On this anniversary of 9/11, many Americans will naturally feel conflicted about our role in Afghanistan. Whatever we each feel should be tempered by the realization that our fight against the extremists who attacked us 20 years ago is ongoing. We have forces deployed to dozens of nations in a conflict that will extend through the remainder of this century.

The choices we now face are how, when, and, at times, where to fight. Having spent almost a third of my adult life training, fighting and planning for war, I can assure you there are no easy choices. There are none without risk; none possessed of certainty; none that do not cost us treasure and youth. It is easy to cast blame for the collapse of Afghanistan’s government because there’s plenty to go around. I suggest we instead be concerned with drawing lessons from this experience. We must do better in this fight. We must also find ways to honor the unfinished work of those men and women, living and dead, who sacrificed in Afghanistan.

Michael J. Hicks, PhD, is the director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and the George and Frances Ball distinguished professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. Hicks earned doctoral and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Virginia Military Institute. He has authored two books and more than 60 scholarly works focusing on state and local public policy, including tax and expenditure policy and the impact of Wal-Mart on local economies.