For a soldier deployed to a place where suicide bombings are a routine threat, as they were in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, back in 2010, the sound of an approaching vehicle can be enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. So when, in the fall of that year, during one of my platoon’s first patrols after we lost three soldiers to a suicide attack, I heard the buzz of an engine and looked up to see a motorcycle bearing down on the rear of our formation, my first instinct was to jump over a nearby wall and cover my head.
Department of Defense photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton
As Donald Trump prepares to take the nation’s highest office and become our next commander-in-chief, he will face a host of challenges both at home and abroad. As president, Trump will right away have to decide how to handle the ongoing battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. He’ll also need to manage an increasingly tenuous relationship between the United States and Iran, Russia, and China; and decide whether or not he’ll make good on threats to make U.S. military support for NATO member states conditional on whether they’ve met their financial obligations to the alliance, as he’s suggested in the past, among other national security issues.
As the city of Kunduz attempts to rebuild, its temporary occupation by Taliban forces should force the U.S. foreign policy establishment to stop and reflect on what the entire 14-year long war in Afghanistan has accomplished. It is indeed valuable to ask whether the value of the city and Afghanistan as a whole exceeded the cost of American and coalition blood spent fighting for control over the years. Focusing on events like the takeover of Mosul and Kunduz force us to confront the bigger question: Was the war worth it? If yes, then how much additional cost should we be willing to bear to ensure the viability of our investment?