Thousands of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom and several other nations are struggling on in Afghanistan, with the Americans and British in particular suffering heavy casualties. But why are they there, and what are they trying to achieve?

Former U.S. President George W. Bush had no doubts on the matter. America (with its allies, or alone if necessary) was going into Afghanistan, he proclaimed, to hunt down Osama bin Laden and destroy al-Qaida.

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