Karzai suffered criticism for his statement [that security in Afghanistan was better between 2002 and 2006 than in 2012], but he was correct. The NATO surges into the south will almost certainly be remembered as a spectacular mistake. Many of the aims were noble: peace, democracy, rule of law. We thought that a sweeping program of armed nation-building might improve the lives of people in southern Afghanistan and simultaneously remove a haven for terrorism. Both of these guesses proved incorrect. Flooding the south with troops did not have a pacifying effect. The villagers were not, despite the assurances from experts, clamouring for the arrival of international forces. Many of them now hate the outside world more than ever. As the troops withdraw, they leave behind pockets of territory not controlled by the government of Afghanistan, and few guarantees that these will never again serve as incubators for international jihadists.
But how much guarantee did we need, that southern Afghanistan will not rever to a hideout for terrorists? I was never convinced that any military, no matter how large or capable, could roll into a swath of terrain and make sure that conspirators could never again use that location as a base for nefarious plots.
Smith, Graeme. The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan. Knopf Canada, Toronto. 2013. p. 278-9