What started out as an understandable response against terrorist groups operating out of Afghanistan that launched attacks on the United States has transformed into a longest -running overseas war in American history.
The Vietnam War lasted about 10 years; U.S. involvement in World War II about four years; the U.S. Civil War lasted four years. The United States is now in its 15th year of war in Afghanistan.
Now the President has decided to retain almost 10,000 U.S. troops there now and a large number after he leaves office in 2016.
There have been about 3,500 coalition casualties in Afghanistan, including almost 2,300 Americans. Over 20,000 Americans have been wounded
Last year, the Congressional Research Service estimated that the cost of the war in Afghanistan was $686 billion. A more complete estimate of the costs of both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq puts them between $4 and $6 trillion, including long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, Harvard economist Linda Bilmes calculated in 2013.
The President has said “I think Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them.” The President should similarly learn that lesson.
Moreover, while our men and women in uniform are immensely capable, it is a war that the United States cannot win. Whatever the situation in Afghanistan is, whatever the recent events there, there simply is no military solution American troops can achieve. More troops, more time, more money, more casualties will simply not bring the war to a close.
U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan should be terminated promptly.