ABSTRACT

The chapter elucidates on how the Obama administration shifted its policy narrative and practices towards Afghanistan from 2011 onwards. The chapter argues that the Obama administration’s selling of its Afghan policy provided the space for an evolving approach. This policy narrative involved the ‘existential threat’ of transnational militant actors operating out of an Afghanistan-Pakistan ungoverned space being downgraded to a ‘containable’ one. Three key reasons prompted this change: the administration’s discursive decoupling of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the changing perception that the threat posed by ‘Al Qaeda and its Affiliates’ was a decentralised one and the United States had changed its conception of Afghanistan as a ‘safe haven’ for transnational terrorists. The chapter also explores the evolving aspect of a purer form of counterterrorism and the changing nature of US policy towards Afghanistan with the exit of US/ISAF combat troops at the end of 2014.