[US forces have now stayed longer in Afghanistan than the Soviet army during Moscow's ill-fated intervention...
"When the Soviets came in, everybody wanted to fight against them," admits General Nur al-Haq Ulumi, a powerful leader under the Communist regime, who was military commander for the whole of southern Afghanistan. He adds that, in complete contrast, "when the Americans arrived in 2001, everybody supported them and nobody wanted to fight them."
The popularity of the Americans and their foreign allies has not lasted. They are increasingly blamed by Afghans for the continued violence and as sponsors and protectors of a deeply unpopular government. As the US, Britain and almost 50 other states reach their 10th year of military action in Afghanistan, the dilemmas facing them resemble the problems that the Soviet army wrestled with a quarter of a century ago.
The Soviet Union and the US both proved unable to break a military stalemate in which they occupied the cities and towns, but were unable to crush an Islamic and nationalist rebellion in the countryside, where three-quarters of Afghans still live. Geography has not changed. Today, as in the 1980s, the guerrillas cannot be conclusively defeated so long as they can move backwards and forwards across the 1,600-mile border with Pakistan and enjoy the support (open in the case of the Soviets; covert in the case of the Americans) of the Pakistani army.] emphasis added