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Why Peace Talks Are Washington's Best Bet in Afghanistan

The U.S. Can't Continue Down the Same Failed Path

U.S. and NATO troops arrive at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2017. Omar Sobhani / REUTERS

Every day, 15,000 U.S. forces deployed in Afghanistan fight Washington’s longest war. In 2018, their mission will cost Americans $45 billion in defense spending alone, almost enough to build U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico twice. Trump, who had campaigned on getting the United States out of Afghanistan, was well positioned to change course. Instead, he sent more troops to pursue a military victory that will never come.

U.S. leaders suffer from strategic paralysis over this war. In 16 long years of fighting, Washington’s core aims have not changed: to disrupt and degrade terrorist groups and to prevent them from rebuilding an unchallenged sanctuary in the region. The method to pursue these objectives has also been constant: direct military action against extremist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with aid to both countries to build their security and governance capacity. Yet under three U.S.

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