The United States’ longest war doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.

Sixteen years have passed. Nearly 2,400 U.S. troops have died. More than $700 billion has been spent. But talk of “winning” is scarce.

The goal now seems more akin to “not losing.”

A resurgent Taliban now controls 40 percent of the country’s districts. A fledgling Islamic State affiliate is proving hard to eliminate in the mountainous east. The popularity of the American mission here has eroded into cynicism as the war grinds on. Afghan civilians and security forces are dying in record numbers — and more than 600 civilians were killed by NATO or government-aligned forces last year. Casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to U.S. government watchdog SIGAR.

Perpetual conflict and lack of opportunity are driving thousands of Afghan youths to either flee the country or join militant groups. Discontent with the government and the revival of ethnic rivalries are threatening to plunge the country into political chaos, or worse. Regional powers such as Iran, Pakistan and Russia advance their own strategic interests in Afghanistan, often at the cost of American objectives.

 

Read the whole story from The Washington Post.

Featured image courtesy of AP

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