The war in Afghanistan, phase two

In the third section of this chapter, we focus on the evolution of attitudes on the conflict in Afghanistan and compare support for this conflict on both sides of the Atlantic. The first phase of the war in Afghanistan went rather smoothly for the United States. Together with its local allies, they succeeded before the end of 2001 to remove the Taliban government. A new central government, under President Karzai, was installed with UN blessing and widespread international support. An international military force, ISAF, mandated by the UN and implemented by NATO, would assist the new government in asserting its authority. Initially, many countries and particularly the NATO allies subscribed to this effort and the war was successfully internationalized. The UN also took some responsibility and added legitimacy to the operations. ISAF operated next to the continuing Operation Enduring Freedom, carried out by the US to remove the final strongholds of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

In a sense, proponents of the war and a considerable segment of the Anglo-American media were initially successful in framing the military operations in Afghanistan as 'the good war' in contradistinction to the generally unpopular war in Iraq. In principle, there was considerable sympathy with the policy of the US to try to reduce the military power of the Taliban and restore stability in Afghanistan and thus to reduce if not eliminate the danger that new terrorist attacks would be mounted from this country.

Initially, all of this contributed to create and sustain considerable support in American (and European) public opinion. This was soon to change as supportt diminished at a rapid and general pace.

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