Is victory in Afghanistan worth the cost?

As President Obama considers whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the American general in charge of allied forces is warning that, without more troops, the war may end in failure. Is victory in Afghanistan worth the cost?

Afghanistan is “the graveyard of empires”. It will be ours too. Obama should get us out now! -Steve, Maple Grove, MN

First, what IS victory in Afghanistan? -Robert, New Brighton, MN

Why isn’t the government Identifying the funding sources for the insurgents in Afghanistan? Why isn’t the Federal Government addressing those funding sources? This is an 8 year conflict that requires big financial commitments. The money does not fall from the sky. It comes from somewhere. What stopped the German War Machine in WWII was cutting off their access to oil. The bombing of factories hardly slowed the conflict at all. As soon as the energy resources were controlled the Germans had little opportunity to continue in the conflict. The money is the oil of this conflict. Stop the cash and that will end a lot of the insurgents’ opportunity to resist. Mr Bush’s Doctrine was that any country supporting terrorism was in conflict with the US. -Tim Brandon, Minneapolis, MN

Share your reply in the comments: Is victory in Afghanistan worth the cost?

  • Marta Ljungkull


  • Dan Hoxworth

    The opportunity to win the war in Afghanistan was in the fall of 2001 and 2002. We have now allowed the Taliban to regain strength and Al-Quaida to disperse and create hideouts throughout the mountainous terrain of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Any “victory” in Afghanistan must be an international solution at this point and the costs must be borne internationally in terms of both lives and funding. If there is not the will for this internationally, there certainly isn’t within the United States.

    Whether “victory” is even achievable at this point is the most important discussion? If it is, then it must be an international solution. We cannot afford to go at it alone any more.

  • lyn rabinovitch

    I am convinced this is a war we cannot win. We need to heed the lessons of McNamara in the documentary The Fog of War. We are facing a horrific loss of lives. Bring our troops home now.

  • Deb Staley


    As another person said, any window that we had was in 2001/2002. And that only on a limited purpose, to get Bin Laden and other Al-Quaida leaders.

  • carole fusaro

    exactly how are we to know when we are victorious? since terrorism extends well beyond afghanistan’s borders, where do we draw the boundaries? this could go on forever. at who’s expense (both lives & funds)? the excuses for not dealing with afghanistan eight years ago are lame. what have we gotten ourselves into & can we ever get out?

  • bob

    I was so disheartened when President Obama hitched his Presidency to escalating our military presence in Afghanistan. It’s going to be Vietnam all over again, in terms of the human and economic waste, the political divisiveness, and the actual outcome.

  • Mike in St Paul


    We need to ensure that Afghanistan doesn’t revert to the safe haven it was in the 90’s for Al Qaeda. Any victory we can look forward to needs to be multilateral. This is not a problem that the US alone can solve. The US, EU, Russia, India, Pakistan, China, and the Middle East all have a stake in ensuring that peace takes hold in South Asia and that Al Qaeda no longer feels welcome there.

  • Rose


    History has shown that NO invader has “won” in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not an enemy. AlQuaida is and they have won. Not only did they affect 9/11 and the loss of property and lives but they can take credit for the subsequent effects on our civil liberties, and the continued loss of thousands of young men and women.

    Another historical note: there seems to be a co-relation between invading Afghanistan and a decline in the invader’s continuing world power and influence. Is the U.S. in decline….?

  • Jim!!!

    Exactly what does it mean “victory in Afganistan”? That seems to be a common question and I don’t think anyone has provided a clear answer.

  • Ben B

    Victory? what does that mean? finding Bin Ladin? making Afghanistan the 51st state? Installing a US friendly government? WHAT??

    It will NEVER work. It never has and never will(at least the way its been done lately) This is not a sporting event. The clock will not run out, there will not be a final score except lots of dead and damaged people and billions of dollars burned

  • Alison

    What is victory in Afghanistan? If the goal is to prevent the developent and training of terrorists who could harm Americans, this is not worth it. There are plenty of places in the world where this can take place and we can start wars in all of them

  • Joe

    Seems like the way to proceed is not clear at all and we don’t have any good choices. I would not like to see the Taliban reestablish itself destroying everything non Muslim, public beheadings and executions in stadiums etc. Though it might wind up being very costly to prevent a scenario like that from happening. I don’t know that most of us here really have a very good understanding of whats really going just from the news we get here. Seems like we missed our chance to help bring a reasonable amount of security to the region.

  • James

    #1 Pull ALL of the US forces from around the world, bring them home.

    #2 Give all ILLEGAL aliens 48 hours to get out.

    #3 Set our troops at 50 yards intervals with orders to shoot anything that tries to get in.

    It is that simple.

    We as a nation have all we need to make a go of it just fine. Every one will have to WORK… but at least we will reap the rewords.

  • Rob

    For me, The solution to an issue isn’t in solving the puzzle, but in asking the right questions. Focusing on the cost of “victory” in Afghanistan misdirects attention from the more important question of “what are the the consequences if we fail?”

  • Paul

    Worth it to who? This guy?…

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier (Kipling)

  • Emily

    We cannot cut our efforts short in Afghanistan. The forces at play there are some that have been and have great potential to be a very real threat to the United States.

    However, success in Afghanistan cannot be only a military victory. It must also be combined with other efforts. With the enormous funds we put into the military work, we MUST also work at a similar scale on economic and social development for true success. And the only way to do this is by listening carefully to the Afghan people and working from the inside out. American foreign policy too often overlooks basic cultural and development issues. Afghanistan can be a success story if this outlook changes.

    We cannot abandon the effort now, or those potential threats of a terrorist breeding ground may sneak up on us again.

  • Jonathan

    There are so many reasons this is not “winnable.”

    Military: lack of supply route, impossible terrain, no defined enemy.

    Political: elections tainted, gov’t unrepresentative factional corrupt. Who is the enemy?

    Economic: Can we cut off the enemies’ financing? Can we afford this war?

    Social: we’re war weary.

    Moral: We have lost the moral high ground, must let Pakistan and Iran and former USSR states handle this. Promote non-military relations with those countries

  • William Rosa

    Victory can only be won if, the surrounding countries help. If not, go to the U.N. and tell them we’re leaving the country by (insert time frame,) no matter what we stick with that date and get suggestions from other on how to do it.

  • Jeff Nygaard

    To ask this question is to reveal that the asker of the question accepts the legitimacy of violence as a means to resolve international issues. The question itself implies that “might makes right.” Consider:

    “Victory” represents “right.” The capacity to incur “The costs” — human life and wealth, presumably — represent might. The question assumes that one side is taking on the costs and this reserves for them the right to judge “victory.”

    If we consider that “victory” might be the withdrawal of the occupying forces from Afghanistan, then who is allowed to declare “victory”? Why?

    A military occupation of a country that poses no immediate threat to the occupier is illegitimate, period. There is no “victory,” no matter how low or high the costs.

  • Linda


    When will we ever learn that killing people around the world does not work to bring peace. It only gives the “enemy” more tools with which to recruit others to hate us. Obama’s position, so far, is very disappointing.

  • JB Lewis

    I think we are paying the cost of failure right now! We failed the Afghans, after covertly helping them push out the Soviets, by not helping them rebuild infrastructure and schools. In that void the Taliban gained a stronghold. Now we have to quash the Taliban AND help the Afghans rebuild their infrastructure.

  • Gerald L. Myking

    Just as there is a cost for staying there is a cost for leaving. We are justified in our concerns of a repeat of Viet Nam but there are a lot of differences. Viet Nam was a United Nations war. It was a war of Imperiism by the French. Afghanistan was the base of operations for an enemy that attacked us. While the Taliban and Al Queda have been kept busy they have had no time to implement another attack on our home turf which Homeland Security is given unjust credit for. The fight was taken to them. There is a concensus in Afghanistan that they want there country back which was evident in how quickly they formed a government. They have been victims of aggression all the way back to Alexander the Great and Gengus Kahn. They deserve peace and stability. I don’t know if we can give it to them. It is easy to give an opinion when you are ignorant of the situation. I would put a great deal of value on the opinion of those who have spent a lot of time there and have gotten to know the people. I would like to know the opinion of those who put their life on the line for the Afghan people.

  • Patrick

    The US will never really ‘win’ in Afganistan. “So how much is worth ‘partially winning’ ?” would be a more honest question.

    The value of life must be depreciating given the thousands we have sacrificed in that un-holy temple.

    Just because our young men and women (and the Afgans) are willing to sacrifice themselves to this hopeless cause does not mean they should be allowed to do so. History will show what fools we be. Little compensation, though, that be for the crippled and dead.