American Foreign Policy on the War Against Terrorism

Executive Summary

This policy brief’s primary issue is to establish the policy option that is best suited to serve the interest of Afghanistan and the United States in the war against terrorism. September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led President Bush to authorize the US army to invade Afghanistan. This strategy has won a victory over the terrorist but at the cost of more than 2,400 death of US soldiers and $137 billion of taxpayer money. The number of illegal forces has also continued to increase in number. President Donald Trump initiated discussions that resulted in the signing of the US-Taliban Agreement on February 29, 2020. This policy has its drawbacks; hence, other alternatives include the tri-nation treaty between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, unequivocal policy, and a counter-insurgency approach. The most suitable option is the tri-nation treaty because it deals with terrorists from both its roots in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Introduction and Problem Statement

Afghanistan has long been the center of the United States Counterterrorism concerns. The country is the host of the Al Qaeda activists who has been responsible for mass killings in many nations. For almost two decades, the American force was authorized to invade the country to end the Islamic extremist terror groups. After years of operation, the American mission and strategy were no longer effective as more resources were being underutilized.

President Donald Trump decided to initiate a policy that would resolve the differences between the two countries. The proposal for a system that would end terror while boosting friendly relations was attractive to President Ashraf Ghani, who wanted to shift focus to development projects (Kaura, 2017). The negotiation process was thus initiated and ended in the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, which will be the focus of this paper. Research studies, political negations, and advice led to the development of the most recent blueprint for Trump’s government in realizing the security of the country. The U.S.-Taliban Agreement was finally settled on February 29, 2020 (Clayton, 2020). The covenant has already started to raise doubts about its effectiveness due to potential obstacles between the Taliban-Afghan government. The research question that will guide this policy brief is which of the policy options is best suited to serve the interest of Afghanistan and the United States in the war against terrorism.

There are other options for alternative laws which will be suitable to satisfy the security needs of America. The first one is a multi-state conditional strategy between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The other choice, as suggested by Ullah & Khan (2018), is unequivocal policy. There is also a substitute for a counter-insurgency approach involving civilians to join in establishing peace. This paper is relevant for lawmakers as it provides recommendations for initiatives for national and international security.

Background: The History of the Issue and Its Context

International threats that result in violation of human rights can attract global war if not addressed satisfactorily. Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the congress, under the presidency of George Bush, allowed the use of military force to fight the al-Qaida group (Magsamen & Fuchs, 2019). The authorization led to US forces invading Afghanistan and strategically incapacitating its functions. The secretary-general, Mike Pompeo, concluded that the Islamic extremist group is now significantly weakened to the point that it poses no threat (Idrees, 2017). Terrorist casualties and general destructions have been reduced and most notorious leaders have been killed or imprisoned.

The efforts to stop such attacks have been costly to taxpayers and the lives of the brave men and women who went to war. According to Clayton (2020), approximately 2,400 US militants have died in Afghanistan, and $137 billion have been spent in this struggle. Goepner (2016) observed that in 2000 there were 32,200 terror fighters, and by 2013 the number had tripled to 110,000 despite the US initiatives. Strategic policies are thus better options since this foreign nation is a major power that is of interest to other countries such as China, Russia, Pakistan, and India which are strategically working to dwarf the progress of the United States (Potolincă, 2019). Having a peaceful relation with Afghanistan will be beneficial to America not just for the sake of ending terror but also for other developments such as trade.

President Trump took a political settlement approach in ending terrorism atrocities. In a speech that he made in August 2017, the focus was on achieving effective military effort in the reconciliation process (Clayton, 2020). However, the head of state failed to elaborate on the goals of the United States in these negotiations. For the Afghani government, the policy was expected to stabilize the regime, receive assistance from the US, remove the militants from its territory, and renew commitment for security and peace (Kaura 2017). The expectations, as stated by Clayton (2020), were merged in the U.S.-Taliban Agreement was signed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (deputy political leader of Taliban and Khalilzad (special representative). There were many international observers that witnessed the signing of this document.

As expected, both sides were to make some commitments and sacrifices which were mutually beneficial. The United States promised that within 135 days, it will reduce its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 and decrease the allied forces (Clayton, 2020). The other condition for America was that it would facilitate prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Taliban, on the other hand, committed itself to preventing Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization from using threatening the United States and its army. Within this requirement, the expectation was that there will be no recruitment, fundraising, or training by the Islamic extremist groups. It was also revealed that there were sections of the Agreement that were sealed from the public as confidential verification procedures. According to Ullah & Khan (2018), when America withdrew its forces from Afghanistan in 1990, it made a mistake that probably catalyzed 9/11. Given the history of this measure being unfruitful, the Agreement could be a significant mistake.

Alternative Policy Responses

One of the possible policies is to form a treaty between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The rationale is that there is a deep connection between the extremist groups in the two latter countries. In 1988, when the Soviet forces withdrew all their troops from Afghanistan, and the United States stopped taking any interest in the country, the terrorist moved to the eastern borders of Pakistan and India (Ullah & Khan, 2018). The consequence was that latter was threatened due to ties between the latter and Afghanistan. In 2014, Al Qaeda shifted most of its operations to Pakistan (Mir, 2020). Most of the training and recruitment of the terror groups are funded and operated in the latter country. Thus, to ensure peace an agreement needs to be between the three countries. This approach has a disadvantage since Pakistan and Afghanistan already have a strong tie and may liaise secretly, not to follow the commitments.

The unequivocal policy between the US and Afghanistan may be relevant in resolving the current strife. In contrast to the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, which uses the Taliban as an intermediary, this policy should be strictly between the two governments. According to Ullah & Khan (2018), Afghanistan often labels the Taliban with derogatory language such as “country’s enemies” (p.60). This implies that it will be complicated to achieve the current expectations. An unequivocal approach will focus on forgetting past errors and starting a new, mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. As stated by Magsamen & Fuchs (2019), ending the war should not be the focus of America; instead, the objective is the enhancement of diplomatic commitments. Resultantly, financial support to the Afghan government to stabilize its administration is relevant for the success of this policy. The shortcoming of this approach is that it requires the United States to make a significant monetary commitment to support the foreign nation, which may be burdensome to American taxpayers.

There is also the counter-insurgency approach, which actively involves the civilian. Teitler (2020) recognizes that the previous administration which was headed by President Barack Obama aimed to end the terrorist threat in Afghanistan by directly involving the citizens. Teitler (2020) states that the policy aims to ensure that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups do not find a safe place to commit their operations. The United States will have to convince the public that they are not enemies, and their objective is to achieve peace for both countries. This policy recommendation will, therefore, involve the creation of awareness and building trust with the citizens. The rationale for this alternative is that the terrorist are recruited from civilians, and the people know about their plans. The role of individuals will, therefore, be to give intelligence to terrorists. The natives will also be sensitized against joining any of the atrocity groups during recruitment. The main drawback of this alternative is that there is a possibility of interferences with the internal affairs of the nation and a perception of incapacitating the government.


All the policy options have their strengths and shortcomings, which makes selection dilemmatic. Nonetheless, the alternative with the highest chance of establishing lasting peace is the tri-nation treaty between the United States, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The rationale is that it will ensure that there are no grounds left for the extremist groups to organize and execute their crime, unlike the rest of the policies which are only focused on the former. The second-best choice is U.S.-Taliban Agreement which has been implemented by President Trump because it also promises to end terror in Afghanistan and achieve a peaceful relation. This option is rated in the second position because it ignores the fact that most terrorist activists in Afghanistan have operations in Pakistan. The third is unequivocal policy because it is a win-win decision. However, the government of the foreign country is unstable; hence, its commitments cannot be relied upon. The fourth position is the counter-insurgency approach because working with civilians of a foreign nation is unrealizable unless there are official representatives of the civilians. If such is implemented, they will colly with the ruling government and probably lead to internal wars.


Clayton, T. (2020). Afghanistan: Background and US Policy in Brief. Congressional Research Service, 1. Web.

Goepner, E. W. (2016). Measuring the effectiveness of America’s war on terror. Parameters, 46(1), 107-120. Web.

Idrees, M. (2017). Afghanistan a battle ground for the interests of super powers: A special reference to USA. Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs, 5(2), 245. Web.

Kaura, V. (2017). The trump administration’s afghan policy: Implications for regional security. The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs, 26(3), 92-108. Web.

Magsamen, K., & Fuchs, M. (2019). The case for a new U.S. relationship with Afghanistan. Center for American Progress. Web.

Mir, A. (2020). Afghanistan’s terrorism challenge: The political trajectories of al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, and the Islamic State. Middle East Institute. Web.

Potolincă, C. M. (2019). The clash of stakeholders’ interests in the afghan peace process. Strategic Impact, (72), 29-45. Web.

Teitler, A. (2020). US policy towards Afghanistan, 1979-2014: ‘A force for good’. Routledge.

Ullah, R., & Khan, A. (2018). US-NATO Exit from Afghanistan: Challenges and Options. Pakistan Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies, 3(2), 51-64. Web.

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