By Kenneth Casey | United States
American troops have been fighting a war in Afghanistan for over 17 years, making it the longest war in American history. It all began in 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
To understand just how long we’ve been fighting the war in Afghanistan, here’s a list of things that have happened each year since the United States’ invasion:
- 2001: On the day George W. Bush finalizes his plan to invade Afghanistan, Fallin’ by Alicia Keys is atop the Billboard charts.
- 2002: The first film of the Spider-Man trilogy is released.
- 2003: The U.S. launch an invasion in another middle-eastern country, Iraq.
- 2004: Mark Zuckerberg and friends launch social media platform Facebook.
- 2005: Hurricane Katrina causes 1,833 fatalities and impairs the city of New Orleans.
- 2006: Social Networking service Twitter is created by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams.
- 2007: Apple! announces their plan to create the iPhone.
- 2008: America elects their first African-American president, Barack Obama.
- 2009: Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is created by an unknown person under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto.
- 2010: An earthquake in Haiti affects more than 3 million people and results in the death of around 230,000.
- 2011: The Iraq War concludes, as the final U.S. Troops stationed there are withdrawn.
- 2012: Hurricane Sandy affects 24 states and causes 233 fatalities overall.
- 2013: Edward Snowden divulges classified NSA documents to journalists and eventually to the public.
- 2014: America’s first marijuana store opens in the state of Colorado.
- 2015: The United States supreme court rules in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
- 2016: For the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.
- 2017: For the first time in 99 years, a solar eclipse was visible to most of America.
- 2018: Kim Jong-un became the first North Korean leader to step foot onto South Korean soil.
The original intent of invading Afghanistan was to defeat and overthrow the Taliban, which had granted asylum to Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11th attacks. Although you may not agree with Bush on invading the country and think he should have just agreed to negotiate with the Taliban for the handing over of Osama Bin Laden instead, the Taliban government was overthrown as leaders of the Afghanistan government in December of 2001. The U.S. had completed their original mission and could have left the war at this point.
But they decided to stay in order to build up a government in Kabul, Afghanistan, which later proved to be one of the classic examples as to why nation-building is an awful idea. Many people of the Pashtun population of Afghanistan objected to the U.S. building up their own government in Kabul, and the U.S. decided to stay even longer to take on the people they considered enemies of this new government they had helped create.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan with the intent of accomplishing one thing which caused another problem, and once that problem was fixed another problem came about, and eventually, we got ourselves in such a big of a quagmire that it was basically impossible that we’d ever been able to come out victorious.
Since the invasion in 2001, it’s been reported that almost 2,200 American soldiers have lost their lives in the war. These fatalities to our troops are unnecessary and could have been avoided if we weren’t engaged in this now useless war with no clear strategy or intent ahead. This is the most important reason why we should bring the troops home and cease war.
The second most important reason is our debt. Currently, we sit in over $21 Trillion dollars of debt. In our time in Afghanistan, we’ve spent almost a trillion dollars, estimates Anthony Cordesman, the chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic And International Studies. The government has wasted a lot of taxpayer money overseas in a war that has killed a lot of civilians for over 17 years now. Policing the world should not be America’s job, and Americans do not want their tax money being spent wastefully overseas when, at the very least, it could be spent towards more productive things back home (although preferably just cut).
As Rand Paul puts it: “We went from striking back against those who attacked us, to regime change, to nation-building, to policing their country for them.” Clearly, we’ve steered away from our original intentions in Afghanistan and we’ve faced the consequences of wasting a ton of U.S. taxpayer money and our soldiers dying because we’ve been stubborn and refused to cease the war.
When Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I was optimistic about his stance on the Afghanistan War. It was often difficult to pinpoint The Donald’s stances on Foreign Policy during the campaign trail, sometimes sounding like a non-interventionist or an isolationist, other times sounding as hawkish as John Bolton. So although his rhetoric on the campaign trail was mixed and confusing, he did claim at one point that getting involved in Afghanistan in the first place was a mistake and one would think to end useless wars and wasted taxpayer money overseas would go along with his so-called “America First” platform that he campaigned on.
Unfortunately, last year he arranged to add around 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan to the already ridiculously high number of troops present in the country. Although for right now it seems his desire to flex the military muscle outweighed his desire to put America first, I hope that by the end of his term he comes to his senses and declares that enough is enough in Afghanistan.
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