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While many empire builders and nations have fought their own Afghanistan War, this article is primarily focused on the 2001 invasion by the United States, since the others are all history now.
When the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, Afghanistan was under a brutal theocratic government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (better known as the Taliban), which was engaging in some activities that were quite unpopular in the rest of the world, such as blowing up the Buddhas of Bamyan — 1500-year-old Buddha statues — on the grounds that they were idols, and stoning aluterous couples.
U.S., British, and German investigations all pointed to Osama bin Laden as the culprit behind 9/11. Osama being based in Afghanistan at that time — or perhaps Pakistan, but even the Taliban did not seem to be able to tell the difference — the U.S. contacted the Taliban and demanded that bin Laden be handed over. The Taliban refused, citing Islamic hospitality requirements. The U.S. invaded, toppled the Taliban, and set up a slightly more moderate government headed by Hamid Karzai. It took 10 years after that for the U.S. to track down Osama, whom they eventually found in Pakistan; in the interim, in 2004, he made so bold as to claim responsibility for 9/11.
Hamid Karzai's government has to date shown itself rather incompetent in running the country, with the Taliban and other insurgents engaging in a guerrilla war from bases in the remote mountainous regions of neighboring Pakistan. After the end of Bush's second term as president, Barack Obama inherited the war, and the United States and NATO made a major forward step when American forces killed Osama bin Laden in mid-2011. There are now plans to withdraw troops over the next few years.
 Previous fiascos in the region
- The Soviet Union embroiled themselves in a decade-long war there, which is often considered their Viet Nam.
- The United Kingdom also wasted much blood and gold there.
- Genghis Khan stopped by for a brief sojourn at one point.
- Freshly Islamized Arabians made a holy-war to convert Afghanistan. It took them over 200 years to finish the job.
- Even Alexander the Great couldn't tame the place.
 The moral of the story
Never get involved in a land war in Asia.