At almost nine years, the U.S. war in Afghanistan is the longest in our history, surpassing even the Vietnam War, and it will shortly surpass the Soviet Union’s own extended military campaign there. With the surge, it will cost the U.S. taxpayers nearly $100 billion per year, a sum roughly seven times larger than Afghanistan’s annual gross national product (GNP) of $14 billion and greater than the total annual cost of the new U.S. health insurance program. Thousands of American and allied personnel have been killed or gravely wounded.
The United States should by no means abandon Afghanistan, but it is time to abandon the current strategy that is not working. Trying to pacify Afghanistan by force of arms will not work, and a costly military campaign there is more likely to jeopardize America’s vital security interests than to protect them. The Study Group believes that the United States should pursue more modest goals that are both consistent with America’s true interests and far more likely to succeed.
THE WAY FORWARD: A FIVE POINT APPROACH
Emphasize Power-Sharing and Political Reconciliation
Scale Back and Eventually Suspend Combat Operations in the South and Reduce the U.S. Military Footprint
Keep the Focus on Al Qaeda and Domestic Security
Promote Economic Development
Engage Global and Regional Stakeholders.
Report from The Afghanistan Study Group:
Matthew P. Hoh
Director, Afghanistan Study Group
Director, American Strategy Program
New America Foundation
Center for International Policy