Afghanistan – A 20 Year War For Nothing

This week, one of America’s greatest failures has finally come to a head. After twenty years of war, hundreds of thousandsdead, trillions of dollars lost, the United States of America has finally pulled out of Afghanistan- leading to the prompt takeover of the entire country by the Taliban. There was no negotiation, no compromises, no conditions. It’s completely the opposite of a Jackpot Capital Bonus. There is no other way of saying it: The United States lost, completely and utterly.

The Afghanistan people have paid the price of one of the longest wars in history. Most wars throughout history are a series of battles and conflicts that are collated together and titled as a single “war”, such as the “Hundred Years War”. In contrast, America has been fighting in Afghanistan continuously since 2001.

And it was all for nothing.

9/11 and the Initial Invasion

All this leads one to ask, why the hell were we there in the first place? The answer takes us back to 9/11. Infamously, three thousand Americans died when Islamic Terrorists hijacked several planes and crashed them into the Twin Towers. An additional plane crashed into the Pentagon, and another crashed on route to Washington DC prematurely because the passengers fought back.

In response, America initiated the “War on Terror”. American troops invaded Afghanistan, where the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda were supposedly hiding under the protection of the Taliban government. Al-Qaeda, and its infamous leader, Osama Bin Ladin, cited US support of Israel, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, and sanctions against Iraq as justifications for their atrocities.

So, the question is, why were we in Afghanistan? For a long time, the answer seemed to be that the United States was seeking justice for the thousands murdered in the name of Islamic Terrorism by hunting down those responsible. The problem was… it didn’t happen. The Taliban government was toppled, sure, and Al-Qaeda is gone… technically… but it didn’t last. Al-Qaeda became Isis, and the Taliban returned to power immediately after the US left.

In fact, the United States killed Osama Bin Ladin back in 2011- and he sure as hell wasn’t in Afghanistan. He was hiding out in Pakistan, our supposed “ally”, living the dream right up until Seal Team Six put him six feet under.

Mission accomplished, right? So, ten years later, why were we still in Afghanistan, the country that wasn’t even hiding the terrorists anymore?

An Then What?

To me, I cannot find a single, justifiable reason as to why we stayed there. Ostensibly, we’re helping the Afghanistan Government rebuild. In reality, we were propping it up. Anecdotal reports from soldiers who fought there described the Afghanistan soldiers as “cowardly, addicted to drugs, undisciplined…” There were stories of Afghanistan soldiers selling their guns for drugs.

A Pew survey from when the United States was still in control showed that 99% of Afghanistan civilians wanted to live under Sharia law, 96% say converting to Islam is a duty, 94% say the wife is obligated to obey the husband, 85% say stoning should be the penalty for adultery, 79% say death for apostates, and 39% believe suicide bombings are justified.

In other words, we accomplished nothing on any front. If we were they to build up an Afghanistani government, that obviously failed. If we were there to change the hearts and minds of these people, to turn them away from this radical ideology, we failed miserably at that too. To do so would require an active condemnation of the tenants of Islam themselves, rather than just shooting the “extremists”, something which the Western world seems terrified to do. Any Western leader that even tries is ostracized by the political establishment, no matter how many victims of the Jihad are left in their wake because of it.

In 2020, when President Donald Trump began negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban. In February of 2020, he agreed to pull out US troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban committed to halting all attacks against US, NATO, or other Foreign Military Forces. A deadline of May 1st was set, and everything seemed good for a while.

Then the election came through, and Joe Biden ended up in office. One of the things Joe Biden immediately declared was that the troops would be staying past the May 1st deadline. He cited logistical reasons for this delay and promised that the troops would be out by September.

Golly gee, I can’t see anything wrong with that plan.

The Taliban, justifiable pissed, vowed that they would renew the attacks if the agreement wasn’t held. Well, the agreement wasn’t held. The Taliban made no deals, no conditions, and no compromises. And this week, the US troops were finally removed, under fire, while the Taliban swarmed the propped up Government, leaving Afghanistan in an even worse state than the one we had found it in (The Taliban hadn’t conquered everything back then).

It would be completely justified to call this the modern Saigon. At the end of the Vietnam War, the United States pulled out of that country via helicopters at Saigon, under fire, and limped home. That was forty years ago. There is a famous photo of the US helicopter taking off from the embassy. Jump to 2021, and the US forces had to flee Kabul, via helicopter, under fire. There’s even a similar photo, just to rub it in further.

At long last, we’re finally out. Not triumphantly, not with a bang, but with a pathetic whimper, with our tails between our legs.

The Cost

Twenty years of pointless war is going to hurt far more than our wallets. According to AP News, this war has cost:• 2500 American Servicemen• Nearly 4000 US contractors• 66,000 Afghan Military / Police• 1500 Allied Servicemen• 47,000 Afghan Civilians• 500 Aid Workers• 72 Journalists

For comparison, the Taliban lost 50,000 men.

Oh, and obviously, all this was on the taxpayer dollar too. The AP News tallies the total debt of the war to number around two trillion dollars, with the interest costs adding an additional 6.5 trillion dollars by 2050. Gotta love deficit spending.

All this to fight an enemy who wasn’t even there, to provide help to a population that didn’t want it, and to overthrow a regime our “allies” were protecting.

The Aftermath

We have yet to see the long-reaching consequences of this war, but there are some more immediate effects that are already coming to a head. The first being the fall of our propped-up Afghanistan government. The Taliban basically waltzed into Kabul without firing a single shot once the US was gone. There are horrifying videos of Afghanistani civilians swarming the airports, and trying, in their desperation, to cling to the outside of airplanes as they’re taking off in order to escape.

The Taliban has already started implementing the Islamic Code of law. For example, they’ve been going door to door, informing everyone that any girl above the age of fifteen is going to be assigned a husband.

How this will affect the Western World has yet to be seen. There could be another wave of refugees and immigrants who will soon be pouring across Europe and the West. Will the Taliban continue to fight the US and the West in other parts of the world? Who knows at this point. I’d guess the odds are quite probable.

Then there’s Pakistan’s role in all of this. They hid Osama Bin Ladin for nearly a decade. They airlifted the Taliban out when the US had them surrounded. They funded the terrorists and provided them with arms and munitions, and God knows what else. I’m not suggesting yet another middle-eastern war, but dammit, there should be some sanctions on the bastards at the very least.

You know, since before I was alive, the term “Military-industrial-complex” has been thrown around. For a long time, I considered it to be stupid. I put it in the same category as “George Bush is responsible for 9/11” kind of theories. I mean, were there really people in the West so willing to throw away US lives for the sake of profit? I thought the West was better than that.

However, as I’ve grown older, and hopefully wiser, and hopefully not just more cynical, I’ve realized that, yes, there are people with so little morals. There are people in the world who can and will say or do anything if it keeps them in power for just another day.

Do I believe that George Bush invaded Iraq for oil? No. I think he and many Americans truly wanted to avenge those that died on 9/11. However, as the war dragged on- far away and out of sight for most Americans, politicians, and people within these inner circles began to wheel and deal. No mustache-twirling villainy, perhaps, but a moral compromise here, a compromise there, money spread around… and you end up with a group of power elites each looking the other way as the other does compromises and compromises until there is no moral compass left in any of them. These kinds of people are too involved, too compromised, to see who gets hurt, to see the bigger picture… and, perhaps, they don’t want to.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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