After fighting in Afghanistan for more than 20 years, the United States will pull all forces from the country by Sept. 11, President Joe Biden has announced.
I’m not sure if it is a good idea. I’m not sure if US forces can be removed at all, but I am certain that setting the departure date of Sept. 11 is an upsetting concept.
Afghanistan has been the host of war after war for centuries. It hasn’t been at peace since 1979 when the Soviets thought they could subdue the Afghans. That didn’t work out well for the Soviets and somehow the United States thought it could do better in this war-torn nation in 2001.
On Dec. 24, 1979, Soviet tanks rumbled across the Amu Darya River and into Afghanistan to open their brutal and bloody war with the Afghan rebels.
Just 10 years later, the Soviets and Afghan communists were harshly defeated by anticommunist Islamic guerrillas, thanks largely to intense aid from the United States.
What grew out of those anticommunist Islamic guerrillas was to eventually become our future enemy — the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Between the defeat of the communists and the Sept. 11 attacks, al-Qaida opened training camps in Afghanistan. US intelligence believed Osama bin Laden — who was the head of al-Qaida — was behind the deadly Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Taliban leadership refused to hand bin Laden over to US officials, and our war in Afghanistan began.
In October 2001, the US began bombing Afghanistan. It targeted bin Laden’s al-Qaida fighters and also the Taliban in general.
By November 2001, our local allies, known as the Northern Alliance, took control of the Afghan capital Kabul. A coalition of countries joined to hunt for bin Laden and the Taliban were quickly driven out of Kabul.
It took another 10 years to find bin Laden but he was finally located and executed by US forces in Pakistan. While many celebrated, I only feared that this would widen the war.
Most of our allies left Afghanistan shortly after bin Laden’s death, including the United Kingdom in 2014.
Meanwhile, the United States and the coalition has remained in occupation of Afghanistan for most of the last decade. It seems like we are the only ones who care what might happen to this Islamic nation in the middle of everything that may or may not be important.
Over the terms of the past three presidents, George W. Bush, Obama and Trump, Afghanistan has been little more than a killing field for US forces. All of these presidents attempted to pull our forces out, but each was dragged back into the fight and our forces paid the ultimate price with their lives.
I don’t like war and I never have.
Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I watched the Vietnam War daily on television news. The reports were raw and bloody. Our nation finally garnered enough political pressure to pull forces out of Vietnam, though I don’t think we ever healed from that war.
Today, our entire nation flat-out ignores the war in Afghanistan. It’s so far away and so minuscule that we would rather fret over what our politicians are up to than to actually watch news about a war. How depressing. The people of the United States are butting heads with each other over political views while the men and women, enrolled in our armed forces, are waging war on other nations and many are dying.
Yet, we don’t often see reports out of the war zones. Instead, we see newscasts devoted to the destruction of civil rights, mass shootings, political scandal and whatever crazy thing will fit into the daily news cycle.
As a nation, we are in trouble if we don’t change our direction. I don’t believe any one person (especially a politician) can fix the United States of America. We were once the great leader of the world stage, but now it is time that we share that leadership with other nations.
Yes, I know we can’t trust many of the “other nations” of the world. We still have to work something out. We cannot remain isolated while the rest of the world continues to progress.
We don’t really have a choice.
Here is a list of wars fought in Afghanistan from Wikipedia
Conquest of Afghanistan by Alexander the Great (330 BC – 327 B.C.)
Muslim conquests of Afghanistan (637–709)
Conquest of Afghanistan by the Mongol Empire (13th century)
Mughal conquests in Afghanistan
Anglo−Afghan Wars (first involvement of the British Empire in Afghanistan via India)
First Anglo−Afghan War (1839–1842)
Second Anglo−Afghan War (1878–1880)
Third Anglo−Afghan War (1919)
Panjdeh incident (1885), first major incursion into Afghanistan by the Russian Empire during the Great Game with Britain
Afghan Civil War (1928–1929), revolts by the Shinwari and the Saqqawists, the latter of whom managed to take over the capital city for nine months.
Afghanistan conflict (1978–present)
Saur Revolution (1978), communist insurrection against the Republic of Afghanistan government
Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989), war between the Afghan mujahideen and Soviet Union following Soviet military intervention in support of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan government
First Afghan Civil War (1989–1992), collapse of the communist Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah
Second Afghan Civil War (1992–1996), expansion of the Taliban across most of Afghanistan and establishment of the Taliban-ruled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996
Third Afghan Civil War (1996–2001), lead-up to the 2001 United States-led invasion of Afghanistan, during which the Taliban controlled most of Afghanistan, with the Northern Alliance controlling northern Afghanistan
War in Afghanistan (2001–present), post-American invasion and campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida with the International Security Assistance Force (a coalition of countries including all NATO members); later with post-2014 phase consisting of anti-insurgency operations against the Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIL