Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Richard Pacelle, professor of political science at the University of Tennessee, to find some answers.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have launched their spring offensive.
The push comes as Afghan troops and police are supposed to be taking control of their own security from the 100,000 foreign troops still serving in Afghanistan.
That includes about 66,000 Americans, but most of them are supposed to leave by the end of next year.
So where are we in this war that has stretched on for nearly 12 years?
Bing West, a retired Marine captain who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, writes in a piece called “Afghanistan the Unknown” in the National Review:
Our reason for invading that remote, medieval country in 2001 was to destroy the al-Qaeda terrorist organization, which had murdered 3,000 civilians at the World Trade Center. Our military failed to destroy AQ but did drive it into Pakistan. To keep AQ from reestablishing a base inside Afghanistan, modest U.S. assets (say, 10,000 troops) are needed.
The U.S. needs to let go of the broader mission of turning Afghanistan into “an economically viable democracy defined by Western values and laws,” West says, because that mission will never end and will always need more money.