The War in Afghanistan was a mistake


Photo credit/ By U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos - 110927-M-EM602-101, Public Domain

The United States withdrew from Afghanistan just weeks away from the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

The timing of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the recent disasters going on in Afghanistan is cruel and ironic. The only reason that the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan was because of 9/11. This war has become America’s longest, spanning 20 years, and it finally came to a bitter end with a result the United States did not want. The bottom line is this was an unnecessary war. The idea that the United States can export democracy to any country we please was ill-advised and it has never worked.

The first piece in comprehending this puzzle is understanding how the war in Afghanistan began. The Taliban is an Islamist religious and political movement founded in Afghanistan in 1994. It soon gained control of the country from 1996-2001.

Once the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization, moved its headquarters to Afghanistan under the patronage of the Taliban. Al Qaeda waged a holy war against the United States and began committing acts of terror on U.S. embassies in 2000.

The worst act of terror committed by Al Qaeda, however, was 9/11, claiming the lives of almost 3,000 innocent Americans. The 9/11 attacks were supported by the Taliban and almost immediately after the attacks the United States approved the use of military force in Afghanistan and several terrorist groups, vowing to hunt down those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and bring them to justice. “I can hear you. We all can hear you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.” These famous words by President George W. Bush were spoken at ground zero days after the 9/11 attacks. These words riled up a nation for war.

The United States had multiple goals for the war in Afghanistan. The first was finding the members of Al Qaeda responsible for the 9/11 attacks, the top priority being their leader Osama Bin Laden. The other goal was to remove the Taliban from power and establish a democracy in Afghanistan.

While this idea was good in theory, the United States had little understanding of the culture of Afghanistan and its way of life. How did the U.S. expect to change the entire makeup of a country with thousands of years of history that they did not understand? To the Afghan people, the U.S. looked like invaders, not as helpers, and we did not have their support.

The United States should have only focused on finding the members of Al Qaeda. Getting rid of the Taliban and replacing them with a whole new system of government was an impossible goal that could never be accomplished.

The first goal of capturing Bin Laden and the members of Al Qaeda was accomplished after 10 years. However, the means in which the U.S. government hunted down the terrorists is controversial.

Torture methods such as waterboarding were used in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in an attempt to get information out of suspected terrorists. Torture is inhumane and these methods violated the Geneva Convention which calls for no use of torture in war. In addition to this, reports from the Senate Intelligence Committee have indicated that the torturous methods used at Guantanamo Bay were not effective in hunting down terrorists.

The United States wasted trillions of dollars and used inhumane methods in order to win a war that could never have been won. The U.S. and military officials also continually lied to the American people claiming that the war efforts were going well when in fact they were not. The U.S. also stayed way too long in Afghanistan and the loss of U.S. military personnel was heavily felt by American families. Sometimes, it’s more noble to accept defeat early than later when resources, time, and lives are lost. Overall, the war in Afghanistan will serve as a learning lesson for the United States. Imperialism in both Korea and Vietnam are perfect examples of why the war in Afghanistan did not work. The main ones being that revenge should not be a reason to go to war and that the United States cannot impose its will upon whatever country we please.

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