Biden made tough, but correct call on Afghanistan


U.S. soldiers leaving Afghanistan, a country where some have fought for years.

Sayan Sonnad-Joshi

At 3:29 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 30, the last United States soldier in Afghanistan, Maj. Chris Donahue, was flown out of Kabul, completing the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

This flight marked the end of 20 years of war that resulted in very few gains, but many losses. Despite major backlash to the U.S.’ pull-out, Pres. Joe Biden made the right choice to withdraw.

The United States first entered Afghanistan in 2001 under the Bush administration after the September 11th attacks. The Taliban had been in control of the country since 1996, and had instituted a reign of terror both in Afghanistan and abroad. Many Afghans fear that the same reign of terror will return with the Taliban regaining control of the government.

The U.S.’s main goals in Afghanistan were to disrupt terrorist activities in the area and rebuild the Afghan government. This led to a 20-year war that cost $2 trillion dollars ($300 million per day).

Initially, the United States succeeded in crushing terrorism throughout Afghanistan. On Dec. 5, 2001, the Taliban offered the United States an unconditional surrender. Had the U.S. taken this deal, the situation in Afghanistan would be totally different. Instead, the United States rejected the deal, wanting to fully eradicate the Taliban. This allowed the Taliban to stay out of the spotlight and slowly rebuild their forces to where they are now. 

The U.S. had success within its fingertips for one of its main goals in the country — ending the Taliban — and let it slip away.

Out of the U.S.’s two goals in the country, crushing terrorism was much more straightforward than creating a government. By attempting to establish a democracy from scratch in the country, the U.S. hoped to put Afghanistan in the right direction and stop terrorism for good. However, there was still too much violence, turmoil and unrest in the country for a government to stay in power. The country was split, and the president could not unify the people. 

It is not possible for a stable, democratic government to be established in a place with as much turmoil as Afghanistan. The United States was so caught up in its own mission that it failed to realize it was chasing an unattainable goal. A government needs to come about naturally through the people. Other countries, such as South Korea, have succeeded in escaping a tyrannical military regime and building a stable democracy. It’s likely that Afghanistan will someday build their own government, but it is no longer the United States’ job to meddle in other countries’ business and continue our problematic history of nation-building.

As Biden said in his first speech after the completed withdrawal, the United States was fighting a “forever-war.” The U.S. was trying to achieve the impossible, pouring money into the country and seeing no positive results. Instead, this caused tens of thousands of Afghan and American deaths, while creating a debt of over two trillion dollars that future generations will pay for. 

For the United States, the problem was not the decision to withdraw soldiers, but the way it was handled. There was seemingly little planning, causing severe problems for the U.S. and Americans who resided in Afghanistan. When the decision to withdraw was first announced, there were still thousands of Americans remaining in Afghanistan in need of evacuation. While for the most part this was accomplished safely, the same cannot be said for the Afghans who were trying to escape the Taliban. Over 15 Afghans fell to their deaths after trying to hang onto American planes departing the country. The United States has played a major role in the problems that Afghanistan is having today, and it was unfair to leave the country on a whim and not provide any help to the Afghans who have aided in fighting the Taliban for years. They are now stranded in a hostile, terror-filed country.

Another problem with the withdrawal is the amount of weaponry the United States left behind, including 22,000 Humvees, 110 Blackhawk helicopters and 64,000 machine guns. These are all weapons that the Taliban have already started using, and will continue to use to rule with terror. A better effort should have been taken to destroy or remove the majority of these weapons. Our abandonment of advanced U.S. weaponry will only cause more death and destruction in the future.

The U.S. had gotten themselves into an extremely messy war in Afghanistan for many years now, and there were no good decisions being made until now, with Biden’s decision to pull out. Afghanistan is in a state of unrest right now, but they will eventually solve their own government issues. At this point, the U.S. was not helping anymore, but only harming. If the recent terrorist attack in Afghanistan is anything to show for the future, then it will be a rough few years for the country. The U.S. should support the country as much as possible, but not through military aid as they have been for the last twenty years.