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The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for more than seventeen years. Despite many years of effort and billions spent, the U.S. military is still suffering casualties in that remote land. In 2017, fourteen American soldiers died in Afghanistan — some, in fact, shot from behind by their supposed local allies. Already, through January 2019, two more American troopers have been killed. They were the 2,418th and 2,419th U.S. military deaths in the war since 2001.
None of this sacrifice has defeated the Taliban or staved off enemy military advances throughout the country over the last several years. In fact, there have been a number of spectacular Taliban successes and attacks of late. On August 21, 2018, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s speech in the heavily fortified capital city of Kabul was interrupted by dozens of mortar rounds fired by the Taliban. It was no mere anecdotal anomaly.
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In fact, August 2018 was the bloodiest August in terms of Afghan security-force casualties in any of the past 39 years of persistent war. In one district, 100 Afghan commandoes — the pride of the U.S. advisory effort — were slaughtered. In a five-day battle for the city of Ghazni, 100 more soldiers and police were killed, along with 150 civilians, when the Taliban massed 1,000 fighters to rush and briefly seize the city. At least 350 other Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) members were killed this past August. Massive high-casualty Taliban attacks proliferated throughout 2018, and have continued in the new year, with more than 100 Afghan troops killed in a single attack on January 22, 2019. Such casualty levels are, frankly, unsustainable.
To say the least, the war is not going well. That became inevitable the moment the United States initiated its “nation-building” strategy in 2002, and has remained the...
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