20-year US war in Afghanistan was a complete failure: Report
The 20-year US war in Afghanistan was a complete failure, which left the Taliban undefeated and led to the death of tens of thousands of Afghans and over 3,000 American and NATO troops, according to a report by the US news agency The Associated Press.
The war also left the US government with trillions of dollars of debt that generations of Americans will pay for, the AP report said.
Brown University's Cost of War Project estimates 241,000 people have died as a direct result of the war. The Cost of War Project estimates the Afghan war has cost the United States $2.26 trillion.
Linda Bilmes, a senior lecturer in public policy at Harvard University, calculates the US will spend more than $2 trillion just caring for and supporting Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans as they age, with costs peaking 30 years to 40 years from now.
Because the US government borrowed rather than raised taxes to pay for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, interest payments are estimated to cost succeeding generations of Americans trillions of dollars more still.
Overall, 2,448 American troops, 1,144 troops from NATO other allied countries, more than 47,000 Afghan civilians and at least 66,000 Afghan military and police died, according to Brown University's Costs of War project.
The AP report comes as the Taliban militant group laid siege to Kabul, forcing the sitting Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, to flee to an undisclosed location.
Ghani, whose current whereabouts are unknown, left Afghanistan when the Taliban entered Kabul virtually unopposed, and said he wanted to avoid bloodshed.
The unfolding events have led to chaos and confusion, with thousands of Afghan civilians and diplomats swarming Kabul airport to take evacuation flights.
Many US military veterans who fought in the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan have expressed disgust at American politicians who launched and supported the conflicts in those two nations, saying the US "lost the war" and the blood and money spent there was wasted.
"A hundred percent we lost the war," Jason Lilley, a member of US special forces who fought in multiple battles in Iraq and Afghanistan, said recently in an interview with Reuters.
"The whole point was to get rid of the Taliban and we didn't do that. The Taliban will take over," Lilley, 41, told Reuters.
Lilley was on the front lines of America's so-called “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost 16 years, earning years of up-close experience of those devastating wars.
While in Afghanistan, Lilley said he grew to understand why historians have called it the "graveyard of empires."
Britain invaded Afghanistan twice in the 19th century and suffered one of its worst military defeats there in 1842. The Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989, leaving after 15,000 of its troops were killed and tens of thousands were wounded.