Is Biden right to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sep 11?
- On Wednesday, April 15, President Joe Biden announced that he will withdraw the remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. He stated, “It’s time to end America’s longest war… but not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”
- On February 29, 2020, the US and the Taliban reached an “agreement for bringing peace” under the Trump administration. They had agreed to remove US troops in 14 months provided the militants banned al-Qaeda and extremist groups from areas of Taliban control.
- Biden’s decision extends Trump’s previous deal. Troops would begin before May 1 and “could be well complete” before the Sept. 11 deadline.
- Critics worry the withdrawal “not only imperils US counterterrorism efforts, but that it also endangers Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.”
- Although troops will be removed, Biden said the US “will assist Aghan forces, diplomatic, and humanitarian work in the country.”
- Since the start of the war in 2001, 2,312 US military personnel have died and 20,066 service members have been injured.
The US has a deal in place to have all US troops out of Afghanistan by May 1st, making this new September date already past the negotiated deadline. The War in Afghanistan has been called America's longest-running and most 'unjust war,' and for good reason. The US presence in Afghanistan was never truly justified in the first place, and this occupation has gone on for nearly two decades. The original justification given by the Bush administration was retaliation for the attacks on 9/11. Still, as Robert Zaller wrote for The Triangle, those attacks 'were planned in Hamburg, Germany, carried out mostly by Saudi Arabians and chiefly financed by the Saudi government.' The link to Afghanistan was through Al Qaeda, but as Zaller points out, they 'had bases elsewhere as well,' and Bin Laden himself was later actually caught in Pakistan.
Some would have us stay and continue the War on Terror indefinitely, but our efforts in the region have done little to further our stated goal of ending terrorism. Keeping troops in longer would do nothing to help bring peace to the region and would likely only end up unnecessarily drawing out the conflict further, as has been the case up to this point. 2018 figures show more than 2,300 US military deaths and over 20,000 wounded in action. The financial cost as of the 2020 fiscal year was $978 billion. These numbers will keep ticking up if we stay longer, and there is no justifiable reason to do so.
American troops were initially sent to Afghanistan in response to al Qaeda's attacks in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Pulling them out now would be an issue because the terrorist group is still a threat. According to BBC, 'Al-Qaeda is still 'heavily embedded' within the Taliban in Afghanistan.'
In 2020, the US and the Taliban reached an agreement that would initiate removing US troops from Afghanistan under a few conditions. While the idea of a peaceful end is nice, the US can't trust the word of a regime that provided safety for a terrorist group, and especially not one that created such deep hurt and loss in our country. The agreement has not changed much between the two sides since it was created. According to Edmund Fitton-Brown, co-ordinator of the UN's Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and Taliban Monitoring Team, 'the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban was 'not substantively' changed by the deal struck with the US.'
With the inauguration of a new president creating a rift between Americans, continued social and racial violence, and slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn't make sense to pull out of a country that poses a threat to us. While some may argue that leaving our troops there will continue to create casualties, the number of civilian casualties has actually been steadily decreasing since 2018. Clearly, the presence of US troops is making a difference by reducing fighting and casualties. If Biden pulls out US troops now, it will expose our country's vulnerabilities, making us an easy target.
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