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The 16 Year War in Afghanistan: Headlines Tell the Story

Photo by DVIDSHUB | CC BY 2.0

Since 2001 the US has been at War in Afghanistan – the longest war in US history. Headlines concisely tell the story of this cruel boomeranging quagmire of human violence and misery. Below are some newspaper headlines from 2010 to the present to show that a militarized foreign policy without Congress’s constitutional duties and steadfast public engagement will drift on, costing our soldiers’ lives and limbs, nearly three-quarters of a trillion taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands of Afghani lives and millions of refugees, with no end in sight.

Here we go – year by year:

2010

Setbacks in Afghanistan Aggravate Fissures Over Obama Administration’s Review Strategy, Magnifying Differences

US Money Financing Afghan Warlords for Convoy Protection, Report Says

Afghan Base Tests US Exit Plans

In Bank Scandal, Kabul Struggles to Recover Missing Money

Afghanistan Halts Taliban Peace Initiative

US Slows Troop Pullout in Afghanistan

2011

Six Children Are Killed by NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan

Airstrike Ravages US-Pakistan Ties

In Afghanistan, a Sweeping Ambitious Effort to Gather Biometric Data

US General Defends Afghanistan Night Raids

US Secretly Met Afghan Militants

American Soldier is Convicted of Killing Afghan Civilians for Sport

Karzai: Plot Had Roots in Pakistan

Afghans Say Assistance Will Be Needed for Years

US Faces New Afghan Test

Taliban Fighters Attack Afghan Government Center

US-Taliban Peace Talks Reached Tentative Accord

Outspoken Afghan Rights Official Ousted

US General in Afghanistan Says Troops May Stay Past ‘14

US Shift May Push Afghans Into Lead Role

US’s Afghan Headache: $400-a-Gallon Gasoline

Karzai Says Foreigners Behind Afghan Corruption

2012

Under Obama a Drone Network

Police Undermine Fight Against Taliban

Taliban Suggests Peace Talks with US

France Ponders Afghan Pullout

US Drone Strikes Are Said to Target Rescuers at Sites

US Seeks to End Afghan Combat Mission in 2013

US, Afghans in Taliban Talks

Airstrike Killed Children, Karzai Says

Afghanistan Targets Flight of Cash

Taliban Gaining More Resources From Kidnapping

Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan Summit Closes

Quick US Exit Gains Support Among Afghans

GI Kills Afghan Villagers; Children Among 16 Dead

How to Get Afghans to Trust Us Once Again

New Poll Finds Drop in Support For Afghan War

General Says Afghans Need Big US Force Beyond 2012

Afghan Officials Stress Need for Long-Term Role for US

In Poppy War, Taliban Aim to Protect a Cash Crop

A Stable Afghanistan is Still Possible

No End to Drug Traffic in Sight as US Nears Afghanistan Exit

Afghan Army’s Defiance Grows

Afghanistan Slows Huge Cash Exodus

Afghan Refugee Children Perish in Harsh Winter

In Afghan War, Dooming History to Repeat Itself

US Begins Packing Its Afghan War Gear for the Movers

Report Questions Afghan Strategy

7 Officials in Afghan Investment Agency Quit, Protesting Graft

Afghans Protest Vengeful Militias

Afghans to Spy on own Forces

Taliban Hit a Region Seen as Safest for Afghans

Away from Kabul, Wide Rift Looms Between Afghans and Americans

[Taliban] Bomb Attack Outside Afghan Mosque Kills 41, Injures 56 on Muslim Holiday

Afghanistan Says US Broke Pact on Prisons

Administration Presses to Resume Peace Negotiations with Taliban

Afghanistan Seeks Taxes from Contractors to US

2013

Anti-Torture Efforts in Afghanistan Failed, UN Says

Afghan Amnesty Program Falls Short, Leaving Ex-Insurgents Regretful and Angry

Afghanistan Moves to Curb US Forces

US Faces Fire As It Pulls Out of Afghanistan

Afghan Leader Says US Abets Taliban’s Goal

General Says 20,000 Troops Should Stay in Afghanistan

For Afghans, Peace Appears More Distant Than Ever

11 Afghans are Kidnapped While Working to Clear Land Mines

Afghanistan’s Karzai says US wants to Keep 9 Bases

Karzai’s Office Gets Bags Full of CIA Cash

Report: Millions of US Assistance for Afghan Health Projects Being Wasted

Afghanistan Karzai Officials Meet Secretly with Taliban

Taliban are Said to Attack Afghan Police

Violent Censorship on Rise in Afghanistan

Taliban Attacks US Consulate in West Afghanistan

US Forced to Take Costly Route to Move Gear Out of Afghanistan

Afghans Demand that US Admit Military Errors

US, Afghans Near Security Accord

Afghans Flee Homes as US Pulls Back

US Trains Elite Afghan Units Before Exit

Afghans Look Warily at Future Without US

Attacks on Aid Workers Rise in Afghanistan UN Says

2014

Military Plans Reflect Afghanistan Uncertainty

Tensions Between Afghanistan and US Increase As Airstrike Kills Civilians

3 Reasons for Optimism on Afghanistan

Hard Talk Aside, Little Desire by the West to Leave Afghanistan

Aid Group Sees Daunting Obstacles to Health Care for Afghans

Foreigners in Afghanistan Consider Fleeing As Attacks Rise

Killing of US General Points to Afghan Troops Troubled Past

After Losing Province in 2010, Afghan Taliban Strike Back

Taliban Attacks Kabul Airport as Vote Recount Begins

2015

The Many Failures in Afghanistan

Afghan City’s Fall to Taliban Belies Earlier American Hopes

New Refugees in a Shifting Afghan War

Afghanistan, Taliban Begin Talks on Peace

Afghan Forming Militias to Fight Against Taliban

Taliban Talks Stir Hopes for Afghan Peace

Rising Dangers and Foreign Exodus Hollow Out Afghan Capital

Afghan Gas Station Cost Pentagon $43 Million

Afghan Forces Straining to Repel Taliban Attacks

Taliban Kill at Least 22 Afghan Police Officers

Afghan Province, Teetering to the Taliban, Draws in Extra US Forces

Afghanistan, Pakistan Seek to Restart Talks with Taliban

CIA Runs Shadow War Using Afghan Paramilitary Forces

2016

US to Fight Islamic State in Afghanistan

Taliban Step Up Urban Assaults, Testing the mettle of Afghan Forces

Another District in an Afghan Province Falls to the Taliban

Taliban Rejects Peace Talks with Afghan Government, Cites US ‘Occupation’

Afghan Troops Retreat Under Pressure from Taliban

From Cold War to Cold Shoulder: Russia Cools on Aiding US in Afghanistan

Afghan Refugees Shivering in Frigid Settlements

Exit Strategy for Afghanistan Fades

Taliban Militants Strike in the Heart of Kabul

Face-Off Between Strongmen Exposes Afghanistan’s Deep Political Riffs

Afghanistan’s Taliban Push into New Media

1,000 Afghans Each Day are Fleeing Their Homes

Huge Protest Against Afghan Government Brings Kabul to a Halt

Taliban Cut off Major Afghan Highway Linking Kabul to Northern Gateways

Number of Displaced Afghans Soars

US-Built Roads Take Afghanistan Nowhere

2017

US General Favors Boost in Troops in Afghanistan

Selling Trump a New Afghan Commitment

Taliban Tap New Income Stream: Collecting Bills for Afghan Utilities

U.S. Military Drops 22,000-Pound Bomb on Islamic State Forces in Afghanistan

America Keeps on Failing in Afghanistan

Taliban Seize Two More Afghan Districts in Sustained Fighting

A Peace ‘Surge’ to End War in Afghanistan

Blackwater’s Founder Wants Trump to Outsource the Afghanistan War

Joint Taliban-ISIS Attack Kills Dozens, Afghan Officials Say

Trump Finds Reason for the U.S. to Remain in Afghanistan: Minerals

No Way Out: Trump’s Crude View of Afghanistan Won’t Solve U.S.’s Longest-Running War

The final headline is as appropriate now as it was when it was printed in 2011: “Futility in Afghanistan.”

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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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