Seventeen years into the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, Americans remains dejected, disappointed, pessimistic and non-supportive of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
These questions remain unanswered as we enter into the 18th year of this boondoggle:
(1) What are United States’ goals in Afghanistan? What constitutes success for U.S., NATO and Afghanistan forces?
(2) Who is the enemy in Afghanistan? Is it ISIS, Taliban or both? And, enemies of whom and enemies of what?
(3) How many U.S. troops need to stay in Afghanistan for how long and to accomplish exactly what?
(4) How to train Afghan forces better? How to train them better so they die in much less numbers when fighting against Taliban and ISIS?
(5) How to neutralize the problem of insider attacks by Afghan soldiers against U.S. and NATO-coalition soldiers?
(6) What is the United States’ strategic plan (if any) to end the war in Afghanistan?
(7) Is U.S. Defense Department in charge of the Afghanistan mission or the U.S. State Department diplomatic corps?
(8) U.S. Congress appropriated $126+billion dollars for Afghanistan reconstruction since Fiscal Year 2002 – this large amount, when adjusted for inflation, exceeds the total U.S. commitment under Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II. What did we get in return for this financial commitment over 17 years?
(9) What did we get in return for the $750+billion U.S. military spent on the Afghanistan military mission over the last 17 years?
(10) What did we get in return for this steep human cost in the form of 2400 U.S. military fatalities, more than 1100 NATO-led coalition fatalities and tens of thousands of Afghan deaths?
Nothing will change in Afghanistan for years to come. Absolutely nothing. The only question is when we will recognize it and re-calibrate accordingly.