The High Costs of a Precipitous US Withdrawal from Afghanistan

The High Costs of a Precipitous US Withdrawal from Afghanistan
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As we enter into a new decade, America has been at war in Afghanistan for almost twenty years — the longest conflict in U.S. history. What started in the immediate aftermath of the al Qaeda terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as a counterterrorism mission has morphed into something more ambitious but less well defined and, ultimately, less successful.

The costs have been staggering — more than 2,000 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan, over 15,000 have been injured, and — according to some estimates — U.S. spending may have totaled over $2 trillion.

Americans — from foreign policy elites in Washington to the general public — understandably want to see this chapter brought to a close. But history warns of the consequences when the United States leaves a conflict precipitously before the foundations for an acceptable political settlement are in place. In 1975, when the U.S. military withdrew fully from Vietnam, communist forces quickly overran a weak South Vietnamese government. If the Taliban were to sweep similarly to victory, harrowing human rights abuses could follow, and all our investments of blood and treasure could be undone.

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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