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Chasing the pawn—neglecting the king
 
11/26/2020
 

A Catastrophic Failure of American Policy in Afghanistan

Chasing the pawn—neglecting the king

BY WARREN REINSCH

On December 9, the Washington Post released details about the Afghanistan Papers, a confidential trove of more than 2,000 pages of previously unpublished governmental documents. These documents, including 428 interviews, reveal how America’s divided approach and its failure to go after the real threat caused its strength in Afghanistan to be spent in vain.

"We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan—we didn’t know what we were doing," three-star Army General Douglas Lute, serving during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. "We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking."

He added that as a result of United States bureaucratic "dysfunction" in Afghanistan, thousands of Americans lost their lives "in vain." Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Afghanistan. According to U.S. Defense Department figures, 2,300 died and 20,589 were wounded in action. In the same period, the U.S. spent nearly $1 trillion, according to inflation-adjusted estimates.

"What did we get for this $1 trillion effort?" Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy seal, asked government interviewers. "After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan."

 
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