US Failure in the War in Afghanistan


Taliban soldiers, from BBC.

Elijah Chandlee, Reporter

The United States has just concluded its longest war ever in disaster. After 20 long years of war Afghanistan has ended up nearly exactly where it started, with the Islamic Extremist group known as the Taliban in control of the country. The future of the nation is uncertain at this time, however the past tells us how we got to this point.
Afghanistan has a long history of conflicts. Dubbed the “Graveyard of empires” it has been a vital crossing point for many great conquerors of the past, such as Alexander the Great and Ghengis Khan. Although many formidable armies have been able to conquer the land, it has been very difficult for any to maintain control over it. Afghanistan has long struggled to be a united country and could be better understood as a loose collection of tribes. A ten-year-long war throughout the 1980s saw the Soviet Union attempting to support an unpopular socialist government. Due to the Cold War, the United States provided rebel groups with weapons that would one day be turned towards them.
9/11 is a date that almost all Americans are familiar with for good reason. The national tragedy provided a motive for the United States to root out Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The images of two planes full of passengers crashing into the World Trade Center created quite a bit of patriotism and perhaps nationalism for US citizens and media.
“There was a certain fervor that may have gripped people maybe to the point where it became kind of nationalistic,” said Social Studies teacher Daniel Kambur.
It is true that 9/11 was a national tragedy. However, as a firm anti-imperialist, it is difficult to justify war on an international scale. There should always be other diplomatic options. The United States’ motives for entering the war should also be called into question.
“I do not think that the United States was honest at all. I think that we were completely unjustified entering Afghanistan, and I think that the Afghanistan war was a mistake that should have never happened, motivated by profit motives,” said Novato High junior Coco Spargur.
There are many suspected ulterior motives for the United States entering Afghanistan such as control over the nation’s natural resources and spreading United States influence. Whatever the motives, the results were clear, and they were not good. It became clear that the United States needed to end its presence in Afghanistan.
“It’s those types of things where you have to pull the plug at some point,” said Kambur.
On February 9th, 2020 the Taliban and the United States signed a peace deal promising the removal of US forces by September 11th, 2021, and for the aforementioned troops not to be harmed during their exit. Shortly after the beginning of the departure of US troops, the Taliban struck, taking over Afghanistan in a few short days. The withdrawal of US forces was deemed a “messy” pullout by President Joe Biden, but perhaps this could’ve been avoided if there were never troops there to begin with.
Afghanistan ended up back in Taliban control after 20 years of bloodshed and violence. If all the slaughter was for nothing, why should it have ever happened to begin with? To some, it was countless US drone strikes and human rights abuses from both sides with no major accomplishments to show for it. Now many women and ethnic minorities fear for their safety and well-being under the new extremist regime, and their homes and countrymen were destroyed by an empire across the world.
While rooting out Al Qaeda may have been justified and a good decision, the subsequent years after which US forces spent in the nation were not. I can only hope that this will be a lesson to the leaders of our future to avoid war, for nothing good comes of it.