After almost 20 years, the U.S. has withdrawn troops from Afghanistan. The extremist Islamic group the Taliban has retaken the country. The U.S. first invaded the country after the 9/11/2001 attacks on New York and Washington to quickly topple the Taliban government because it provided a safe haven for the Al Qaeda terrorist group and its ringleader, Osama Bin Laden. While the US did succeed in killing Bin Laden and crippling Al Qaeda, in 20 years, the US spent more than two trillion dollars to tame Afghanistan. It clearly failed at that.
To understand what happened in Afghanistan and why, it’s important to learn the country’s history. Below, a short video on why Afghanistan is impossible to conquer by Westerners — essentially because of its geography, mountainous regions and isolated tribes speaking diverse languages living in a world of their own. The video by RealLifeLore equates the central government in Kabul to the Holy Roman Emperor in Europe, who could not govern or control the variety of tribes, principalities in the Europe of the middle ages. In other words, centralized rule is almost impossible.
At this stage, the country’s future looks dark in terms of the oppression of women, many barred from obtaining an education.
“We can’t make a country care about its own women. Only Afghanistan can do that. No matter what Afghanistan’s Constitution says, after 20 years there, we were not even close to establishing herd immunity to extremism and misogyny,” wrote Jill Lawrence in USA Today.
And yet after nearly 40 years of war as pawns of global powers — the Soviets first invaded in 1979 and withdrew in 1989 — many in the “country” may feel a sense of relief if it is finally at peace, left alone, assuming that the civil war does not continue.
It is also possible that the country could again become a launching pad for international terrorism, by Al Qaeda and other groups, requiring the U.S. and NATO forces to return and topple the Taliban government as it did in a matter of months in 2001.
A consensus of US public opinion — between 63 and 72 percent — seems to be strongly in favor of the US withdrawal. President Trump set the deadline and President Biden fulfilled it. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama struggled with what exactly to do in Afghanistan. Biden has vowed that he will not leave the matter to a fifth U.S. president. “The buck stops here,” he says.
“Afghanistan is Your Fault” writes Tom Nichols in The Atlantic.
Few members of the US military would volunteer to sacrifice, fight and die for what no longer seems like a noble cause but an endless quagmire. Nevertheless, the international public has been shocked by how quickly the Taliban has retaken the country. There are charges that the US “abandoned” Afghanistan and has proven itself to be an unreliable, untrustworthy ally, unwilling to deploy even a few thousand troops (and very low casualty rate) to maintain stability in the country.
President Biden, who was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before he became Vice President in 2009, says he has sought to extract the US from what he termed a civil war since the Obama-Biden administration first came to power. America’s adversaries want us to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, he says, and it simply is not in our nation’s strategic interest to do so, he says.
The Council of Foreign Relations published a timeline from 1999 to 2021, nothing that “the Taliban insurgency remains resilient nearly two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in what led to the United States’ longest war.”
Afghanistan: The Great Game (Part One)
Hadi H: “From 1928 until 1978 there had been relative peace in Afghanistan. In the 1960s and ’70s, it was on the hippie trail but the #coldwar was at its height with Afghanistan surrounded by American allies #Iran and #Pakistan. In northern Afghanistan, Soviet aid was provided and in southern Afghanistan American aid. In #Kabul Islamists and communists vied for supremacy and when the communists took control in 1978 they asked the #SovietUnion for military assistance.
“Reluctantly they (the Soviets) agreed after the Afghan president went to #Moscow in 1979. 80,000 troops entered Afghanistan and the United States saw a chance for revenge against the Soviets who aided the communists in Vietnam. The #CIA covertly through #GeneralZia, President of Pakistan, provided modern weaponry. #CharlieWilson and socialite #JoanneHerring were prominent in the raising of 9 billion dollars covertly passed to Afghanistan. In 1988 the Soviets pulled out and the country descended into a vicious five-year civil war that the #Taliban emerged victorious imposing strict Islamic law. Afghanistan became a safe haven for many #terrorist groups…”
“In this episode Rory Stewart tells the story of #British interventions in #Afghanistan in the 19th century, when the British #Empire became obsessed with the idea that their rival, #Russia, was considering the #invasion of Afghanistan as a staging post for an attack on British India. It was a period of mutual suspicion and paranoia that later became known as “The Great Game”. Afghanistan was perceived by #Victorian Britain, as it’s believed to be today, to be an immediate threat to British national security. In this first film, #RoryStewart tells the story of the decision-making that led to the first British invasion of Afghanistan, and the three #Anglo-Afghan wars fought in this era. And he tells the story of Afghanistan’s unlikely reaction to this period. When an Afghan-elite made a futile attempt to impose western-inspired ideas and modernity on the country.”