April 14th 2021, President Joe Biden announces the withdrawal of military troops in Afghanistan after first being deployed there since October 7th 2001.
To understand the situation in Afghanistan, we must first establish a rough timeline. The prominent group of terrorists, the Taliban, had occupied 90% of the region from 1996 to 2001. A military front to the north of the country, known as the Northern Alliance or United Front, was the main opposition to the Taliban. Their goal was to take the country back and re-establish a legitimate government. On September 9th 2001, the Northern Alliance’s leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was assassinated by al-Qaeda operatives and two days later, on September 11th, al-Qaeda operatives hijacked airplanes that hit the twin towers and attempted, but failed, to hit the Pentagon. After the events of September 11th, the US government through the Bush Administration believed that the Taliban had been harboring the mastermind of the attacks, Osama bin Laden. This was one of the main reasons why the United States had created a military presence in the country known as Operation Enduring Freedom from 2001 to 2014. In November and December of 2001, US and British military troops launched airstrikes against the Taliban, while the Northern Alliance and other countries in the middle east were able to regain most of the country and the capital of Kabul from the ground.
Many US citizens, through the Bush Administration and the news media, were told that we would go into Afghanistan to aid the country’s reconstruction effort to improve the lives of the Afghan people and help the government establish a military that would fend itself against the Taliban. That is, of course, what we were told, and what we were told were ultimately lies in order for the United States to prop up a corrupt regime and justify our presence with a profit model that would appease the disgusting war machine known as the military industrial complex. I will be as clear as I can possibly be as I am writing this: the Taliban are a threat and a menace to Afghan people and the world at large. The original intention of Operation Enduring Freedom to weaken the Taliban and loosen their grip on the country was in many ways justified. But the War in Afghanistan led to the deaths of 241,000 people, and the increase of profits from military contractors such as Haliburton, Raytheon, and others to justify endless wars, also known as forever wars. This being said, US military troops should not have been in Afghanistan for the last 20 years.
As an American, as a Progressive, and as someone who deeply cares about other people from around the world and improving the lives of others, it upsets me to no end that the Taliban have retaken Afghanistan after 20 years and will effectively endanger women, girls, minorities, and many Afghan boys being radicalized into their dangerous ideology. The United States calls themselves a leader of human rights and peace across the world, but what about Iraq? What about Vietnam? What about war crimes committed by Henry Kissinger in Cambodia? The United States of America has a lot of problems we have yet to face on our own properly, why does anyone expect that we should go out there and solve the problems of other places if all it leads to is death and destruction? The very least we can do is expand the number of refugees we take in from Afghanistan to send a signal that while there is no physical way to replace what was lost, we can help many Afghan families create newer and safer lives. If we shut the door on them and allow more people to die, or even worse, be radicalized by the Taliban, then our failure and shame deepens.
What is happening isn’t about the Taliban, this isn’t even a failure of one President, such as Donald Trump or Joe Biden. No. What is going on right now in Afghanistan is a tragedy that the United States government has caused and is ultimately responsible for. Every US President, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden, all knew that the process, the lies, the suffering, the pain, and the destruction was inevitable. The only credit I can give is at least President Biden withdrew troops knowing he’d get backlash. In that way, I support him in that decision.
To conclude my thoughts, I would like you, dear reader, to imagine something else for a moment. The United States through our military resources was capable of destabilizing much of the middle east, and now Afghanistan, by ignoring the underlying persisting problems that were always there in that region. Now think about the events of January 6th, when legions of Trump supporters went to Capitol Hill which led to an insurrection to overturn the 2020 election results. If the US could not stop destabilization in other countries around the world, who can really say that we can stop it here at home? Is the call coming from inside the house? I strongly believe so.
Many people in the US are in danger of right wing militant groups, conspiracy theorists, and white nationalist groups who believe in an “America First” approach to governing and straying away from international cooperation with our allies and justify control across the country as these groups seem fit. Sound familiar? It should, because these groups in the US are no different than the Taliban, or other islamic terrorists we were so afraid of in the 2000s and 2010s. We are not by any stretch of the imagination an exceptional country, but if we continue to weaken our democracy with voter suppression, not give job opportunities to the least fortunate among us, allow the rich and corporations to suck out the wealth in our communities, and allow radicalized far right groups to get even stronger and more organized, the American Empire will face a fate worse than death.
Stay safe, take care of each other, and create a better world than the one we are inheriting at this moment. Our lives depend on it.