The Lesson We Must Learn from Afghanistan


Late last week, President Obama announced that he would not move forward with the complete withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan by the end of 2016, as previously planned.

This is a devastating blow.

The U.S. has already spent an astounding $716 billion on war in Afghanistan alone, plus countless more lives lost and derailed, not to mention the long-term investment necessary to care for our veterans who return from conflict.

The administration has not articulated clearly what the remaining troops will accomplish or how they can change the situation when a much bigger troop presence failed to do so. We must not chase elusive military success with so much at stake. With our federal budget burdened by these endless wars, and many pressing domestic needs here at home, we must think critically about how to move forward, especially when polling shows Americans would like to see more investment in social and economic priorities. The U.S. has been at war for the last fifteen years, with little to show for it. It’s long past time we made wiser choices and invest here at home.

The stakes are even higher than what becomes of Afghanistan. As debate continues over the heartbreaking situation in Syria and the historic Iran deal, we must not let the lessons of Afghanistan escape us: wars are much easier to start than to end. And there is no such thing as a guaranteed outcome when it comes to war.