Afghanistan: Eleven Years Later
In October we mark eleven years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. It is now the longest war in our nation’s history. This also marks another sad year of reflection for me regarding a war that I have opposed since it started. The strategy of a conventional war against the Taliban was a complete waste of time and over-committed the U.S. to an effort that had little to do with the threat of terrorism. Initially Afghanistan was a popular war because we as a country needed revenge for 9/11. Now a decade later attitudes seem to have changed.
By attacking the Taliban directly and removing the legal government, we made ourselves responsible for a country that was essentially living in the Middle Ages. This has meant billions spent on roads, schools and other infrastructure.Nation-building on a grand scale. It also meant that we would be forced to prop up an extremely corrupt government and president in the interest of stable leadership. We’ve taken responsibility for a country whose number one export is opium (and that output has dramatically increased since we took over). We’ve involved ourselves in fighting an insurgency in a country that has broken countless empires in the past.
Bin Laden’s death demonstrated that this war should have ALWAYS been about Al Qaeda and should have been almost exclusively a special ops initiative. The Taliban was never in a position to oppose foreign forces operating freely within their borders, which is also why Al Qaeda found it so attractive. If we had simply ignored the government in Kabul we would have saved ourselves both money and American lives. Instead thousands of Americans have died to keep Afghanistan out of Taliban hands. The sad reality is that many people believe that the country will fall back into Taliban hands when American troops gone. It is a tragedy, especially for the women and girls of the country, but one that I see as unavoidable. And America will be blamed because we accepted responsibility all those years ago.
My hope is that the subject will be discussed during the upcoming presidential debates, but something tells me both candidates are too fearful of public opinion to tell the truth.