What David Warren writes in Afghanistan : Essays in Idleness I knew by noon on 9/11:
Whether it was the Americans, in Asia, or the Romans, in remote Europe, it is difficult for any mostly civilized military force to defeat or tame a barbaric enemy. This must be attempted, from time to time.
It is not sufficient to imprison this sort of enemy. As a practical matter, he must instead be killed, both to remove him definitively from the theatre of conflict, and to terrify survivors, thus make them compliant. Modern, Western, post-Christian man has failed to do this even in imagination.
The principle of “mercy” does not come into it. We were fighting to the death against a mortal enemy. Any relaxation on our part would appear as weakness, and weakness costs lives.
The war lasted twenty years, less a few weeks, counting from 9/11. The United States (and allies) once again established their incoherence in battle. A coherent strategy would have ended in victory in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the intimidation of any potential enemies thoughout the “Middle East.” This result was almost available to the George Bush regime, but was sacrificed to maintain several childish illusions about democracy and the rule-of-law, where neither had ever existed.
Foreign wars, against barbaric savages, can be fought and won. Publicity should be avoided, as it has been in all successful encounters of this sort, since history began. We cannot afford to “pull punches.”
It is a myth that Afghans were unwilling to accommodate Western ways of life, or that Muslim fanatics cannot be defeated. The former, like most men, can be governed by fear, when that is what is left to motivate them; and the latter through annihilation.