ABSTRACT

This chapter begins with an exploration of the post-Cold War 1990s’ environment in Washington and Afghanistan. It proceeds to elucidate on the Bush administration’s successful use of narrative to strategically shape the terms of debate following the 9/11 attacks and the impact this had on US policy towards Afghanistan. In the direct aftermath of 9/11, the Bush presidency managed to gain support from Congress and the mass media for its counterterrorism approach. As is demonstrated, the Bush administration constructed a ‘global war on terrorism’, which had a significant role in its approach to the Greater Middle East. A major new paradigm came into existence, and it was through this lens that subsequent campaigns and foreign policy decisions were taken. In this way, the relevance of attempting to destroy Al-Qaeda and routing the Taliban became Washington’s accepted wisdom. The chapter also illustrates how a subsequent focus on Iraq diverted attention (and resources) from Afghanistan. This would have repercussions for the Bush administration’s successor.