“Extraordinary Sacrifices”: We don’t need to lose any more of our precious resources in Afghanistan.

Mathew Hoh – Director, Afghanistan Study Group
Clarissa F. Griebel – Afghanistan Study Group

For almost ten years the United States has been in Afghanistan. On Saturday, our forces there suffered the single largest loss of life in one day.  Just a few weeks after the President’s announcement that a withdrawal of 30,000 troops would begin this year, 30 American troops were lost when Taliban forces shot down a Chinook transport helicopter.  In addition, to U.S. casualties, which included Navy Seal Commandos, one civilian interpreter and seven Afghan commandos were also killed in the attack.  What are we still doing in Afghanistan?

We continue to make, in the words of President Obama,  “extraordinary sacrifices”, in Afghanistan.  Our national debt is at 14 trillion and change, the war costs us approximately 2 billion dollars a week, and we have lost 1727 lives with over 13,000 physically wounded.

And what of the additional costs for caring for our wounded troops?   An unknown number of veterans suffer from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder and countless military families have been torn apart.  There are estimates that we will spend between 3.7 and 4.4 Trillion dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.   All of this, for a country that has a GDP of 15 billion dollars, and whose people do not want us there.

In addition, according to the White House, there has not been an al-Qaeda threat from Afghanistan to the United States for seven or eight years.  We are fighting the Taliban who according to Paul Pillar of The National Interest:

There is no end in sight to the violence in Afghanistan.  In the past twenty-four hours another NATO helicopter has made a “hard landing” in southeastern Afghanistan.  In the past month there have been several high profile assassinations in Afghanistan, including Kandahar’s Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi and half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s,  Ahmed Wali Karzai.  This year the civilian death toll in Afghanistan is at its’ highest since the United Nations began keeping track in 2007.  Given the seemingly endless and escalating violence in Afghanistan it is time for American troops to come home.  They are too valuable to be spent on a war that is not in our strategic interests in a country that does not threaten the American people.

The special operations commandos and air crew our country lost on Saturday are the finest warriors the world has ever known.  They were men who readily gave their lives for their country without question or hesitation, as did the 255 other Americans who have been killed in Afghanistan this year.  As a country, we need to have the courage and the honesty to say that the United States mission in Afghanistan is not worthy of those sacrifices. We don’t need to lose any more of our precious resources in Afghanistan.

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