The United States in Afghanistan

U.S. military forces entered Afghanistan in late 2001, a few months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The U.S. and its allies drove the Taliban from power, and curtailed al Qaeda's efforts to plan and execute terrorist attacks. These gains, along with the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, have come with large costs—including the death of more than two thousand U.S. soldiers.

Today, the Afghanistan War—one of the longest in U.S. history—is winding down, leaving open a host of questions. Without tens of thousands of U.S. combat troops on the ground, will Afghanistan witness a Taliban resurgence? Should some U.S. forces be kept in Afghanistan? Can the United States and Afghanistan implement a long-term security deal? What are the ripple effects of an American withdrawal for Afghanistan's security, economic development, and democratic transition? The United States in Afghanistan grapples with these questions, and introduces students to the central debates and issues facing U.S. foreign policymakers.

2014 will be critical in determining the future trajectory of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. The United States in Afghanistan takes a look at the issues at hand through primary source documents, readings, and new media sources.

Introduction: Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Part I: Afghanistan's People and History

Part II: The Soviet Invasion and the Rise of the Taliban

Part III: Afghanistan and Pakistan After 9/11/2001

Day One Lesson: The Geography of Afghanistan

Day One Optional Lesson: Looking at Afghanistan

Day Two Lesson: Life Under the Taliban

Day Two Optional Lesson: The Cold War and the Soviet Invasion

Day Three: The Three Options: Organization and Preparation

Day Five Lesson: The Costs of War

Optional Lesson: Voices from Afghanistan

Featured Scholars

David Edwards photo
Williams College
Jennifer Fluri photo
Dartmouth College
Mark Garrison photo
Brown University
Benjamin Hopkins photo
George Washington University