The tragedy of Afghanistan

After $83 billion and at least 2,448 American service members’ lives lost, it is difficult to see what of lasting significance has been achieved.

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Editorials

August 16, 2021 - 9:55 AM

Displaced Afghans arrive at a makeshift camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images/TNS)

The rapid reconquest of the capital, Kabul, by the Taliban after two decades of a staggeringly expensive, bloody effort to establish a secular government with functioning security forces in Afghanistan is, above all, unutterably tragic.

Tragic because the American dream of being the “indispensable nation” in shaping a world where the values of civil rights, women’s empowerment and religious tolerance rule proved to be just that: a dream.

This longest of American wars was code-named first Operation Enduring Freedom and then Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Yet after $83 billion and at least 2,448 American service members’ lives lost in Afghanistan, it is difficult to see what of lasting significance has been achieved.

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