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Why the United States Has Lost the War in Afghanistan

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.


How Did the Conflict in Afghanistan Begin?

It is now more than 18 years ago that then US President George W. Bush declared a worldwide war on terrorism aimed at targeting and defeating those loyal to the late Osama Bin Laden. The truth is that the United States military has officially lost the war in Afghanistan This article takes a detailed and analyzed approach as to why the United States has lost the war in Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 after the attacks on New York and Washington DC. Under the planning of the George W. Bush Administration, a campaign to try and eliminate the Taliban and get rid of Osama Bin Laden was put into motion.

Note: before we go into the reasons why the United States has lost this war in Afghanistan, let me say that I think that George W. Bush is a decent man who was just under the influence of his Vice President Richard B. (Dick) Cheney. At the first writing of this article, the statistics in the majority of the article were from 2011.

A Photo of a Group of Soldiers Looking Like Their Army Has Been Defeated

These ISAF soldiers have their heads down and are looking despondent. A long, drawn out war in Afghanistan has exhausted not only US soldiers but Afghans as well.

These ISAF soldiers have their heads down and are looking despondent. A long, drawn out war in Afghanistan has exhausted not only US soldiers but Afghans as well.

Why Has the US lost the War in Afghanistan?

Reason #1: the US keeps spending money on a lost war

It is often said that wars are won by political means and never by the use of military force. It is now 2018 and US forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001. Columnist Eric Margolis says that according to the latest figures, the United States spends at least $10 billion dollars every month in Afghanistan (Margolis). Ten billion dollars in one month spent on any war is too much money. The United States has a deficit that is now approaching a staggering high amount of $1.4 trillion (Margolis). The big cause of the deficit is due to the US having to borrow money from China and Japan in order to finance these two lost wars. Both China and Japan will become wealthier in the long term at the expense of the United States. All of this money is being spent on these wars while there was a government shutdown in the entire state of Minnesota as when this essay was first composed. Statistics say that at least 44 million people in America are now on food stamps and the official unemployment rate is said to be at 9.5% but is probably close to 20% (Margolis).

The Taliban is relentless and too tough for the US to handle

There is no such thing as a stalemate for the United States military in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the US has been unable to defeat the Taliban who still control the majority of the country. Then President Hamid Karzai was seen as a leader loyal to the United States who had very little power and controlled just a small portion of Kabul. The Afghan people should be allowed to elect their own leaders without the influence of other countries. But the US had kept trying to make sure that Karzai stayed in power because they want to have a leader in Afghanistan who will abide by US interests and give the US whatever they want. These policies are against what the Founding Fathers of the United States originally had in mind.

Soldiers in Afghanistan


The US is not able to handle a guerrilla war against a determined population

The US cannot defeat the Taliban people by the use of airplanes, missiles, bombs and other advanced weapons. The Taliban use tactics that were similar to to what the Vietcong used in Vietnam. The US is not used to a guerrilla war. It is time that the United States military admitted what is obvious. The obvious fact is the United States military has been defeated in Afghanistan. What is the main objective for the United States army in Afghanistan? The original stated objective was to capture the late Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar and defeat the Taliban. Osama Bin Laden escaped from Afghanistan long before the US military could capture him. He was eventually killed by US Navy Seal personnel in Pakistan in May 2011. It took almost ten years to find and get rid of a man that was on the minds of so many people in America. And the Taliban can never be defeated through the use of military power. And the US is not going to be able to bring a true Western style democracy to Afghanistan. The population of that country is not familiar with what a democracy is.

The US presence in Afghanistan makes the country more dangerous and unstable

Note: this section of the article was composed when Barack Obama was still President of the United States.

It is time that the United States military withdraws all of its troops from this Southwest Asian nation as soon as they can. If the US does not withdraw, more of its soldiers will get injured or killed in a war that was lost a long time ago. No one in the Obama Administration seems to want to admit that the US cannot win in Afghanistan. They are convinced that they can somehow defeat the Taliban and bring stability to that country. You can never bring peace and stability to a country by fighting to save it. The use of bombs, missiles and machine guns do not bring success in a country that uses guerrilla warfare to fight and defeat any foreign occupiers. The minute that the US forces leave Afghanistan all the different groups in that country will still fight for control and the security situation will still be tense. All of the true military experts agree that Afghanistan is a lost cause.

There is no excuse for a country like the United States to have 44 million people as of 2011 that need to depend on food stamps just so they can have food to eat every day. The United States has enough money to improve the lives of its citizens if they really wanted to and if they spent the money properly.

It is time for the United States military to do the responsible thing by withdrawing all of its troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. These two wars have been lost and the people in those two countries will not stop fighting until the last troops have left those countries. We need to stop fighting unnecessary wars that have almost bankrupted our country and instead we need to focus on what we can do to help our people live the life that they deserve.

Our politicians in Congress and Mr. Obama did not admit the obvious: our nation cannot handle any more money being spent on fighting a war that we have lost. As a person that has studied history extensively, if we wanted to analyze the last war that was necessary to fight in was World War 2. But Afghanistan is not Germany of the 1930’s and 1940’s. It is a majority Islamic country that has a proud population which has successfully fought off foreign domination and control. If the Soviet Union could not bring Afghanistan to its knees and impose a communist style government, how does the United States expect to “win” the war over there?

In addition to this, the attack on The American University of Afghanistan on the outskirts of Kabul shows that the West is not safe even when they establish institutions of higher learning in one of the most violent and volatile countries in the world. I would say that at best, Western countries may be able to contain ISIS and lessen their global reach but eliminating them entirely may be nothing more than a pipe dream.

Main reason why the United States has lost in Afghanistan

The US Has Still Lost the War in Afghanistan

As of March 2019 Informationclearinghouse lists that according to their estimates, the total costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars are now at $4.78 trillion! The solution for the United States military is to get out of the Afghan conflict which is a failure. If some of you need historical perspective here it is: Richard Cohen, writer for the Washington Post elaborates on this by saying that “it seems the policy is merely to avoid defeat- which is hardly a cause worth dying for,” (Cohen). Even Vice President Mike Pence who visited the Afghan capital of Kabul in December 2017 remarked that “we’re here to see this through,” (Cohen). See this through to what Mr. Pence? Exactly what is the objective of a war that is still being fought even though Osama Bin Laden met his end in 2011? Is it to find weapons? Is it to eliminate terrorism? One thing is clear: the US military cannot win a long war in a country far away from its shores. Whether the US pulls out of Afghanistan or if it does not until 2024 or longer, the Taliban will still win. Has the US learned anything from the Vietnam War? It has not shown that it has learned anything from that unnecessary conflict.


Cohen, Richard. "The United States should get out of Afghanistan. Now." The Washington Post 26 February 2018. Newspaper.

Margolis, Eric. Graveyard of Empires. 29 June 2011. 2 July 2011. <>.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on April 22, 2020:

Thank you very much.

Saqib Ishaq on April 22, 2020:

great article

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