The Total Bill For US ‘Stalemate’ In Afghanistan Is Staggering

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The top U.S. Army commander in Afghanistan confessed to Congress earlier this week that the conflict with the Taliban remains at an impasse, an incredible admission given the staggering bill racked up over the last 15 years.

“I believe we’re in a stalemate,” Army Gen. John W. Nicholson told Senate Committee on Armed Services Chairman John McCain.

McCain had asked Nicholson for a direct answer Thursday on whether the U.S. was winning or losing the fight, which has raged on and off since 2001.

And yet, the total bill for the war is enormous. According to an analysis by Micah Zenko at the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. has close to $900 billion in taxpayer funds since 2001. Since 2001, 2,350 U.S. troops have died. There are 8,400 U.S. troops still stationed in Afghanistan.

In fact, former President Barack Obama’s attempt to boost security in the region in 2009 by sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan has completely failed. The Taliban flourished in the chaotic environment and regained territory. As recently as December, U.S. resolute support command said that the Taliban control about 10 percent of the Afghan population and are challenging the U.S. for control over 20 percent.

There were 11,418 civilian deaths in 2016, a sizable increase from 7,162 in 2010.

In other words, the Taliban has control of more territory now than it has at any other time since 9/11, a stunning indictment of U.S. progress in Afghanistan.

For Nicholson, the reason the fight is now more or less at a stalemate is because Russia and Iran have been providing aid to the Taliban. And while he has enough resources to continue the fight, vanishing numbers of Afghan troops are making the prospect of a renewed assault on the Taliban increasingly difficult.

Nicholson added that troop shortages could be filled by an influx of new servicemembers from the United States and other allies.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer implied on Thursday that President Donald Trump intends to take seriously Nicholson’s recommendations on the situation.

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