The Trump administration seems set to roll-out a mini-surge of up to 5,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, likely increasing U.S. taxpayer costs to $30 billion per year. Before committing more money and troops to the intractable conflict, Congress should be sure that the United States is not throwing good money after bad. Here are six questions to ask.
1. Are the Taliban an international terrorist group or an Afghan insurgent group? Many Afghan elites insist the Taliban are terrorists. A negotiated outcome to the war in Afghanistan is possible if the Taliban are insurgents. With the Taliban reportedly in control of 11 percent of the country and contesting roughly 29 percent, hundreds of thousands of Afghans seem to have answered that question for themselves. 40 years of conflict, to include over 30 years of fighting between those supporting the Taliban and those supporting the government produces deep-seated animosities. The United States needs to understand these animosities, but not be held hostage to them.
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