Afghanistan is a nation in which the term “war weariness” doesn’t quite cover it. The nation spent a decade under a failed Soviet occupation in the 1980s which gave way to a decade of indecisive internal war, which itself has given way to an open-ended NATO occupation.
This weekend NATO’s Lisbon Summit centered around extending the current Afghan War through 2014 and likely long beyond. After almost a decade, it never seemed to occur to officials to even consider anything else. Domestic opinion in NATO nations has turned decisively against the war, but this is even more true in Afghanistan, where locals are just plain sick of watching other nations’ troops fail to occupy them.
“I don’t think NATO has done much good,” noted one Afghan contractor, “they are spending millions of dollars over here but I don’t see many signs of prosperity or anything that can change the people’s standard of life.”
And it doesn’t seem like that is likely to change any time soon. Officials see four or five more years of war as a “best case” scenario, and even then they don’t expect the situation to have considerably improved. For many Afghans the hope is that NATO is just going to get sick of failing and go, but NATO’s cheerful Lisbon Summit policy review and their new 10 year strategy suggest an almost bottomless appetite for spinning their wheels in Afghanistan, and points to many more years to come.