“It is important not only to win victories; it is important to know how to use them.” ~ Titus Livius (Livy) commenting on Rome’s bad performance in North Africa, especially Carthage, in the aftermath of the Roman victory in the Punic wars. History tells us that most victors do not know how to use their victories—as a result they surrender not only the gains that they have made but they suffer severe economic, cultural, and geopolitical debacles.
America has spent more than $3 trillion on its twenty-year intervention in Afghanistan, a country with a GDP of just $20 billion. Some sources claim that the American expenses in Afghanistan are close to $7 trillion. The American establishment has no achievements to show for this massive investment of money and time. The regime that they deposed has made a comeback and is now the dominant political force in Afghanistan, while America is now in a very weak economic, cultural, and geopolitical situation.
If America is forced to spend between $3 and $7 trillion on fighting an insurgency (not even a full-fledged war) in a country with just $20 billion GDP, then how will they fare in the ongoing geopolitical contest with China, which is the world's second largest economy with a massive $13 trillion GDP? The Americans will probably need $100 trillion to fight a limited-battle against China? A full-fledged war will cost them much more. America cannot fight a war with China without totally destroying itself.