In a dismissive observation,the UK Foreign Office rejected a report from SENLIS about the state of Afghanistan in 2006. The SENLIS paper puts into perspective the failure of the international community's efforts, led largely by the US and the UK, to get even close to achieving what they set out to achieve in 2001.
Below is the Executive Summary, but it's worth reading the entire paper. It can be downloaded in chapers (pdf) here
Collapsing security and return of Taliban
Five years after their removal from power, the Taliban is back and has strong psychological and de facto military control over half of Afghanistan. Having assumed responsibility for the country in 2001, the United States-led international community has failed to achieve stability and security in Afghanistan. Attacks are perpetrated on a daily basis; several provinces, particularly those of the South, considered safe just weeks ago, are now experiencing regular suicide bombings, murders, and ambushes.
The international military coalitions in Afghanistan – the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – are fuelling resentment and fear among the Afghan population. The distinctions between the two are extremely blurred, with the NATO-led ISAF now constantly engaged in war operations. Afghans see the international military coalitions as taking sides in a civil war situation, and as NATO-ISAF troops retreat to their fortified military compounds in southern Afghanistan, locals perceive that the Taliban-led insurgents are once again defeating global military powers.
Failure to address Afghanistan’s extreme poverty fuelling support for Taliban
After five years of international donor pledges to provide resources and assistance to Afghanistan, Afghans are starving to death, and there is evidence that poverty is driving support for the Taliban. Prioritising military-based security, the United States’ and United Kingdom’s focus on counter-terrorism initiatives and militaristic responses to Afghanistan’s opium crisis has undermined the local and international development community’s abilities to respond to Afghanistan’s many poverty-related challenges.
US and UK counter-narcotics strategies have accelerated and compounded all of Afghanistan’s problems
By focusing aid funds away from development and poverty relief, failed counter-narcotics policies have hijacked the international community’s nation-building efforts in the country and undermined Afghanistan’s democratically elected government. Poppy cultivation is a food survival strategy for millions of Afghans, and the United States’ and United Kingdom-led poppy eradication policies are fuelling violence and insecurity.
Afghan central government legitimacy and effectiveness undermined by US-led international community’s approaches in Afghanistan
Five years of internationally lauded democracy-building achievements in Afghanistan mask the growing scepticism with which Afghans view their central government. Increasingly, Afghans perceive that their government is accountable to international donors, and not to the Afghans themselves. In establishing democratic institutions, the international community raised expectations high, yet stood back as the United States and United Kingdom undercut the Afghan government’s ability to deliver on these expectations by forcing the adoption and implementation of militaristic counter-narcotics policies. Failed counter-narcotics policies have undermined the legitimacy of the Afghan government. Nation-building sequencing in wrong order
Massive international expenditure on security illustrates that right from 2001, the international community’s priorities for Afghanistan were not in line with those of the Afghan population. Rather, for the past five years, the US-led international community has prioritised military-focused security over the relief of Afghans’ extreme poverty and economic instability. Military expenditure outpaces development and reconstruction spending by 900%. An intensive and extended focus on relieving the poverty of Afghans could have created a solid foundation on which to re-build Afghanistan. Instead, because the fight against poverty has not been prioritised, the international community’s democracy-building efforts are collapsing as Afghans starve.