WASHINGTON- After 13 years, the United States is winding down its war in Afghanistan, plagued by doubts about what was accomplished at such a high cost.
Instead of a sense of triumph at the close of the longest conflict in America’s history, there is mostly regret and fatigue over a war that claimed the lives of more than 2,300 American troops and cost more than a trillion dollars.
US commanders insist the Afghan security forces will hold the line in a stalemate with the Taliban. But some officials fear a repeat of Iraq, in which an American-trained army virtually collapsed in the face of a jihadist onslaught.
A large majority of Americans now say the war was not worth it, and only 23 percent of US soldiers believe the mission has been a success, according to recent polls.
But when it began, the war enjoyed overwhelming support and victory seemed within reach.
Less than a month after Al-Qaeda’s attacks of September 11, 2001, president George W. Bush captured the nation’s sense of righteous anger as he announced military action in Afghanistan in a televised address in October.
The goal was to “disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations,” Bush said, and to attack the Taliban regime that had hosted Al-Qaeda and refused to hand over its leaders.