US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts will bid a symbolic farewell to Afghanistan on Monday in their last summit before America winds up its longest “forever war” and the US military pulls out for good.
The meeting is bound to renew questions about whether NATO’s most ambitious operation ever was worth it. The 18-year effort cost the United States alone $2.26 trillion, and the price in lives includes 2,442 American troops and 1,144 personnel among U.S. allies, according to figures from Brown University. NATO does not keep a record of those who die in its operations.
Those casualty figures dwarf Afghan losses, which include more than 47,000 civilians, up to 69,000 members of the national armed forces and police, and over 51,000 opposition fighters.
The military effort followed the 2001 arrival of a U.S.-led coalition that ousted the Taliban for harbouring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Few experts argue that it brought long-term stability, meaningful democracy or security.
With the U.S. leading the withdrawal, European allies and Canada want to hear Biden’s thinking about how security will be assured at their embassies, along major transport routes and above all at Kabul’s airport.—AP