4:41 PM CDT, March 13, 2013
Over 11 years, the United States has expended more than 2,000 lives and $620 billion fighting the war in Afghanistan and supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai. And what have we accomplished?
You can get an idea from Karzai's statement Sunday claiming that the U.S. is working with the Taliban to create chaos in order to justify extending our stay in his country. Taliban bombings over the weekend, he said, "aimed to prolong the presence of the American forces in Afghanistan.”
Maybe Karzai is delusional. Or maybe he's just politically shrewd and determined to exploit widespread distrust of the Americans. An Afghan businessman close to Karzai says the president "wants to be remembered as the guy who kicked out the 'foreigners' -- in this case, the Americans."
Either way, his claim underlines the futility of our efforts there. Instead of winning hearts and minds to the cause of democracy, we've pushed Afghans toward the enemy. And the longer we stay, the worse things get.
Nor are things going well on the military front. The most National Intelligence Director James Clapper would venture yesterday at a House hearing is that "the Taliban-led insurgency has diminished in some areas of Afghanistan but remains resilient and capable of challenging US and international goals." Not quite what we had in mind, is it?
But even after we've largely withdrawn, we'll still be paying. The federal Government Accountability Office estimates we'll shell out another $25 billion over the next five years to shore up the Afghan police and army, which still can't stand on their own.
Afghanistan was a place we had to go to make sure 9/11 never happened again. But once that was done, it's clear, we should have gone home. The eventual outcome probably won't be much different from what it would have been without this long and costly war.
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