News/Op-Ed: All For Nothing? A Closer Look at America’s “Forever War” in Afghanistan
by Nicholas Neoman
In the wake of American military withdrawal from Afghanistan and just hours after the American evacuation of Kabul, the Taliban, an Islamic extremist military organization, completely overtook the capital city and any fragment of democracy left in Afghanistan.
After 20 years of fighting, four presidential administrations and over $2.26 trillion spent, Kabul has been restored back to being a terrorist stronghold. This crisis started with President Joe Biden ordering removal of American forces on July 8, 2021 as an extension of the Trump Administration’s plan for leaving Afghanistan. On Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Taliban officially took over Kabul, less than 24 hours after the United States troops officially left the city. The aftermath from these events have caused mass chaos and panic in both Afghanistan and the United States.
As the United States pulled out of Afghanistan, Afghans are attempting to flee the country by any and all means. The Hamid Karzai International Airport airport in Kabul has been the scene of mass chaos for the past week as citizens attempt to crowd onto leaving planes. According to one report, over 600 civilians squeezed into a United States Air Force plane, while many others jumped on the outside of the vehicle trying to escape. Every citizen is desperate as they fear for their lives and freedom.
Women especially are suppressed under the new Taliban regime. Previously, women were making long overdue strides toward equality, and life for women was substantially freer under the previous rule. However, the Taliban has strictly enforced Islamic Sharia law, forcing women to wear a hijab and a burqa outside, as well as taking away many other rights.
The Taliban reports that girls are allowed to go to school and women can teach as they used to, but in reality a more sinister picture is being painted. Rather, in the past week, girls have been physically blocked from entering schools along with female teachers, forcing them to retreat back to domestic life. This is a severe reduction in rights, and American citizens of all political shades can agree that women had many more rights under American-led rule compared to the Taliban.
As for men, a different suppression has been enforced. Any adult man who speaks out against their new terrorist leaders will be shot and killed. Unlike the United States, there is no freedom of speech, no right to Habeas Corpus and no right to a trial by their peers. Instead, anyone who disagrees is murdered.
Because it is very difficult for women to leave their house, men have been forced into a role of being the absolute leader of their household. They must do nearly everything for their home because they can go out, which means more time subjected to the new government. Because they spend more time out working for the family, it is incredibly difficult for men not to rise up and speak out against the government. All in all, life for Afghans is extremely harsh as women have very little rights and men are subjected to death.
At home, a different kind of madness is ensuing. Now, political parties are arguing over where to pin the blame. Many Democrats today believe that the United States never should have been in Afghanistan and that the blame should lie at the feet of former Republican President Donald Trump, who initiated the pullout effort.
However, the Republicans have a completely different perspective on this issue. The current president is Joe Biden, and it was under his leadership that Afghanistan crumbled. Even though Donald Trump started this process, Republicans believe President Biden’s orders of immediate removal and the mismanagement of that removal led to the Taliban takeover.
As for the issue of starting the war nearly 20 years ago, both Republicans and Democrats agreed on fighting in Afghanistan at the time, so both parties are in theory to blame for these issues abroad.
Regardless, Afghanistan seems to be in a similar, if not worse, state as it was when American military occupation began. When President George W. Bush started the war in Afghanistan, it seemed to be the correct approach. However, in hindsight, many citizens wonder if those trillions of dollars could’ve been spent more wisely.
That money could have gone to benefit both political parties, instead of fighting a war. Homelessness, opioids and even more recently pandemic relief could have been viable alternatives for this money. Instead, Afghanistan remains as it originally was, a developing nation where rights are suppressed and terrorism reigns.