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It’s time to end America’s war in Afghanistan

 

Achild born on this date in 2001 – just before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – is old enough to be fighting today in the war in Afghanistan. This week – almost 17 years after the war began – the Taliban attacked Ghazni, killing more than 100 Afghan army soldiers. The Taliban also overran a base, where they killed another 17 soldiers.

It’s not hard to imagine that some of the fighters on both sides of this week’s battles – those fighting for the Afghan army and the Taliban – were not yet born on 9/11.

As America’s longest war continues in Afghanistan, it is sapping America’s resources and strategic focus while the list of far more serious national security threats – from climate change to the rise of China – continues to grow. It is time to find a way to wind down America’s war in Afghanistan, one way or another.

The United States remains stuck in strategic limbo in Afghanistan. No matter how many allied forces deploy to Afghanistan, there is no victory to be had on the battlefield. But Afghanistan is where the 9/11 attacks were planned. This is a fact that imprisons US presidents and policymakers – imagine being the president who withdrew US troops from Afghanistan, only to then suffer another terrorist attack on US soil planned in Afghanistan. There is no good option.

And so, America fights. As the reporter CJ Chivers describes America’s current policies in Afghanistan: “They continue today without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as if distant war is a presumed government action.”

While the US and its allies continue to send young men and women to fight and die, certain facts remain constant: the Taliban are not going anywhere. Terrorists are not going anywhere – 17 years later, the Islamic State has joined al-Qaida as a threat. The Afghan state will not achieve a level of “stability” that will put American policymakers at ease in the foreseeable future.  Read More

 

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