The Taliban's retaking of Afghanistan and the American withdrawal of troops spell an end to a nearly 20-year war that left the preexisting power back in control but the U.S. trillions of dollars poorer.
From its start in 2001 through April 2021, the war in Afghanistan has cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $2.261 trillion, according to estimates earlier this year from the Costs of War Project at Brown University.
The estimated tally includes $933 billion toward Department of Defense overseas contingency operations, $443 billion in war-related increases to the DoD’s base budget, $296 billion toward care for veterans of the war in Afghanistan and $59 billion in additional State Department funding. A further $530 billion is attributed to interest payments on war debt over the last two decades.
According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Congress had appropriated more than $88.6 billion for Afghan security, which is 61% of all of the funding for Afghanistan reconstruction since fiscal year 2002.
"The question of whether that money was well spent will ultimately be answered by the outcome of the fighting on the ground, perhaps the purest M&E exercise," SIGAR said in a report published just weeks before the country fell to the Taliban.
Despite the Taliban reassuming power after two decades of conflict, former Afghanistan ambassador to the U.S. Roya Rahmani made clear that it was not all for naught.
"You made a huge difference … in lives of people you haven’t met and will never meet," she said in a message to distraught and frustrated U.S. veterans during an interview with Fox News on Monday.
"It was the progress that was made," she continued. "It was the education [Afghans] received. It was the job they experienced. It was the opportunities that they enjoyed."
Fox News' Ethan Barton and Matt Leach contributed to this report.