The Taliban was pushed out of power and suffered great costs at our hands, al-Qaeda’s central branch is severely diminished, and Osama bin Laden is dead. However, the U.S. military effort shifted toward nation-building with no clear path to success or realistic connection to our safety. We should not equate Afghanistan with Iraq. Staying longer will not magically achieve the broad and unnecessary goals that have eluded us to date.
This mission creep has cost the lives of more than 2,300 Americans at a price of more than $1 trillion. Dozens of troops are killed or wounded every year, many troops have now endured double-digit deployments, and we are spending more than $45 billion annually on the war. While not as costly as earlier years of the war, these costs are not trivial, especially for the troops and their families who must bear them.
William Ruger, Arlington
The writer, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute.