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An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter provides security from above while CH-47 Chinooks drop off supplies to U.S. soldiers at Bost Airfield, Afghanistan, June 10, 2017 (Photo by Sgt. Justin Updegraff for U.S. Marine Corps via AP Images).

What the Quagmires in Afghanistan and Syria Reveal About America’s Strategic Culture

Friday, Feb. 15, 2019

“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” President Donald Trump said in his recent State of the Union address—one of the few lines that may have appealed to both ends of the political spectrum. Debate is raging in the United States over how quickly to disengage from Syria and Afghanistan, as frustration with these seemingly interminable conflicts has grown on the political right and left. Trump grasps this frustration and seems inclined to pull American forces out of both places.

But every time Trump mentions military withdrawal, security experts, political leaders and military commanders push back. Trump’s statement about not fighting “endless wars” was, as Kori Schake put it, “a clear signal that his administration has scaled back its objectives for Afghanistan and is headed for the exit.” A “precipitous” withdrawal from Afghanistan, a report from the RAND Corporation warned, “would mean choosing to lose.” ...

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