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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The issue:

President Trump will have to decide this month whether to reboot the United States' war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The facts:
  • The duration: The war in Afghanistan kicked off in October 2001. By 2011, there were just under 100,000 U.S. troops on the ground. Now, just 8,400 troops remain in an advisory and counterterrorism role, continuing the longest war in U.S. history.
  • The casualties: 2,393 American troops have died, though just 37 of those deaths have come over the two-and-a-half years since withdrawal. Additionally, 24,841 civilians have died since 2009 — when the UN began systematically documenting civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
  • The cost: Tough to pin down. A recent study calculated the combined costs of Afghanistan and Iraq at just under $5 trillion. Another report estimated that the annual cost per troop in Afghanistan averaged $1.186 million.
  • The state of play: The American commander in Iraq told Congress in February that the remaining Afghanistan force faced a "shortfall of a few thousand" troops in a continued "stalemate" against the Taliban, which is now allegedly assisted by Russia.
Why it matters:

If Trump sends more troops to Afghanistan, he risks prolonging one of the longest and costliest conflicts in U.S. history.

Go deeper

50 mins ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department will now consider bringing criminal charges against Bannon, marking a significant escalation in the Jan. 6 committee's efforts to enforce subpoenas against Trump allies who refuse to cooperate.

Biden: Jan. 6 Capitol riot "was about white supremacy"

President Biden speaks during the 10th anniversary celebration of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with Vice President Harris in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 21. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday that white supremacy motivated rioters who carried out the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: "The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago, it was about white supremacy, in my opinion," Biden said at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington.