Vict—Oh, Wait.

Seven Times the Taliban Was Supposedly Defeated

The group just toppled an Afghan city—years after its defeat was first declared. From Condoleezza Rice calling it ‘eliminated’ to W. dubbing it ‘destroyed,’ seven premature obituaries.


The Taliban had a good week.

After months of attempts, fighters from the group overtook the northern Afghan provincial capital of Kunduz, marking the Taliban’s first capture of a city since 2001. “Death to America! Death to the slaves of America!” one of the fighters shouted in his exuberance.

It was an especially victorious occasion for the group because the Taliban has been declared dead so many times. But like the namesake villains of The Walking Dead, they have risen and risen again, much to the chagrin of both President George W. Bush and his administration, who could have sworn the Taliban was long gone.

April 2002, Condoleezza Rice: “With the Taliban eliminated and al Qaeda badly damaged, we have moved into the second stage of our war on terror.”

July 2002, George W. Bush (PDF): In Afghanistan we defeated the Taliban regime, but that was just the first step.”

September 2002, George W. Bush: “The Taliban’s ability to brutalize the Afghan people and to harbor and support terrorists has been virtually eliminated.”

May 2003, George W. Bush: “In the battle of Afghanistan, nations from central and eastern Europe supplied soldiers and special forces and peacekeepers to help defeat the Taliban, to help destroy the terrorists and to bring freedom to the Afghan people.”

September 2004, George W. Bush: “And as a result of the United States military, the Taliban no longer is in existence. And the people of Afghanistan are now free.”

December 2004, George W. Bush: In Afghanistan, America and our allies, with a historically small force and a brilliant strategy, defeated the Taliban in just a few short weeks.”

October 2005, George W. Bush: Over the years, these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia or the defeat of the Taliban or the Crusades of a thousand years ago.”

But eventually, even Bush didn’t believe Bush.

December 2008, George W. Bush:The Taliban was brutalizing the people of Afghanistan. And they’re not in power. And I just cited the progress that is undeniable. Now, is there more work to be done? You bet. I never said the Taliban was eliminated, I said they were removed from power.”

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