Has the war in Afghanistan been worth it?


US Army Sgt. Carl Goss secures an area near a bridge construction site in Zabul province, Afghanistan, March 13, 2011. Goss, assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, 181st Infantry Regiment, also is a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

Article Highlights

  • In Afghanistan US has achieved much more than vengeance for the 9/11 attacks

    Tweet This

  • US has paid a terrible cost in Afghanistan but the value earned is priceless

    Tweet This

  • In Afghanistan US has protected against further attack, preserved representative govt, stabilized region

    Tweet This

Yes. On Sept. 11, 2001, Afghanistan was home to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Today, Bin Laden is dead and what’s left of the Al Qaeda leadership has fled to Pakistan and beyond. But the United States has achieved much more than vengeance for the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan is no longer a base for terrorists. Instead, it serves as a base for the U.S., as it strives to suppress terrorism and Islamic extremism and stabilize a fragile Pakistan next door.

The U.S. and its allies have achieved a great deal in Afghanistan. The initial invasion quickly ousted the repressive Taliban regime, which had sheltered Al Qaeda. For all its faults and corruption, the current government of Afghanistan has proved durable and is on the verge of a peaceful transfer of power from President Hamid Karzai to an elected successor. That’s something that hasn’t happened in Afghanistan for decades. And, most important to Americans, the U.S. has succeeded in training the Afghan army so it will be able to defeat attempts by the Taliban to reclaim power. 

More than 2,300 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, many more have been wounded, and billions of dollars have been spent. That is a terrible cost, but the value earned in return—protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks, preserving representative government in Afghanistan, and protecting U.S. interests in a volatile region—is priceless.

This article appeared in The New York Times Upfront on March 31, 2014 alongside an opposing viewpoint from former congressman Ron Paul.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author



What's new on AEI

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.