Against the Grain II

We should have left Afghanistan long ago

Vaughn Wilson

Presidents George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama and Donald J. Trump all sat in office while American troops were stationed at risk in Afghanistan

Bush, who initiated the Gulf War, also sent troops into Afghanistan to seek out Osama Bin Laden who had been responsible for the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Claiming intelligence had pointed to Afghanistan as the harboring territory of Bin Laden, the U.S. military and a coalition of countries went after Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The war would be a costly battle. Nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths are attributed directly to the Afghan War. Bin laden was killed in Pakistan in May 2011 during a U.S Special Forces raid that was given final authority from Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama.  That should have been the end of U.S. occupation.

The initial justification for invading Afghanistan had expired at that moment. There would not be good reason to stay in a war with evolving motives. Occupying the territory would only build resentment from residents and insurgents alike.

Obama completed a second term without withdrawing. Trump would sustain the occupation for another four years.  It would take the 46th President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, to get American troops out of inevitable harm’s way.

It would always be an unpopular move. Americans have built up a persona that we can control everything and everyone. If we learned anything from the Gulf War and Afghanistan War, it’s that there is no logic attached to terrorists who don’t value their own lives over their cause. Suicide bombers were convinced that their deaths were honorable and ordained by their God.

Not only has the human sacrifice been great, but the tab for the activity has as well.  Several estimates have pinned the cost of losing the war into the trillions. Still, lawmakers in Washington D.C. rarely discussed the cost of the war, but continued to offer it a blank check.

No matter who was president or when they decided it was time for withdrawal, it would be met with scrutiny. Our American pride does not account for us not being able to control the whole world. Giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban is seen as defeat in the eyes of some. However, losing  American lives in that environment is a high price to pay to just remain in occupancy.

George Washington had his faults. He was a slave owner from his youth at around 11 years old. He did ascend to the presidency of the USA, however, and during his time he made one of the most profound stances in American history. Washington warned about engaging in foreign entanglements that would not be to the benefit of the American people. The statement draws an eerie comparison to the U.S. occupancy of Afghanistan.  At some point it became a no-win situation and the smart thing was to end it sooner than later.