Everyone knows the mighty militaries that have fallen in Afghanistan: Alexander the Great, the British during their "sun never sets" era, the Soviets when they were gobbling up every other country in the vicinity to join the USSR.
None of those have warred in the country as long as the Americans, however, who have now been battling in Afghanistan for 16 years. More than 2,300 American soldiers have died in the fight. And the monetary cost is approaching $1 trillion — an estimate by the Center for Strategic and International Studies pegs it at $841 billion and climbing. It is our country's longest war.
Donald Trump is the third president to oversee operations there. This was America's War after 9/11. Then it was George W. Bush's War, then Obama's War and now it is Trump's War.
President Trump made his Afghanistan policy the center of his first primetime address to the American people. Though the man campaigned against Bush's ill-fated foreign policy decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama's own mistakes in Libya and Afghanistan, Trump's plan in the latter country is eerily similar to his predecessors. It's the Obama plan really, with an additional 4,000 troops. Few on the ground expect that to make any difference.
So the takeaway from Trump's speech is that this country will have troops in Afghanistan long into the future. Remember, America has troops not just in Iraq, but in Germany, Japan and The Philippines. It has for decades and has no plans to change the status quo.
Perhaps this perpetual overseas deployment is in America's best interest, and perhaps it is in the world's best interest, too. Perhaps it is just a modern form of colonialism. (And there's no reason it can't be both.)
Our worldwide police role is an expensive endeavor, though. It's something Trump's "America First" campaign targeted, though in his first major policy pronouncement has made little change. Afghanistan remains a quagmire.
At the same time, the U.S. does not currently employ an Afghanistan ambassador. John Bass was nominated by Trump in July but has yet to be confirmed. Quagmires on all sides.