May 9, 2017

Trump's Afghanistan conundrum

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

Trump accuses Twitter of interfering in 2020 election

President Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets for first time

President Trump briefs reporters in the Rose Garden on May 26. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter fact-checked two of President Trump's unsubstantiated tweets that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be fraudulent for the first time on Tuesday, directing users to "get the facts" through news stories that cover the topic.

Why it matters: Twitter and other social media platforms have faced criticism for not doing enough to combat misinformation, especially when its propagated by the president.