For the past 20 years, the U.S. military has been trying to prop up the Afghani army to be strong enough to take on the Taliban. Over the last few weeks, we saw the country fall under the control of the Taliban. The Afghani army that American forces has spent years trying to prop up immediately collapsed. Ron Paul was right! This was always going to happen; it was always going to end up being an ugly withdrawal.
America’s foreign policy in the Middle East dates back to the 1950’s, but things stayed pretty stagnate until the Gulf War. After the Gulf War, America continued to issue bomb campaigns in the Middle East, which is what brought us the tragic events of 9/11/2001. The American culture in the 80’s-90’s was significantly different than the debacle it is today. You had Springsteen singing on MTV about red, white and star spangly American pride. The Gulf War was televised, so when the average American got home from work, they turned on the TV and saw the American military “kicking ass and taking names”.
When the hijacked planes hit the Twin Towers in 2001 Americans were confused as to why and how this tragedy happened. The Bush administration had us convinced that they hated us because of our freedom, and Bush sent troops into Afghanistan to get Osama Bin Laden. They had him located in 2001, but somehow couldn’t get reinforcements to the area in time to form a blockade, and Bin Laden slipped over into Pakistan (Porter, 2009). Ten years later, the CIA got a hit on Bin Laden’s location and supposedly they got him. The next 10 years consisted of American nation building, fighting the Taliban, and attempting to prop up the poorly trained Afghani army.
In February 2020, Trump arranged a ceasefire with the Taliban contingent on the U.S. troops leaving. Trump declared that American forces would wrap up the exit process by May of 2021. Biden took office at the beginning of the year, and according to Elving:
Biden did not reverse this course when he took office, although he did push back the pull-out to September. He wanted more time to remove U.S. forces and, if necessary, evacuate U.S. civilians as well as Afghan interpreters and others who helped the U.S. war effort. He was advised he would have a period of weeks or months to do this after September (2021).
Biden decided not to pull out slowly and carefully, but instead abruptly yanked American forces out of the country. The Afghan army and government crumbled very quickly, and the Taliban took the country within a matter of two weeks. The result of this poorly thought out and haphazard exit from Afghanistan is a fully American-armed Taliban in control, with American people left behind, and an uncertain future for Afghanistan.
Now everybody is playing the blame game. Although it’s good that everyone appears to be anti-war now, they are still casting blame, and no one is taking responsibility. The right wingers blame Biden, and the left wingers blame Trump and Biden, and the White House calls the exit a success. Whereas, principled Libertarians will say that we should have never started these never-ending wars and should have never been there in the first place.
Although America fought a war we were never going to win, the exit strategy could have gone significantly smoother. The ideal exit strategy would have been a tiered process. First, strategically extract troops from areas that the Afghan army could hold down. Second, the military should have disabled heavy equipment, choppers, and vehicles instead of giving the Taliban a huge late summer Christmas. The U.S. government promised asylum to anyone who worked with the U.S., but then left them for dead. We should have kept our word on political asylum.
God only knows what Afghanistan is going to be like in 20 years. Will the Taliban form a civil government? Will a dictator assume power? Will the Taliban partner with China? Who knows? Only time will tell.
Elving, R. (2021, August 18). Withdrawing from Afghanistan may be the one Thing Biden and Trump agree on. NPR. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2021/08/18/1028607717/strange-bedfellows-indeed-the-trump-biden-consensus-on-afghanistan
Porter, G. (2009, August 7). Bush had no plan to Catch Bin Laden after 9/11. Antiwar.com Original. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://original.antiwar.com/porter/2008/09/30/bush-had-no-plan-to-catch-bin-laden-after-911
Sadiq, N. (2019, February 14). Raymond Davis, CIA, and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Antiwar.com Original. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://original.antiwar.com/nauman_sadiq/2019/02/15/raymond-davis-cia-and-the-hunt-for-osama-bin-laden