade of this century ends December 31st 2010.

Don January 14, 2010

Ah, but you wouldn’t consider 1990 to be apart of the 80s, would you?
There was no year “0″, yes, so one may be tempted to say that we do have a year until the “00s” are up. However, seeing as a decade can arbitrarily be any stretch of ten years, it ultimately boils down to personal preference (notwithstanding the fact that we haven’t officially entered the 201st decade). So, yes, we haven’t technically made it into the next decade. But, once again, I wouldn’t consider 1990 to be apart of the 80s. And so, as far as I, and possibly most people, care, we have entered the “10s”, and left the “00s.”

Ashley Gavin January 15, 2010

I don’t see how neither the war in Iraq nor 911 made it to this list…

Xilantro January 15, 2010

Vlad is right – what’s the difference, though? Living in the strikingly stupid and un-democratic US, the 99-year century was no surprise, and moving decades up one for the new millenium makes as much sense as having the electoral college install the wrong guy in the presidency because Fox news announced his victory before votes were counted (that would be Bush) or calling the slaughter of 1m Iraqis a ‘war’ – Welcome to idiocracy! ;-)

Joe January 16, 2010

The 9/11 attack is, without a doubt, the most important event of this decade.

Robin January 16, 2010

Ashley/Joe- Actually, I think this story is called APAC: Top 10 Stories of the Decade for a reason. APAC. It is only concerned with the Asia-Pacific region which would exclude both New York and Iraq.

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