America’s Longest War

Photo+Courtesy+of+AP

Photo Courtesy of AP

Under the Bush administration, the United States first sent its troops to Afghanistan in October 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks that took place on American soil. The Taliban, an extremist group concentrated in Afghanistan, gave refuge to Al-Qaeda who initiated the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The U.S. war in Afghanistan has taken the lives of about 2,500 U.S. service members, and has also claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel, and civilians. According to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, military expenses exceeded 2.26 trillion U.S. dollars. In April 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden, ordered the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11th. This date also marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Biden later declared that the U.S. military’s involvement in Afghanistan would cease by August 31, 2021, and approximately 3,000 U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country instead of waiting until the previously set date of September 11th.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country resulted in the Taliban closing in on the country’s capital, Kabul. Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country as the Taliban gained increasing control of the Afghan government. Various nations hastily evacuated their citizens and government personnel amidst the turmoil that the country is submerged in. The United States deployed 1,000 troops in order to oversee the evacuation of U.S. embassy staff and American citizens, as well as secure the perimeters of Kabul airport. Amidst this evacuation, Afghans swarmed the Kabul airport’s tarmac in a final attempt to escape from the Taliban’s extremist rule. On August 15, 2021, the Taliban overtook the Presidential Palace in the nation’s capital, signifying their total control over the nation. 

President Biden defended his stance on the U.S. departure from Afghanistan as he stated “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” 

After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the future of the country lies in uncertainty. In an interview with The Associated Press, Taliban leader Mullah Nooruddin Turabi stated that they plan on carrying out severe punishments for those who oppose their rules. The future of women and girls in the country are threatened, as women’s rights, education, and opportunities remain restricted under the Taliban. Tens of thousands of Afghans have fled the country since the Taliban occupied Kabul, many of them fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Iran. About seventy thousand refugees have been allowed special immigrant visas to enter the US for helping the US troops in their war in Afghanistan. There are several thousand evacuees in US bases around the world waiting to reach a safe place.

Even as the future of this war torn country remains unclear, President Biden said that the US will continue to support Afghanistan through diplomacy, international influence, and humanitarian aid.