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  • Ryan Wittler

America’s Longest War is Ending


Over the past week, the U.S. has begun the withdrawal of its forces and handed over control of its military bases in Afghanistan to the Afghans, effectively bringing a quiet end to the war that outlasted the first three presidents of the 21st century. How we got here: On October 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, a response to the 9/11 attacks and beginning the War on Terror. What followed was a 20-year conflict resulting in some 2,400 American troops who died and another 20,000 who were injured. The U.S. has spent a staggering $2.26 trillion on the war in the last two decades, and since we borrowed so heavily to start the thing, we’ve paid some $530 billion in interest in that time. We’ve also paid around $296 billion in medical and other care costs for veterans. What’s next: For Afghans, the war continues. Taliban insurgency groups have been making battlefield gains, and peace talks between the two sides have stalled. A small Afghan affiliate of ISIS also lurks in the country. For the U.S., while the vast majority of our troops will be moved out, a couple hundred will remain to protect the U.S. Embassy and Kabul airport. The U.S. will also retain power to defend Afghan forces until at least September, including with airstrikes, if necessary.

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