Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

The 2016 Epidemic of Afghan War Amnesia

| October 16, 2016

There are reasons Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump aren't talking about U.S. failures in Afghanistan. They're just not good reasons.

During the first two presidential debates, did you notice that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump ever uttered the word "Afghanistan"? One wonders how the 8,400 U.S. military personnel still serving in America's longest war felt about that. When the two candidates vying to be commander in chief are not asked to state their views on a war the United States is still fighting and feel no necessity to raise it themselves, it tells you a lot about the bizarre political campaign we’ve been saddled with this year, as well as the cavalier way our country now regards a conflict we seem readier to forget than to end

When future historians look back on the conduct of the Afghan campaign, I suspect they will deliver a harsh indictment of the entire U.S. national security establishment. Although there have been many examples of individual gallantry, personal sacrifices by civilians and soldiers alike, and repeated efforts to devise a winning formula, the end result will still be a costly failure. To put it bluntly: We didn't win, we didn't break even, and we couldn't find the wisdom or will to get out of the game....

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For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Walt, Stephen M..“The 2016 Epidemic of Afghan War Amnesia.” Foreign Policy, October 16, 2016.

The Author

Stephen Walt