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‘The one big lesson’ of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, according to Ian Bremmer

Ian Bremmer, Ph.D

As the last of the U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, one geopolitics expert thinks America’s longest war left us with one key lesson.

“The one big lesson is that as rightfully angry and scared as Americans were after 9/11, we made Afghanistan into an almost existential threat to the American homeland — and it was never that,” Eurasia Group Founder Ian Bremmer told Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “It was never a grade A national security priority for the U.S. It never merited a hundred-plus thousand servicemen and women on the ground, fighting a war and rebuilding a nation.”

The war cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion and lasted for two decades, leading to the deaths of nearly 2,500 American service members, nearly 4,000 U.S. contractors, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

“Remember why we went to Afghanistan in the first place? Because we were attacked by Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001, and they were based in Afghanistan,” President Joe Biden said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We delivered justice to bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011, over a decade ago. Al-Qaeda was decimated. … we succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago, and we stayed for another decade. It was time to end this war.”

Bremmer added that the intense pressure to pull out of Afghanistan also signaled a shift in how the U.S. viewed itself.

“We need to reflect on why it is that in an enormously divided United States, one of the very few foreign policies that Democrats, Republicans, and independents can agree on is: Get the hell out of Afghanistan,” he said. “Why is it that a mission that the United States historically had a much easier time embracing — that of being the world’s policeman, that of being the cheerleader of American values and open society and human rights — why doesn’t that appeal to Americans any more, irrespective of what part of the political spectrum you’re on?”

Bremmer also questioned how America’s perception of itself would affect its relationship with allies.

“How should they think about the United States if we were in their shoes?” he asked. “Something we need to be considering going forward.”

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